When you’ve been injured in an accident and decide to pursue a personal injury claim, you might wonder how much your case is worth. The best way to know how much your case is worth, is to know how much your “damages” are.
Damages is a legal term for the money awarded to a party in a lawsuit based on a monetized calculation of the injuries they sustained. Some injuries are easy to translate into money, for example, medical bills and lost wages already come with dollar amounts. Other injuries, like pain and suffering, can be a bit harder to monetize.
The damages that are easily calculable are often called Special Damages. These damages are easy to assign a dollar amount to because they are derived from things like:
- Automobile Repair Bills
- Medical Bills
- Future Medical Bills
- Therapy bills
- Lost wages (calculated from your salary)
Special damages are pulled straight from the actual dollar amounts assigned to your bills. If you want to know how much the Special Damages are worth in your case, you need only look at the actual numbers. Things are a little less clear when future costs must be calculated, but those numbers can be assessed through expert witnesses (professionals in their field) and past evidence (previous bills for example).
General damages intend to compensate a party for loss or injury that is not easily calculable. Common general damages include:
- Physical Pain and Suffering
- Mental Pain and Suffering
- Physical Disfigurement/Impairment
- Loss of Companionship
- Lower Quality of Life
The dollar amount awarded for general damages varies greatly from case to case. As a result, general damages are often estimated by using a “multiplier”.
Used by insurance adjusters and juries alike, the multiplier is way to place a dollar value on General Damages. It begins by calculating all the Special Damages (the ones that already have numbers assigned to them) then multiplies that sum by a number between 1.5 and 5. Which number between 1.5 and 5 is used is often hotly debated. But the multiplier should be based upon other factors in the case, including the severity and longevity of the general damages.
A special thanks to our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insights.