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How Are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated?

Personal injury settlements take into account precise calculations of economic and noneconomic losses. When insurance companies wish to settle, they must adequately compensate for all damages suffered. 

A Richmond personal injury lawyer works with clients to document all economic and noneconomic damages. Insurance adjusters will consider each category of damages when making a settlement offer. 

Christina Pendleton & Associates pursue the maximum financial recovery for each client. Here is how personal injury settlements are calculated and why hiring a lawyer improves the value of your personal injury settlement.

The Basics of Damages

Economic and non-economic damages are the two basic types of damages in personal injury. Economic damages aim to financially compensate quantifiable losses, like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. 

Non-economic damages compensate for losses that are not easily measurable, such as pain and suffering. Awards for these damages aim to account for decreased quality of life caused by injuries. 

A lawyer ensures all categories of damages are appropriately addressed given each client’s unique circumstances and ordeal. No money can undo the impacts on one’s health or independence after an injury, but fair damages provide an acknowledgment of losses.

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How Are Economic Damages Calculated?

Here are a few ways a lawyer may determine the appropriate amount of economic damages to seek in a personal injury settlement:

  • Gather and verify all supporting documentation of economic losses, such as medical bills, wage loss records, and property repair estimates.
  • Research customary guidelines for costs of ongoing care for your injuries.
  • Consult with medical experts to confirm liability for future treatment and assess reasonable costs.
  • Calculate past and future lost wages based on the client’s income history and medical prognosis.
  • Consider jurisdiction-specific rules about damage caps or limits on recovery.
  • Review comparable past settlement amounts and verdicts for similar injuries.

The goal is to fully document and justify the total economic loss figure to maximize reimbursement for these out-of-pocket expenses. They include what you’ve already lost, but they also include what you may lose in the future.

Lawyers know how to calculate these future costs and how to respond to challenges the insurance company may make about your settlement calculations. Victims deserve full economic damages, especially since they can be proven more easily.

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How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?

Since non-economic damages are intangible harms, they’re much harder to put a dollar amount on. However, there are some methods that lawyers use to calculate the value of these damages. These include:

  • Evaluate the severity and longevity of pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment due to the injuries. More serious/long-term issues warrant higher awards.
  • Consider the impact on activities of daily living and lifestyle limitations imposed by the injuries. Greater impairments result in larger non-economic damages.
  • Consult jury verdict research and settlement databases to find ranges for comparable non-economic damages in similar injury cases.
  • Interview medical professionals to obtain objective assessments of injury-related impacts on health, functioning, and quality of life.
  • Calculate future discounted present value of long-term impacts like permanent impairment and lifelong pain management needs.
  • Review responses to questionnaires gauging mental/physical health status before and after the incident.
  • Investigate whether disfigurement, disability, or social/relationship issues resulted from the injuries.
  • Analyze your age, occupation, and hobbies/interests to personalize award amounts.

Your lawyer may also interview people close to you to get an impression of how your life has changed because of your injuries. You can also keep a pain journal to document how your injury has affected your life. These things can prove non-economic damages and guide their value.

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What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are a rare award and you should not expect to receive them. However, here are the basics. If your case goes all the way to trial, a judge may declare that the defendant’s actions were so bad that they deserve extra punishment.

That punishment comes as punitive damages. It is extra money paid to you because of how badly the defendant acted toward you. While your personal injury lawyer can argue for these, only a court can declare that you can receive them and how much you should receive.

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What Could Lower My Personal Injury Settlement Value?

The insurance companies will try to push back against our settlement calculations, and there may be legal considerations that could lower how much you could recover. Here are some of those factors:

  • Contributory negligence claims
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Damage caps
  • Not seeing a doctor after your injury
  • Not following your doctor’s instructions or missing follow-up appointments
  • Uncertainty about who was at fault for your injury
  • Minor injuries that heal quickly
  • Eagerness to settle too quickly

Why Does Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Raise My Settlement Value?

Personal injury lawyers bring extensive experience to the table that individual plaintiffs lack. They understand how personal injury settlements are calculated. Lawyers document every aspect of liability, injuries, and losses to maximize your case value. 

Insurers are less likely to dispute well-substantiated claims. In addition, personal injury attorneys have litigation expertise that serves as an implicit threat during negotiations. Lawyers also fully comprehend all applicable laws and limits on settlement amounts.

Their negotiation skills and legal acumen maximize recoveries on average far above what plaintiffs could achieve alone. If you have a case, speak with a lawyer to learn what strategies they’ll use to raise the value of your settlement.

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