How to Estimate the Value of a Personal Injury Case
Every personal injury case is different, but negotiating a potential settlement always requires coming up with an estimated value for damages. This estimate can provide a starting point for negotiations. To come up with this number, we combine economic losses (called “special” damages) and noneconomic losses (called “general” damages).
Special damages include the cost of medical treatment, any income lost due to time missed at work, property damage caused by the accident, and other out-of-pocket losses. General damages include pain and suffering and the impact on the claimant’s day-to-day life.
To get a total amount of special damages, we include medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, lost future income, and an estimate of future medical expenses. These numbers are based on actual or expected costs and can be backed up with documentation.
General damages are tougher to quantify. The accepted method is to take the total amount of special damages and apply a multiplier. The multiplier is usually between 1.5 and 5. Taking that number times the special damages gives us an estimate for general damages. The multiplier is based on how severe, painful, and long-lasting the injury is. This number is negotiable, with insurers pushing for a lower number and claimants for a higher.
An experienced attorney can help to make sure all damages are included in an estimate and can fight to negotiate the best possible settlement for their client. If an acceptable settlement cannot be reached, the attorney should be ready and willing to take the case to trial.