Personal Injury Attorney
How do insurance companies, judges and juries determine the total amount of damages to award in personal injury cases? As a personal injury attorney from a firm like the Yearin Law Office can explain, there are a few standard methods to calculate dollar amounts, but the totals depend on the documented hardship and severity of the injury. Here is a general overview of the types of personal injury damages and how loss amounts are measured.
Compensatory Damages, AKA Actual Damages
Compensatory or actual damages are easier to calculate since the losses have specific dollar amounts. For example, your injury required a lengthy hospital stay, and now you are in debt due to your medical bills. Your compensation will include the actual bill expenses in your awarded damages.
The court should be able to see all of your documented expenses and add them up to present a total dollar amount needed for compensation. As the injured plaintiff, it is your responsibility to follow all medical recommendations and keep accurate records of all your expenses including treatment bills and medication costs.
General Damages Such as Pain and Suffering
Insurance companies, judges and juries look at many aspects of the plaintiff’s injury to arrive at a fair compensation amount. For general damages that don’t have documented expenses like pain and suffering, you might need to prove details such as:
- The severity of the injury
- Physical and emotional pain others have suffered from the same type of injury
- Employment difficulties
- Ongoing need for medical treatment
- Temporary versus life-long impairment
In a trial, it might be helpful to provide personal journal entries that detail the pain and suffering you experience. Your lawyer might also call on friends and family to testify as witnesses of your daily struggles.
Methods for Calculating Pain and Suffering
Two ways courts and insurance companies can calculate pain and suffering damages are Per Diem or Multiplier.
Per Diem Method
A specified dollar amount is multiplied by the number of days the plaintiff suffered from their injuries. The length of time starts from the date of the injury up until the official day of healing or when the victim reaches “maximum medical improvement”.
Often, a court will multiply the actual damage amount by a number between 1.5 and 5 based on the injury’s severity. So you could end up with pain and suffering damages that are at least double the amount you received for actual losses.
Legal experts strongly suggest you hire a personal injury lawyer to help you present the best evidence to prove your compensation needs. Look for a personal injury attorney with the background and experience to help you with your claim.