table of contents
- How Much Compensation Could I Receive?
- Determining The Value Of Pain And Suffering Damages
- Valuing Special Damages
- Valuing General Damages
- Proving Your Desired Compensation
- Personal Injury Calculators And Insurance Carriers
- Settlement Calculators
- Insurance Regulators Receive $10 Million From Allstate
- Aspects Of Personal Injury Valuations
Calculating Personal Injury Compensation: How Much is Your Personal Injury Case Worth?
Insurance adjusters will provide you with their calculations regarding the value of your personal injury claim. Can you trust that their valuation represents your losses? Most of the time, the answer is a resounding no. Your claim could be worth much more than what they offer you, which is why you should choose to retain a California personal injury attorney to represent you.
Unfortunately, there is no formula to determine the exact amount of compensation you are owed. Fair compensation is often difficult to determine, but many factors can help you estimate what you should receive for your damages. Keep in mind that no two personal injury cases are exactly the same, and how much you receive depends on your medical expenses, lost income, and your pain and suffering. Read on to determine what our injury claim is really worth.
How Much Compensation Could I Receive?
This is a common question for anyone considering a personal injury claim; whether it be as a result of injuries in a car accident or a medical malpractice incident. Settlements and monies awarded by the court usually come in between as little as $3,000 and as much as $75,000. One study revealed that 70 percent of claimants received a settlement in their case.
Your injury resulted in various types of losses, often referred to as damages by insurance companies. Damages fall into two categories, and most injured individuals will have some from each.
- Special Damages: These damages are also known as economic damages. They are easily calculable and represent the monies you lost due to the negligence of the defendant. Special damages include elements such as lost wages and medical expenses.
- General Damages: These are also called non-economic damages, and they represent the intangible losses you have suffered or will suffer in the future. They include pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of consortium, scarring, and disfigurement, and mental anguish.
Determining the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages
Insurance companies, judges, and juries calculate your pain and suffering damages by first determining how many days you anticipate the pain and suffering to continue. A daily rate is applied to each of those days and multiplied by the number of days you will endure the pain and suffering. They also use guidelines provided by the Judicial Studies Board that gives advice to judges as to how much particular injuries are worth.
Valuing Special Damages
Calculating special damages is usually straightforward. The monetary costs of your injury are added together. Be sure to include items like:
- Past and future lost income
- Medical expenses including therapies and nursing care
- Related out-of-pocket expenses such as medication, transportation to medical appointments, and medical devices
- Costs for things you could not do while you were injured like childcare, housekeeping, and yard work
- Lost or damaged personal items, also known as property damage
Medical expenses are a necessary element of a personal injury claim. Include the full amounts of your medical and prescription costs, even if your health insurance covered some or all of the bill. You should also be sure to include all of your bills related to your services. For example, if you had imaging like MRIs, CT scans, or X-rays, you will likely receive a bill from the hospital or facility and also for the radiologist who interpreted the test and provide the results. If you went to the emergency room, you will usually receive separate bills for the hospital and for the physician who treated you.
Valuing General Damages
General damages are undoubtedly more difficult to assign value as they are subjective. There is no way to measure each claimant’s general damages monetarily, and every case is different. Even if you sustained the exact same injury as someone else, your pain and suffering will differ. You could develop anxiety and depression, and the other person may not. Your injury could prevent you from working while another person may still be able to do their job.
Often referred to simply as pain and suffering, general damages can include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of consortium
- Lack of concentration
- Sleep disturbances
The best way to estimate how much your general damages might be worth is to take the value of your special damages and multiply it by one or two. If you have a mild to moderate injury, most insurance companies will allow 1-2 times the amount of your special damages in general damages.
If you sustained significant injuries, you should hire an experienced California personal injury attorney who will work to ensure the insurance company provides you with fair compensation for your pain and suffering.
Personal injury calculations for high-dollar personal injuries take into consideration:
- Severe Mental Anguish: You should receive more compensation if your mental anguish is severe. This could be easier to establish in your case if you needed to see a mental health professional for your mental anguish.
- Permanent Injuries or Persistent Pain: General damages can also be greater if you will have long-term pain, permanent physical injuries, scarring, amputations, disabilities, or paralysis.
- Shocking Events: If your injury was caused by a traumatic event such as a shooting, an aviation crash, or entrapment in a burning vehicle, your general damages would likely be worth more.
Determining the value of your general damages is up to you. Only you know the pain and suffering you are going through. What makes these claims difficult is that you must prove your pain and suffering to the insurance company, convincing them that they need to pay you what you deserve.
