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Any time someone is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, they may have a personal injury claim. Every injury claim is different and your total settlement depends on what led to the injury, the extent of the injury, the medical bills, lost wages, and distress as a result.
When it comes to calculating a personal injury claim, you must consider two categories of damages: general damages and special damages.
Special Damages or Economic Damages
These damages are easy to calculate as they are the measurable amounts of money you’ve lost and may continue to lose as a result of the injury and at-fault party’s negligence. Here’s where you consider the lost wages and medical bills, both past and future. You’ll consider:
- Out of pocket expenses for medical equipment, medications, mileage, and transportation to and from medical appointments
- Lost or damaged personal items
- Replacement costs, such as housekeeping, yard work, child care, etc. while the injured party was unable to fulfill their usual role
Part of what makes this number hard to determine, however, is that in cases of severe injury medical bills will continue to pile in. Continuing care adds to these expenses. The injured party may be left with life-long effects of the injuries that make it impossible to return to your line of work from before the accident. While in some cases they may be able to find work in a new field, your injuries may mean that you are unable to return to work at all. This heavily influences claim value.
The total here sets the foundation of the claim value. If there are no medical bills, the claim won’t go far. Always include the full amount of every medical bill, even if health insurance covered some of all of the costs when you were treated.
Remember, some medical services may have more than one bill - such as a facility fee for where equipment was used and a bill from the doctor who interpreted the results or otherwise performed the medical care. If a patient is seen in the emergency room, there will be a bill from the hospital, and a bill from the treating doctor.
General Damages or Non-Economic Damages
This is where “pain and suffering” comes in. And that’s hard to calculate because there’s no universal framework for how much someone suffers. Two people in the same type of accident will have different pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering generally include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional stress
- Persistent sleep loss
- Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Inability to concentrate
Your total personal injury claim combines the special and general damages to arrive at the final number. This number may or may not represent your actual settlement amount.
Unfortunately, calculating damages and the value of your personal injury claim can be quite daunting. There are a lot of circumstances to consider, and there’s no clear-cut formula to get you the final number. You can use this calculator from Denmon Pearlman to help you.