How is Car Accident Compensation Calculated?

Correctly calculating car accident compensation can be challenging. Some damages caused by a car crash are easier to calculate because there are bills or invoices to prove the value of the damages. However, placing a value on a person’s pain and suffering can be much more challenging.

What Damages are Included In a Car Accident Claim?

Car accidents cause a variety of damages. Some car crash might result in property damage only claims, in which only the motor vehicles sustained damage.

Many traffic accidents result in bodily injury and fatalities. When vehicles collide, the occupants can sustain life-threatening conditions and severe injuries.

Common physical injuries sustained in car accidents include:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Neck injuries, including whiplash
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Head injuries, including concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Amputations, burns, paralysis, and internal injuries

In addition to physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering caused by the accident and bodily injury, a person also sustains financial losses and expenses related to the accident. Those amounts are also considered damages to be included in a car accident claim.

How Much Are The Financial Damages for My Car Accident Claim Worth?

Common financial damages that are included in a car accident claim are:

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are the total cost of all medical treatment and care related to car accident injuries. Bills, invoices, and receipts are used to calculate the value of this damage. Medical expenses can include doctor’s visits, hospital bills, therapy, medications, medical equipment, diagnostic tests, and over-the-counter medications and supplies.

In the event of a permanent disability, medical expenses could also include the cost of ongoing, lifelong medical care and treatment.

Loss of Income

Statements from employers, copies of tax returns, and other evidence establishing income are used to calculate the value of lost income. If the person is self-employed, receives commissions, or has income that is not steady or defined, it can be more challenging to calculate the loss of income.

Loss of income may also include future lost wages or diminished earning capacity if the person has a permanent impairment that impacts his or her ability to work.

Personal Care

Personal care can range from assistance with household chores, dressing, bathing, and grooming. For cases involving permanent impairments, personal care could include future long-term nursing home care or assisted living care.

Other Out-of-Pocket Financial Losses

Other out-of-pocket financial losses include travel to and from doctor’s visits and medical treatments. It can also include modifications to the home for disabilities and over-the-counter medications and medical supplies. Receipts are required to prove the total value of these damages.

In most cases, the value of financial damages is the actual out-of-pocket losses associated with the accident, your injuries, and your recovery. If your case involves future damages, your attorney may retain medical experts and financial experts. These experts analyze your case and calculate the anticipated financial losses based on the severity of your injuries and other factors.

How Much are the Noneconomic Damages for My Car Accident Claim Worth?

It is much harder to calculate the value of pain and suffering damages. There is not an invoice or bill for pain and suffering. Likewise, there is not a standard formula that courts use to calculate noneconomic damages.

Noneconomic damages include:

  • Physical suffering and pain
  • Mental anguish and grief
  • Emotional distress, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disabilities and permanent impairments
  • Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life

The value of pain and suffering damages increases with the severity of the injury. Cases involving catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities have a higher value for noneconomic damages compared to cases involving minor injuries and complete recoveries.

However, mental anguish and emotional distress can be debilitating. A person may have PTSD even though the crash may not have caused permanent physical damage.

Keeping a journal throughout your recovery can help your attorney maximize the value of noneconomic damages. Note in your journal your daily pain levels and activities that you cannot perform because of your injuries.

Keep detailed notes about how your injuries prevent you from enjoying your life and interfere with your relationships with friends and family. If you experience nightmares and flashbacks, make notes about that in your journal. In many cases, a person who has PTSD or other emotional trauma may need counseling and therapy, which can also help in valuing noneconomic damages.

An attorney uses the facts of your case and the information you provide to develop a strong argument to justify the value of your pain and suffering damages.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Settling Your Claim

An insurance company will not tell you the actual value of your claim. The insurance company’s goal is to pay as little as possible for your claim. The claims adjuster may try to convince you that your pain and suffering damages are only worth 1.5 times the amount of your medical bills or double the total of financial damages.

This figure might be accurate. However, in most cases, it is not. Insurance companies typically undervalue noneconomic damages.

The best way to know how much your car accident claim is worth is to consult with an attorney. An experienced lawyer understands how to value a claim. Get the facts from a trusted attorney before you settle your car accident claim for a fraction of the actual value.

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