How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
After dealing with a personal injury, handling medical bills, talking to insurance companies, and taking time off work, you probably have one main question on your mind when it comes to your personal injury case: how much is it worth? Although there is no one answer to this question, you can get a better idea of the potential value of your case by breaking down the types of damages you could be eligible for, as well as the price of your personal injury. Here’s how to get an approximate calculation of your damages.
Economic Damages: Exact Numbers
The economic damages are the easiest damages to calculate in a personal injury claim. These are the losses that have exact, hard values that won’t change. Economic damages can refer to past, present, and future expenses relating to the case. They are financial losses that your accident and injuries caused you and your family, including:
- Past and current medical bills. Keep copies of all medical bills relating to your accident. Add up the costs of an ambulance, hospital stay, treatments, surgeries, medications, doctor’s appointments, therapies, medical devices, live-in care, disability modifications, and any other healthcare your injuries required.
- Future medical costs. If your accident caused long-term or permanent injuries or disabilities, estimate how much your injuries will cost over your lifetime. This amount will vary based on the severity of damages and your projected lifespan. A personal injury lawyer can help you come up with this amount more accurately.
- Property damage repairs or replacement. Add up the costs of what it will take to repair your vehicle (or other property) or replace it. You may need to obtain official price quotes from professionals.
- Lost wages and capacity to earn. Calculate your lost income from missed days at work, as well as income you might have lost in the future (job opportunities, promotions, etc.) because of a disability. Lost wages should be your gross earnings, before tax.
Economic damages can include anything you spent money on out of pocket because of your accident and injuries, including attorney’s fees and court costs. Document all of your expenses as proof of what your injuries cost.
Non-Economic Damages: Up to the Jury
Here’s where it gets more difficult to determine what your case could be worth. California courts permit injured parties to seek restitution for non-economic damages, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, and psychological distress. Since these damages don’t have specific dollar amounts assigned to them, it is up to the jury to hear the case and decide an appropriate value to award. In general, the more severe the injury, the more money in non-economic damages it will be worth.
A catastrophic injury, for example, would be worth more in the courtroom than one that does not permanently injure or disfigure the victim. Most juries will multiply the total amount of economic damages by a number that’s representative of the impact the injury has had on the victim to come up with non-economic damages. The plaintiff’s age, disability, severity of injuries, and many other factors can determine what this amount will be. The ability of your local personal injury attorney in Sacramento to describe the impact on your life can also sway the decision.
Punitive Damages: Up to the Judge
Finally, a judge might decide to award a victim additional punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent, malicious, or intentional. A judge may issue this award as a message warning others in the community not to commit the same acts. The goal of punitive damages is to properly reimburse the victim if the judge doesn’t think compensable damages are enough. You will need to consult with an attorney to learn what your unique case could be worth, but a look at some past case results can give you an idea of what you might expect.