When you sustain injuries in an accident or other catastrophic event caused by someone else’s negligence of wrongdoing, you have the right to sue that person for personal injury. This is a civil suit, meaning that you can recover money damages from the defendant if you win your suit.
How much money you likely will receive, however, depends on numerous factors. Some of these, like damage caps, vary from state to state. Also, if you live in a comparative or contributory negligence state and the jury determines that you were partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you likely will receive a lower amount of damages than you otherwise would have.
Many factors, including the following, go into determining the worth of your personal injury:
- The nature, type and location of your injury
- The seriousness or extent of it
- The extent of medical and rehabilitation treatment you need
- The extent of your recovery and the length of time it takes
- How much time you must take off from work in order to recover
- How much lasting effect the injury will cause you in terms of your physical or mental impairment and your ability to resume your normal work
- The completeness of your medical and other records
- Your age at the time of the accident
- Your credibility and that of your expert witnesses when testifying to a jury
- The limits of the responsible party’s insurance policy
- The negotiating and trial abilities of your attorney
Many insurance companies use the multiplier method to calculate the potential worth of the lawsuit you bring against their policyholder. In its simplest form, this calculation works as follows:
Your economic damages amount x multiplier = your noneconomic damages amount + your economic damages amount = total worth of your claim
Your economic damages consist of your out-of-pocket expenses resulting from your injury. Your noneconomic damages consist of your more subjective losses, such as your pain and suffering caused by your injury. The multiplier generally ranges from 1.5 to 5 depending on the seriousness of your injury.
To better understand the multiplier method, assume the following:
- You sustain a catastrophic injury in a car accident that results in the amputation of your leg.
- The other driver was 100% at fault for the accident.
- Your economic damages amount to $100,000.
In the above example, the multiplier method would look like this:
$100,000 economic damages x 5 = $500,000 noneconomic damages + $100,000 economic damages = $600,000 total estimated worth of your injury
Your best strategy when injured is to consult with an experienced local personal injury attorney who can assess your case and do his or her own calculation of its worth. Keep in mind that there are a variety of specific multiplier methods, each of which can, and usually does, produce a different amount. Also, you and your personal injury lawyer, like from Davis & Brusca, need not accept the insurance company’s proffered settlement amount.