How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Assess How Much Money I’m Entitled To?
There are two types of losses in a personal injury case for which an attorney can recover damages: economic and non-economic. Both are calculated differently. Economic losses can be much more straightforward to assess as opposed to non-economic losses. Insurance companies will always offer less than what you deserve for your losses.
Economic losses include, but are not limited to:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Past and current lost wages due to inability to work
- Future lost wages due to inability to work for an extended period of time
- Damages to your vehicle/other property
Medical Bills – Past, Present & Future
It can be simple to put a monetary value on past and current medical bills. But when it comes to serious personal injury that will eventually lead to future medical bills, it’s imperative your attorney knows how much these future medical bills will be in order to get you a full and fair award for them. They should enlist the expertise of a “Life Care Planner” to help in assessing a monetary value for this. A Life Care Planner will serve as a liaison between medical providers and your personal injury attorney. They will meticulously evaluate your injury to produce a definitive understanding of what types of medical and rehabilitative services you will need in the future. They will then calculate the current yearly cost of such services. Finally, an Economist will calculate the future cost of those services for the remainder of your life (through the use of life expectancy tables). You deserve to be financially supported for all of your future medical bills arising from your personal injury. This is why Life Care Planners are an invaluable resource for personal injury cases.
Loss of Income – Present & Future
Assessing monetary value for loss of past income can be simple. First, you need to ascertain your current average weekly wage. Then determine how much time you’ve missed from work and do the math. But, placing a monetary value on future loss of income can requires expertise. Changes in the economy as well as your particular career (its demand can change in the future, and thus your value as an employee) and your ability to advance in your career have to be taken into account. We enlist the help of “Vocational Experts” and/or “Economists” as expert witnesses to calculate these factors and strengthen your case in order to maximize your compensation for future lost income.
A Vocational Expert can evaluate your specific job – what the position calls for in comparison to your skills, education, progress, etc. – and whether or not there are opportunities to advance in your job and acquire a higher salary. A debilitating personal injury might take away your potential for a raise or a promotion. Placing a carefully calculated monetary value on your future potential to earn income is crucial in getting you the full compensation you deserve.
An Economist can place a monetary value on your current and future lost income using their own knowledge of the economy. Economic inflation could directly impact what you would make in the future. So, Economists take into account these potential changes in their assessment of your future loss of income.
Non-Economic Losses and Damages
Non-economic damages or losses include physical pain and suffering as well as emotional pain and suffering. When you’re not in someone else’s shoes, how can you know how much they’re truly suffering, physically and/or emotionally? How do you know the degree of pain they’re in? Therefore, how can you place a monetary value on it?
Placing a Monetary Value on Pain & Suffering
Insurance companies have no set rule for placing a monetary value on pain and suffering, so fighting for compensation on your own simply isn’t in your best interest. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will know how to get you the compensation you deserve the pain and suffering your injury has caused you.
The jurisdiction in which your case is being held plays a huge role in the settlement offer they can place for your pain and suffering. Certain jurisdictions are plaintiff friendly and others are defense oriented. This is a product of the juries that hear these cases in those jurisdictions. For example, you’ve been in a car accident and have incurred a broken arm. If your case is pending in a jurisdiction where juries are particularly generous you can expect a larger settlement offer than if your case is pending in a jurisdiction where juries are known to be stingy.
In many scenarios, an experienced personal injury lawyer may look at cases similar to yours that have taken place in your jurisdiction in order to determine a fair settlement value. They’ll see what types of verdicts other individuals with similar injuries in your jurisdiction have been awarded, and come up with a monetary demand for settlement in close proximity to that number. So, if you live in Suffolk County, and your personal injury has left you with a broken leg from a bicycle accident, your lawyer may look at the most recent personal injury lawsuits in Suffolk County involving individuals who’ve suffered a broken leg. Then, they may come up with a similar settlement demand for your pain and suffering with those recent, comparable cases in mind.
When is the Right Time to Calculate the Value of My Case
The best time to calculate the value of a case is after you have fully recovered from your injuries, returned to work and are no longer receiving medical treatment. However, in certain cases there may not be a full recovery. In those cases the best time to calculate your damages is when the full extent of your injuries can be ascertained and you have reached maximum medical improvement.