How Do You Value a Claim in a Personal Injury Case?

Accurately valuating a personal injury lawsuit or settlement demand can be a deceptively complex task, especially if someone else’s negligence caused you harm that will have life-altering consequences. In addition to identifying what losses you will sustain as a direct result of your defendant’s misconduct, you may also need to consider whether, and to what extent, your own conduct attributed to your injuries. If you want to figure out how to value a claim in a personal injury case, there is no substitute for guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney. That said, below is a brief, non-exhaustive overview of what factors you should consider when determining how much compensation you might be able to obtain throughout a successful claim.

Accounting for All Compensatory Losses

In most situations, the primary source of restitution that a personal injury victim may seek through a lawsuit or settlement demand would be based on their “compensatory” losses. These are essentially losses that can be traced directly back to a particular accident or injury, and that an injury victim can be “compensated” for in a way that either restores them completely to their pre-accident condition or gets as close as reasonably possible. Compensatory damages may be economic or non-economic in nature—meaning they can either have objective financial values or be subjectively valuated based on the plaintiff’s unique personal experiences—and commonly include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost work income and/or ability to work in the future
  • Personal property damage and/or loss
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Lost consortium
  • Lost enjoyment of life

During a private consultation, a capable personal injury lawyer could go into more specific detail about what damages a particular person could recover for and how to value them in their personal injury claim.

The Possible Impact of Contributory Fault

If a court finds that an injured person bears partial fault for causing or worsening their injuries through negligence of their own, that court may assign a percentage of total fault to that person. Then, the court may reduce the total amount of compensation available to that person in proportion to their share of fault compared to all other involved parties.

Some states go even farther by prohibiting any person found equally or more to blame than all other involved parties combined from getting any compensation whatsoever. Other states go further still by completely prohibiting recovery by anyone who bears any contributory fault at all. Once again, legal counsel could provide further clarification about what rules may apply to a particular person based on the circumstances of their case.

When Might Punitive Damages Be Available?

Similarly to contributory fault, each state has a slightly different approach when it comes to deciding when a court may impose punitive damages against the defendant in a personal injury claim and how valuable those damages may be. In general, though, these damages are available only in exceptionally rare circumstances where a defendant engaged in particularly egregious negligence or displayed willful malice towards the injured plaintiff(s).

If you have questions about how to value a claim in a personal injury case, a qualified personal injury lawyer could provide the answers you may need. Call today to set up a meeting.