How Much Is My Injury Claim Worth?
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A LAS CRUCES PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER FOR FREE
Many factors are at play when determining the worth of a personal injury claim. In legal terms, the amount of compensation a successful plaintiff receives from a personal injury claim is called damages. The calculating the value of an injury claim is unfortunately not based simply on the amount you think you may deserve.
If you or your loved one has suffered a personal injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Las Cruces personal injury lawyers.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR DAMAGES
Damages are provided for economic losses and non-economic losses. Economic losses tend to be those losses that have an objective value and can be easily quantified into monetary terms. For instance, if your car was damaged after a car accident, a mechanic can provide an estimate of how much it would cost to fix it. Because the price of fixing a car can be easily and objectively determined, this and other types of property damage would be an example of economic loss. On the other hand, non-economic losses tend to be those that have subjective value. For example, a plaintiff may seek damages for pain, but because pain cannot be measured objectively, pain would be an example of a non-economic loss. Below is a list that may help you better distinguish the difference between economic losses and non-economic losses.
Economic losses may include the following:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Damaged property
- Past and future loss of earning capacity
Non-economic losses may include the following:
- Past and future emotional anguish
- Past and future pain
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
FACTORS IN YOUR CLAIM’S VALUE
When providing a settlement offer, an insurance claims adjuster looks at various factors to determine how much your injury claim is worth. First, they look at the total economic losses you have suffered. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and spent several weeks in the hospital recuperating, medical bills will have piled up. These bills will factor into your economic losses.
There are also non-economic losses that a claims adjuster may consider. Juries in personal injury cases are often asked to compensate for mental and physical pain, suffering, inconvenience, and loss of life’s pleasures that the plaintiff endured from the date of the accident. Though these non-economic losses are subjective, pathologists and neurological specialists will often be brought in to give expert opinions on how much pain the plaintiff is currently in.
1. Medical Expenses
Medical expenses are those expenses related to the medical treatment you received because of the personal injury accident. Because medical expenses can be derived from a number of different treatments, be sure to document every medical bill you receive. At trial or settlement, these bills will help the jury or the judge realize the amount of compensation you deserve. Below are some typical medical expenses.
- Physical therapy
- Hospital bills
- Laboratory fees
- Surgery costs
- Pain management treatment
- Prescription medication
2. Future Medical Expenses
Not all injuries can be fixed with a single stay at a hospital. Some injuries may lead to recurring visits to the hospital. For instance, if you were severely burned on several parts of your body and the doctor states that you will need surgeries over the course of five years to prevent infection, the cost of these surgeries would count as future medical expenses. Essentially, future medical expenses account for the medical expenses you will incur beyond the immediate point in time. Future medical expenses may even include the cost of modifications to the home and medical equipment.
3. Lost Income
An injury resulting from an accident may temporarily disable you from working. And unless your employer is generous and gives you a paycheck even if you do not show up to work, you will lose out on the money you could have earned but for your injury. A personal injury claimant may seek to be compensated for this lost income. To prove the amount of lost income, you must show evidence such as pay stubs or tax returns.
4. Future Lost Income
An injury resulting from an accident may prevent you from working altogether in the future. In such cases, you will want to seek compensation for future lost income. Future lost income is the income you would have received in the future if not for your accident. For instance, if you were a cook at a restaurant, but lost your hands in an accident and will no longer be able to cook, a judge or the jury will look at your wages when you were employed and extrapolate from this amount to determine how much you would have earned in the future as a cook.
When considering future lost income for child plaintiffs, the process can be difficult because the child likely was never employed in the first place. If your child was under 18 years old when he or she suffered an injury that permanently disabled him or her from working, there are many variables to determine your child’s future income. One of these is whether a specifically identifiable career existed for your child, backed with evidence. For example, if your child was 16 years old and had an internship at Microsoft, his or her future lost income would likely be worth more than that of a six-year-old who had just started attending primary school in a similar predicament. Thus, the 16-year-old would likely be awarded more damages for future lost income than the six-year-old.
5. Property Damage
You may also be compensated for property damage as a result of a personal injury accident. If your car was totaled because of the negligence of the other driver, the driver may be liable for the damages to your car.
6. Pain and Suffering
In general, pain and suffering represents the emotional distress the plaintiff endures after the accident. Below is a list that may help you better understand what counts as pain and suffering.
- Physical pain (temporary or permanent)
- Depression, anxiety, or other emotional disorders
- Loss of consortium (the right of association and companionship with one’s husband or wife)
- Other psychological trauma
CALCULATING THE VALUE OF PAIN AND SUFFERING
There are generally two ways of calculating pain and suffering: the per diem, or “by the day” method, and the multiple method.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method assigns a dollar value for one day and then multiplies this dollar value for the number of days the plaintiff was affected by the injury. The dollar value tends to be the plaintiff’s average daily wage.
The multiple method is the more common method used by insurance companies to calculate the pain and suffering of a plaintiff. In the multiple method, the insurance claims adjuster will total the plaintiff’s economic damages and multiply this number by a multiple from one to five. The resulting amount will be how much the plaintiff is compensated for pain and suffering.
ADJUSTING YOUR ESTIMATE BASED ON FAULT
In New Mexico, courts use what is called a pure comparative fault rule when it determines how much compensation a victim receives. This rule allows a plaintiff to recover even if he or she is at 99% fault for the accident. However, the amount of compensation a plaintiff receives is reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault for the accident.
HOW A LAWYER CAN HELP
Not every personal injury calls for a lawyer. If your injury is minor, for example, then you probably will not need to call a lawyer. Perhaps you slipped at the grocery store, but you suffered only a minor cut on your finger. You may have a viable claim against the grocery store, but there is no need to go through a costly legal process to obtain a check for a cut. On the other hand, if you received a severe back injury, you may want to consider a lawyer to help ensure you are fairly compensated.
Even if you are comfortable with the law, you may have trouble dealing with the insurance companies, which are often the ones providing the check. Thus, if your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company is being difficult, you may want to call a lawyer. An experienced lawyer may help you deal with the insurance companies, which are often very reluctant to provide full coverage for victims. An experienced lawyer may know the tactics of insurance companies that try to give less than what is owed and counter these tactics so that his or her clients have a chance of getting full compensation. Additionally, if you are unsatisfied with an insurance company’s offer, a lawyer may represent you at trial.
Lawyers may also bolster your claim by conducting depositions and looking for supporting evidence. For instance, in car accident cases, an experienced lawyer may try to find all the parties that are liable for the accident. Sometimes the lawyer may find a liable party that you may not have thought was a party to the accident.
CONTACT A LAS CRUCES PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
The experienced attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you determine how much your injury claim is worth. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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