Suffering a personal injury can have devastating, long-lasting effects. Recovering from physical pain is only the tip of the iceberg. Rehabilitation, loss of wages from missed work, loss of personal property, disruption of your daily life, stress and worry all weigh heavily on victims. It is the magnitude of the sum total of all of these factors that must be considered when attempting to quantify the amount of personal injury compensation.
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Special Damages – Bills and Financial Costs
While every case is different, courts and insurance companies both must use some sort of equation to determine how much a personal injury claim payout should be. In order to find the right number, they must gather a straight-forward, objective list of all expenses incurred from the injury first, then add in the more subjective factors to arrive at the final compensation amount.
The first part of the equation is simple. A sum total of every provable financial expense that was a direct result of the accident or injury is calculated. This number usually includes, but is not limited to:
- Medical Bills
- Damaged or Lost Property
- Cost of Medication
- Hospital Stay
- Lost Wages
- Cost of Medical Equipment
- Expenses Paid Out of Pocket
Once these items are added together, that gives you a starting dollar amount. These items are the first half of your overall Damages. Some courts refer to these quantifiable dollar amounts as Economic Damages, Medical Special Damages or even just “Specials.” This number is straight-forward and easy to prove.
General Damages – Pain and Suffering
The other half of the equation is harder to pinpoint because it more difficult to assign a dollar amount to emotional turmoil and pain and suffering. The term General Damages encompasses all of the more subjective suffering as a result of your injury. These General Damages can include:
- Emotional Turmoil
- Physical Pain
- Disruption of Daily Lifestyle
- Loss of Enjoyment
- Loss of Consortium
- Recklessness or Gross Negligence (for injuries resulting from another party)
General Damages Multiplier
Because these General Damages cannot be calculated using bills to create a sum total, insurance companies and courts turn these General Damages into a Multiplier for their compensation formula.
The Multiplier can vary anywhere from 1.5 to 5, depending on the extent of the General Damages. The worse the General Damages were for the victim to endure, the higher the Multiplier number will be, which results in a higher overall payout.
The Compensation Formula generally looks like this:
$Special Damages x General Damages Multiplier (1.5-5) = $Total Compensation Paid
If Susan suffered a car accident where the provable sum total of her expenses equaled $12,000, that means that her Special Damages number is $12,000.
If Susan suffered nightmares about the accident, plus the emotional distress over driving again, plus she missed out on a possible work opportunity, and her injuries prevented her from enjoying her relationship with her spouse and family, that may earn her a General Damages Multiplier of 2.5.
Susan’s Compensation Formula would be:
$12,000 x 2.5 = $30,000
Each Case Is Different
It is important to note that every case is different and many insurance companies will not want you to know that they are using a formula like this one to calculate your payout. It could work to your benefit to have this information, but not share it so the other party will not know if you value your own multiplier as less than they would.
Your best bet is to hire a Personal Injury Lawyer who can help you gather the information you need to accurately calculate and argue for your highest compensation payout.