Personal Injury Claims: Factors that Determine the Value of Your Case
Personal Injury: Factors that Determine the Worth of Your Case
If you have been injured in an accident and are seeking damages from another party, one of the biggest questions you probably have about your personal injury claim is how much money you will receive. Well, there really is no exact formula to calculate that beforehand as there are so many individual factors at play. But, if you are curious about what is taken into consideration in determining that magic number, here is some helpful information.
Compensatory damages aim to do just that…compensate the victim for any losses incurred as a result of the injury. Some of these damages are easy to calculate, such as medical expenses or loss of property. But, others, such as emotional distress and pain and suffering are not so easily quantified…hence the difficulty in making any sort of accurate estimate. Other aspects taken into account in determining compensatory damages include loss of income, loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium. This last factor typically applies to the relationship between the victim and his spouse, but in some states, it can apply to a parent and child as well. In some instances, these damages are awarded to the affected family member directly.
Typically, an insurance company will add up all the medical expenses and this will serve as a base number for your claim and may multiply this number by up to 10 depending on the severity of the case. Lost income is then added to this number; this number is not set in stone, but rather, typically serves as the starting figure for negotiations.
Punitive damages are not always awarded in a personal injury case; unlike compensatory damages, this money is not meant to help the victim, but rather to punish the defendant if the person or entity acted particularly egregiously or carelessly; in addition to punishment, the courts use punitive damages to deter similar behavior in the future, both from the particular defendant or an industry or organization as a whole.
Role of the Victim in Accident
The degree to which the victim was at fault for the accident is another determining factor in the award; the more you were at fault, the less money you will receive, is basically how that plays out. In a small number of states, you may not be eligible for any sort of compensation if you were found to have contributed to the injury even partially.
Furthermore, in most states, the injured party is expected to take reasonable action to mitigate (minimize) the financial impact of the accident; failure to take these reasonable steps, such as getting proper medical treatment or partaking in activities that worsen the injury, may result in a significant deduction in your award. Typically, when an insurance company is working out a claim, the percentage of which you were determined to be at fault is the amount of money that will be subtracted from whatever dollar amount your claim is deemed to be worth.