The cost of an injury can be financially and emotionally devastating. On top of physical pain, you could face the possibility of long-term disability. A severe injury could result in huge medical bills, lost wages, chronic pain, psychological trauma, bodily disfigurement, and a lifetime of medical needs. Most of us simply aren’t prepared for this.
If the injury was due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. However, the specific amount depends on a variety of factors. Personal injury attorneys typically use a basic formula, built on the concept of damages, to estimate a fair amount that provides proper financial recovery for your tragedy.
How Much Your Personal Injury Claim May Be Worth
There’s no way to state an exact figure in a personal injury claim without the facts, as all case results are different. However, there are three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
- Economic and non-economic damages are sought in the vast majority of personal injury cases.
- Punitive damages are usually reserved for cases involving gross negligence, such as when the at-fault party can be shown to have been aware of extreme risks to the safety of others, but proceeded with indifference.
Let’s take a closer look at the two most common types of damages found in these cases.
To prove economic damages, it’s critical to keep detailed expense records. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
- All medical bills
- Receipts of additional medical expenses, such as transportation
- Lost wages due to missed work
- Lost long-term earnings due to ongoing treatment or inability to return to work
- Property damage in the case of auto accidents
- Estimated future medical expenses
Generally, awards sought in personal injury cases aim to cover these damages at least partially, but hopefully in full.
These are often more difficult to pursue, as your attorney has to prove aspects such as pain and suffering—the emotional and psychological difficulties you experienced due to the trauma of the accident and your injuries. The value of pain and suffering is based on:
- The insurance company’s or defendant’s ability to pay.
- The amount awarded in similar cases.
- A fair and honest evaluation of the severity of the injury.
Insurance companies will try to deny a claim initially. They typically negotiate down using their own assessment or past experience as a guide, and use a variety of methods to discredit a claim or specific aspects of it. In the vast majority of cases, settlements are preferred to lengthy and costly court-based procedures. However, if your case might involve punitive damages, there could be a need to go before a judge or jury to secure the rightful compensation you deserve. Make sure when choosing a legal partner that they have the expertise to prepare and defend your case in court if necessary.