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This is a really good question frequently asked by individuals who have a personal injury claim. “How will the losses I’ve incurred be assessed for monetary value?” We’d like to help break this question down for our readers, followers, and anyone who needs a direct answer. Problem is, the answer is not as simple as one might wish.
There are two types of losses, economic and non-economic in a personal injury case. Both are calculated differently, and it’s imperative that you have an experienced personal injury attorney with the knowledge and resources available to assess the monetary value of both types of losses. Economic losses can be much more straightforward to assess as opposed to non-economic losses. But both require the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Insurance companies will always offer less than what you deserve for your losses/damages. So make sure there is someone on your side with the knowledge to tell you what you are really entitled to for each and every loss you’ve incurred or will likely incur.
Economic losses can be calculated by an experienced personal injury attorney. Economic losses include, but are not limited to:
Assessing monetary value for loss of past income can be simple. First, you need to ascertain your current average weekly wage. Then determine how much time you missed from work and do the math. But, placing a monetary value on future loss of income can be more difficult. Changes in the economy as well as your particular career (its demand can change in the future, and thus your value as an employee) and your ability to advance in your career have to be taken into account, as well. An experienced personal injury attorney will enlist the help of a “Vocational Expert” and/or an “Economist” as expert witnesses to calculate these factors and strengthen your case in order to maximize your compensation for future lost income.
A Vocational Expert can evaluate your specific job – what the position calls for in comparison to your skills, education, progress, etc. – and whether or not there are opportunities to advance in your job, leading to a higher salary. A debilitating personal injury might take away your potential for a raise or a promotion. Placing a carefully calculated monetary value on your future potential to earn income is crucial in getting you the full compensation you deserve.
An Economist can place a monetary value on your current and future lost income using their own knowledge of the economy. Economic inflation could directly affect what you would make in the future. So, Expert Economists take into account these potential changes in their assessment of your future loss of income.
Non-economic damages or losses include physical pain and suffering as well as emotional pain and suffering. This can be difficult to place a monetary value on. When you’re not in someone else’s shoes, how can you know how much they’re truly suffering, physically and/or emotionally? How do you know the degree of pain they’re in? Therefore, how can you place a monetary value on it?
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to get you the best financial outcome to compensate for your non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. That’s why it’s so important to always have an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you should you ever be injured at the fault of another. Insurance companies have no set rule for placing a monetary value on pain and suffering, so fighting for compensation on your own simply isn’t in your best interest.
Experienced personal injury attorneys know that the jurisdiction your case is being held in plays a huge role in the settlement offer they can place for your pain and suffering. Certain jurisdictions are plaintiff friendly and others are defense oriented. This is a product of the juries that hear these cases in those jurisdictions. For example, you’ve been in a car accident and have incurred a broken arm. If your case is pending in a jurisdiction where juries are particularly generous you can expect a larger settlement offer than if your case is pending in a jurisdiction where juries are known to be stingy.
In many scenarios, an experienced personal injury lawyer may look at cases similar to yours that have taken place in your jurisdiction in order to determine a fair settlement value. They’ll see what types of verdicts other individuals with similar injuries in your jurisdiction have won, and come up with a monetary demand for settlement in close proximity to that number. So, if you live in Suffolk County, and your personal injury has left you with a broken leg from a bicycle accident, your lawyer may look at the most recent personal injury lawsuits involving individuals who’ve suffered a broken leg. Then, they may come up with a similar settlement demand for your pain and suffering with those recent, comparable cases in mind.
The best time to calculate the value of a case is after you have fully recovered from your injuries, returned to work and are no longer receiving medical treatment (note: the right time to calculate your case is different than the right time to settle your case). However, in certain cases there may not be a full recovery. In those cases the best time to calculate your damages is when the full extent of your injuries can be ascertained and you have reached maximum medical improvement.
We hope this helps our followers in understanding how damages/losses are assessed in personal injury cases. We also hope it helps others realize how very important it is to have an experienced personal injury lawyer representing you. These losses are assessed much differently by insurance companies, and you simply won’t win the amount you need for a full, financially backed recovery without a resourceful lawyer representing you.