Proving Your Desired Compensation
Once you determine what your personal injury claim is worth, the next step is you or your California personal injury attorney establishing to the insurance company that:
- The person they insured owed you a duty of care or had an obligation not to harm you
- That person breached their duty to you and was negligent in their actions
- Their negligence directly caused your injuries
- Your injuries caused your damages for which the insured is liable for
Establishing these critical points is done by providing photographs of your injuries or the accident, witness statements, medical records, supporting documentation and bills, and other pieces of evidence. You or your attorney will send your demand for compensation along with copies of your medical records and other types of relevant evidence.
The estimate of your claim is the sum of your special damages and your general damages. This sum should be used as your demand for compensation.
Personal Injury Calculators and Insurance Carriers
Most of the time, the insurance adjuster will deny your first demand for compensation. It is the job of the adjuster to carefully examine your demand for compensation to determine how you calculated the amounts and if the evidence you provided supports your demand.
They will also determine if the insured individual is entirely liable for the injuries you sustained. The evidence for your special damages will also be reviewed for legitimacy. For general damages, the adjuster will make a determination as to how much they believe to be appropriate and compare it to the amount you are requesting. Their assessment will always be less than yours. Settlement negotiations rely heavily on you or your California personal injury attorney being able to convince the adjuster that the evidence you provided supports your calculations fully.
Personal injury settlement calculators do exist and are used by many insurance companies to reduce their payouts. Colossus is one of the most common programs of this type. These programs are created specifically for insurance companies. They assign values to your special damages and other elements of your personal injury claim. Colossus and other applications of this type will utilize hundreds of factors in your claim, such as if you are represented by a California personal injury lawyer and the average settlement amounts for similar injuries in your region.
California personal injury attorneys aggressively contest programs like Colossus as they are catered to the insurance company itself, and multiple variables will unfairly decrease the claimant’s compensation. Even a simple clerical error in the system can unfairly reduce the value of your damages. These programs are unable to calculate the depth of your pain and suffering and don’t take into account the negative impact of your injuries on your life. Instead, they generalize how much you are owed based on statistics that cannot measure an individual’s pain and suffering.
Insurance Regulators Receive $10 Million from Allstate
In 2009, a multi-state investigation performed by insurance commissioners was launched regarding Allstate Insurance Company’s use of the Colossus program to value personal injury car accident cases. Insurance commissioners looked at how:
- Colossus is programmed
- Adjusters are trained to use the program
- Adjusters input information about claims
- Colossus is “tuned” or updated to reflect current claim settlement values
Although investigators did not find any company-wide problems with the underpayment of injury claims, they did determine that there is a need for more oversight and improved adjustor Colossus training.
As a result, Allstate paid regulators $10 million and agreed to put the investigator’s recommendations in place, which included telling claimants when Colossus is used to calculate the value of their claim.
Aspects of Personal Injury Valuations
If your claim involves birth injuries, product liability, or medical malpractice, you are facing complex litigation against corporate entities. This requires the representation of a skilled California personal injury attorney. People with other personal injury claims involving negligence, such as car accidents, dog bites, or slip and fall accidents also significantly benefit from the representation of a seasoned attorney to deal with the insurance company and pursue fair compensation for damages.
Factors that can significantly impact the insurance company’s calculations for personal injury settlements include:
- Policy Limits: If the limits of the insured’s policy are less than your damages, you will need to file a lawsuit against the negligent person for the difference.
- Shared Fault: It is almost a guarantee that the insurance adjuster will attempt to place some of the blame for your accident on you. In some states, they can deny your claim based on any negligence of yours that they believe contributed to your injuries.
- Inconsistent Medical Expenses: The insurance company will only pay for medical expenses that they feel are reasonable and necessary. If a personal injury medical provider inflates your medical bills with excessive tests and treatments, the adjuster can refuse to calculate your damages with them.
Increase Your Injury Compensation with an Experienced California Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance companies prefer that you reach a settlement with the assigned adjuster in your claim without the use of a California personal injury attorney. They know that injured parties who have legal counsel often receive more for their damages than those who do not. The last thing they want to happen is for you to secure the representation of an experienced California personal injury attorney.
If your claim winds up in a trial, there is always a risk to the insurance company that a jury could determine that your damages are worth far more than even your original settlement demand. It is also risky for injured individuals to go to trial, as the jury could determine they are owed far less or even owed nothing. An experienced California personal injury lawyer can negotiate a fair settlement that will keep both parties out of a courtroom facing risk.
The Personal Injury Pre-Litigation Process