There are several important steps to understanding California’s rules for personal injury and how they may be applied to each unique situation. Medical bills or treatments associated with a personal injury are only a few examples associated with injury expenses, so it is key that an individual knows how to get the most for their recovery and lawsuit. Here’s how to calculate a personal injury settlement value in California.
What Are Injury Damages and Why Are They Important?
Damages are defined as the amount of money awarded to a plaintiff by the court in a successful lawsuit. A personal injury settlement is typically the most effective method of financial recovery, especially in cases where an individual’s injury is the fault of someone else. Damages from a personal injury settlement are often considered to be a determining factor for whether or not to file a lawsuit, taking into account how much is expected to be gained as a result.
Related: Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury: The Difference
Compensatory vs. Punitive Damages
In California lawsuits, there are two broad categories that personal injury damages fall under: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are those that reimburse a plaintiff for losses associated with an injury. This type of injury reimbursement includes both economic and non-economic damages, which may comprise medical treatments, physical payments, or emotional distress.
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are when the court decides that a defendant needs to be punished for the injury imposed on the plaintiff in a way other than solely reimbursing them. The goal of punitive damages is to essentially deter the defendant from committing any similar wrongful actions in the future.
Related: What Are Punitive Damages & When Are They Awarded?
How a Personal Injury Settlement Value is Calculated in California
Correctly calculating the value of a personal injury claim is one of the most important parts of the process. This step can either encourage or deter the opposing party from settling. Most insurance companies and injury attorneys turn to some variations of a formula in determining settlement amounts. However, the basic steps that guide this calculation rely on several precedents before making a claim. These factors may include:
- Establishing liability
- Documentation of injuries & damage
- List of claims (medical expenses, property damage, etc)
- It is important to note is that economic damages and non-economic damages must be calculated separately
- Punitive damages
- Compensation lost
Once all information has been gathered, including that stated above, a value may be calculated based upon claims of pain and suffering, provable extent of injuries, and estimates for any future care or fees. Insurance companies will typically evaluate an individual’s claims beginning with adding any costs of medical expenses, lost property, wage loss, etc. which are called special damages (economic). Next, general damages (non-economic) will be determined, which are losses that do not have a specific monetary cost attached. General damages can be further broken down into pain and suffering, which have their own formulas for calculations. The State of California uses two formulas for this type of calculation: multiplier formula and per diem formula.
Together, special damages and general damages make up compensatory damages.
Related: Benefits of Settling a Personal Injury Case
California Comparative Fault Law
When determining any claims based on personal injury, California considers it crucial to consider whether the individual, themself, who was injured played any role in the incident in question. Whether or not the individual was at fault, California courts evaluate whether or not they could have done anything to avoid or prevent the injury from occurring. In this instance, if a court feels that a person is a certain percentage at fault for their incident, then their award will be reduced by that percentage.
Related: California Pure Comparative Negligence
FAQs About How to Calculate a Personal Injury Settlement Value in California
How can a person tell if their lawsuit will be worthwhile?
This may be answered best by their attorney on a case-by-case basis. Typically, larger injuries equivocate to larger damage awards. There are a number of factors that are taken into account when calculating the value of a person’s claim, so consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer may be the best way to determine what to expect in receiving the recovery deserved.
Is there a general formula for calculating appropriate compensation for a claim?
The general rule of thumb for estimating appropriate compensation for claims runs from 1.5 to 5 times the total amount of Economic Damages as the estimate for Non-Economic Damages. The value overall is undoubtedly determined by a number of factors, as outlined earlier, and will differ from case to case.
If you have any more questions about how to calculate a personal injury settlement value in California, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in California today!