How Is My Compensation Calculated in a Personal Injury Case?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident , on another’s property , or as a result of medical malpractice or other negligence, you may have a case for personal injuries. Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Bethany Schneider at Schneider Law, P.C., knows that when deciding whether to bring a case against the party or parties at fault, your primary consideration will likely be your potential financial recovery , known in the law as “damages.”
Calculating money damages involves an analysis of several components, including your medical expenses and lost earnings. This category is referred to as your “economic” damages. There is also a non-economic category of damages, which encompasses physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of ability to labor, physical impairment, and inconvenience. There are no set formulas or calculations for non-economic damages. Some people have heard of pain and suffering as being 2 or 3 times the amount of medical expenses. But that is not a requirement, and sometimes you may get more and sometimes you may get less.
If your case goes to trial, the jury will decide the issue of damages. Your attorney will request a specific amount from the jury during closing arguments, supported by documentary evidence and testimony presented throughout the trial. If your case is resolved without going to trial, whether through an alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration or mediation, or by a negotiated settlement, the same evidence will be considered in calculating your damages. Documentation is key, so start collecting receipts and other proof of losses as soon as possible after the injury. Keeping a journal about the effects that an injury has on your life is also helpful.
Calculating Economic Damages
In a lawsuit, you will be entitled to recover “necessary expenses resulting from the injury.” This includes, but is not limited to, past medical expenses for:
The standard is “necessary” and “reasonable.” In awarding economic damages, the jury will be instructed to consider the reasonable value of such expenses as were “reasonably necessary.” The jury may also make any award for future medical expenses if further medical treatment will be required as a result of the injuries.
Loss of earnings (past and future) may also be recovered where applicable. As for past earnings, the jury will be instructed to consider what you were making at the time of the injury, what was made since the injury, and “the amount customarily paid in the locality for the kind of work” you do. The calculation of future lost earnings is more complex, as the jury’s consideration will include factors such as earning capacity, life expectancy, and interest. Bethany is experienced in explaining damages to Georgia juries with the goal of simplifying the process while maximizing your recovery.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Damages for your pain and suffering are more difficult to quantify. In calculating non-economic damages, the jury will be instructed to consider both mental and physical pain resulting from the injury, as well as future pain and suffering. While there is no mathematical formula for determining damages for pain and suffering, jurors will be instructed to be guided by their “enlightened conscience” and to “compensate the plaintiff with fairness to the defendants.” Your attorney will be permitted to “present any reasonable theory” of damages to the jury for its consideration.