Personal Injury Compensation
There are two ways in which to attain personal injury compensation: through a lawsuit or settlement. Most cases are settled out of court, which can save both parties a lot of time, expense, and stress.
In the majority of car accident cases, the compensation payment is made by the negligent driver’s insurance carrier. Since the insurance agent’s primary goal is to save the company money, quite a bit of negotiation may be required in order for the victim to get a fair settlement.
In some cases, the victim is advised to pursue a civil action suit in addition to an insurance settlement. Since the settlement amount from an insurance company is limited to the coverage amount of the at-fault driver’s policy, an attorney may advise suing the driver when the value of damages exceeds the policy amount.
Types of Damage Claims
Personal Injury compensation is based on the type of damages that resulted from the accident. The most common types include:
The cost of medical care necessitated by an injury accident can include hospital bills, specialist visits, pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, and so on. Part of your damages claim should include a reasonable estimate for ongoing healthcare costs related to the injury, as determined by a professional. Survivors of a fatal accident victim may file a claim for wrongful death.
Those injured in an accident often can’t return to work right away. Part of their damage claim can include salary or wages they would have earned had they been working, possibly including bonuses or other benefits. If the injury is long-term or permanent, a lost wages claim can also include an estimate of future earnings, based on occupation, age, skill level, and such.
Pain & Suffering
In addition to physical pain, and accident victim may suffer from mental or emotional distress. This can manifest as depression, anxiety, or insomnia, among other things. It’s important that an accident victim talks to his or her doctor about all types of distress, not just physical pain. Personal injury compensation for pain and suffering are based on the type of injury, how severe it is, and any future medical issues that are commonly known to be associated with the type of injury (e.g. blunt force trauma can continue to cause memory loss even after the tissue has healed).
Loss of Consortium
This type of damage claim is typically filed by the injury victim’s spouse — which can include a domestic partner in California — to compensate for ways in which his or her life was severely impacted. For example, if a couple was trying to conceive children and an injury accident rendered one of them incapable. Since this is a subjective, non-economic claim, there is no set standard for estimating potential compensation.
Though rare in personal injury cases, it is possible for an accident victim to be awarded punitive damages. When the accident was caused by gross negligence, or the negligent party acted with malicious intent, an additional sum is added to the with the intent to “punish” that party.
How Personal Injury Compensation is Calculated
A personal injury settlement isn’t just a dollar-for-dollar match of the victim’s expenses. An insurance agent will use a formula that includes a “multiplier” of their own choosing. A good personal injury lawyer will negotiate a higher multiplier to maximize the insurance settlement.
If the case goes to court, the compensation award will most likely be based on the “per diem” method, in which a dollar value is determined and applied to every day that the victim suffered from their accident injuries.
How to Maximize Compensation Value
Factors that may increase the monetary value of a personal injury insurance settlement include:
- Medical evidence: official documentation to support your claims, like hospital records and test results.
- Treatment type: when invasive and long-term treatment is recommended by medical professionals.
- Recovery period: a long recovery period, especially if the plaintiff is physically unable to work.
- Pain level: severe pain and discomfort resulting from accident injuries.
- Permanence: serious and visible permanent effects from the injury.
Keep in mind that there is no way to determine how much a specific claim is worth from a website, despite the abundance of settlement “calculators” online.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that you believe warrants personal injury compensation, the single most important thing you need to do to maximize your settlement is talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer before speaking with any insurance company representative.