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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

How to Calculate Your Personal Injury Damages for a Settlement Claim

When a person is injured in an accident or incident that was not their fault, they may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party through their insurance company. A personal injury settlement aims to restore financial stability to victims by covering their expenses and awarding further compensation for the pain and suffering caused.


Whether they suffer minor injuries or life-changing impairments, victims harmed due to someone else's negligence can- and should- make a personal injury claim for the damages.


Understanding how to calculate your personal injury damages gives people a clearer idea of what to expect. With the support of a trusted and dedicated quality injury attorney, victims can maximize their settlement value and get what their claim is worth.


What Are Personal Injury Damages?

What Are Personal Injury Damages?


Before getting into how a personal injury settlement value is calculated, it is vital to know the various damages that can be included. There are three types of damages potentially available in personal injury cases.


Economic Damages

Economic damages are the simplest element to calculate in personal injury claims. They cover all the out-of-pocket expenses the victim incurs as a result of their injury. Anything that has a dollar value is considered under economic damages.


These include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical bills and hospital bills

  • Estimated future medical expenses

  • The cost of getting to and from appointments for medical treatment

  • Lost wages and future lost income

  • Property damage

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses

  • In-home care costs

  • Funeral and burial costs (in wrongful death personal injury claims)

Non-Economic Damages

The tangible economic losses are just a starting point for the personal injury settlement calculator. There are also non-economic damages, meaning the things that don't come with a receipt.


Most non-economic damages come under pain and suffering, meaning the emotional distress and long-term impact on the quality of life that an injury causes. A car accident costs the victim more than just their out-of-pocket losses- it can interfere with their ability to live life as they did before and can have an impact on their dependents.


Examples of things that increase the dollar amount awarded for pain and suffering or non-economic damages include:

  • Permanent disability

  • Disfigurement

  • Reduced ability to earn money

  • Emotional trauma or PTSD

  • Wrongful death or a person with young children

Punitive Damages

Although not always applicable, the third category of damages in a personal injury case is punitive damages. This is only relevant in cases of gross negligence or where criminal charges are brought forward.


It is important to note that punitive damages are not generally considered part of the settlement negotiations but are dictated by a judge who decides how much compensation a person should pay a victim as a punishment for their actions. Drunk drivers or medical professionals four guilty of medical malpractice are just two examples of cases where punitive damages may apply.


How to Calculate Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

How to Calculate Damages in a Personal Injury Claim


When a person makes a personal injury or bodily injury claim, the first step is sending a demand letter with details of what they believe they are owed. Before doing this, they must calculate their expenses and decide how much to claim from the insurance company as they begin settlement talks.


A personal injury lawyer can help with this as well as explain what pain and suffering is in a personal injury case, as they have a better idea of what to include and how to calculate how much the claim is worth. They can also find ways to maximize the settlement and push for more compensation.


Here is a brief overview of the process involved in calculating damages in a personal injury case.

  • Start with the current economic damages: The first step is to collect the receipts for all medical costs, property damages, and expenses the victim has had to pay so far.

  • Calculate estimated future economic damages: All future medical bills or lost wages that are expected to follow (with evidence, usually in the form of medical reports) should be tallied.

  • Apply the multiplier method for non-economic damages: The multiplier for non-economic damages is a method used to calculate pain and suffering on a scale of 1.5 to 5. If an injury is unlikely to have a major lasting impact on a person's life, they would multiply their economic damages by 1.5 or 2. A permanent disability such as paralysis or brain damage would be calculated at the higher end. This gives the total for non-economic losses.

  • Add the two figures together: Add the economic and non-economic damage figures together for the final total.

Other Things to Consider

If the victim has any partial blame for the accident, their settlement total value should be adjusted accordingly. Say, for example, they were hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light, but they were also driving a little over the speed limit. They could be found to have 20% partial fault, so their settlement value would be reduced by 20%.


Also, the first figure is a starting point for settlement negotiations. Most insurance companies do not want to pay and will do everything possible to lower the amount paid to the claimant. One of the main points of contention is the multiplier number, so it is important to present a strong case for why the number is what it is. Include evidence of the permanence and impact of the injury to support the claim.


Lastly, a personal injury claim is not the same as a personal injury lawsuit. If settlement negotiations do not lead to an agreed amount by both sides, the victim must pursue the claim through an official lawsuit where the court will intervene. It is then up to a judge to decide how much the defendant should pay. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer questions such as do I have a case if I do not feel hurt?


Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer who Goes to War for Houston Accident Victims


A dedicated and experienced personal injury attorney at Schuerger Shunnarah in Houston, Texas, will go to war to secure maximum compensation for injured victims. Years of working on the legal front line have honed this elite team's ability to help clients achieve the justice and settlements they deserve. Arrange a free consultation today to take the first steps to financial recovery.

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