If you were involved in an accident, you might wonder, How much is my personal injury case worth?
Personal injury cases can vary significantly in value depending on several factors. Courts use “damages” to calculate the value of a personal injury claim.
While no case has a guaranteed value, understanding how to calculate damages will help you understand what to expect as your case moves forward.
Who Pays for Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases involve an individual or party who suffers some type of injury (plaintiff) and a party who caused that injury (defendant).
Whoever is legally responsible (liable) for an accident must pay damages to compensate the injured person or people for their suffering. Liability will depend on the unique circumstances and facts of each case. In an auto accident case, if another driver is 100% at-fault, you will have a strong case. You can recover a larger damages award, depending on the extent of your injuries and your property damage.
However, if you contributed to the car accident in some way, your percentage of liability will subtract from the total damages you can recover. For example, if the other driver was 60% at fault and you were 40% at fault, you can recover only 60% of the total calculated damages award.
What Are the Types of Damages?
Damages in personal injury cases fall into two main categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include several sub-categories and are meant to compensate you for any losses you suffered. Below are some of the most common categories of compensatory damages.
In a personal injury case such as a car accident, drivers and passengers will commonly suffer physical injuries and require medical treatment.
If the other driver caused the accident, he or she must cover the cost of your medical treatment.
Medical treatment damages include things like:
- Ambulance transportation,
- Hospitalization (if necessary), and
- Medical procedures or surgeries required to treat the injuries.
Medical treatment damages include medical care you have already received because of the accident and any future treatment you may need to recover for your injuries. Severe injuries may lead to large damage awards to cover the cost of long-term medical care.
Suffering injuries may affect your ability to work and earn income.
You are entitled to compensation for any lost wages while you recover. As with medical treatment damages, income damages include income you have already lost due to your injuries as well as any future loss in income if you require long-term medical care and recovery.
Pain and Suffering
Part of the damages calculation includes non-economic costs, such as pain and suffering. You may be entitled to damages awards for your pain and suffering caused by the accident.
Pain and suffering can include:
- Emotional distress,
- Ongoing physical discomfort, or
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Any physical or psychological trauma you suffered because of the accident may qualify as pain and suffering.
Property Damage or Loss
In personal injury cases involving damage or destruction of property, you may be entitled to damages awards to cover the cost of your property loss.
For example, in an auto accident, if another driver was responsible for damage to or destruction of your car, you may be entitled to compensation for the value of the vehicle or any necessary repairs.
Property loss may include:
- Vehicle damage,
- Destruction of clothing, and
- Destruction of other valuable belongings in the car that suffered damage.
It is important to note any valuables in your car or on your person that were damaged. You may be entitled to damages to cover their cost.
In rare cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was particularly reckless or severe, a court may award punitive damages.
Courts award punitive damages in addition to any compensatory damages. Whereas compensatory damages should “make someone whole” for their losses, punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party for particularly egregious behavior.
\Punitive damages are often costly and are designed to deter or discourage some type of action from reoccurring. Many states, including California, set an upper limit on the size of a punitive damages award. However, punitive damages can commonly reach hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
Contact a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you suffered injuries or property damage and are wondering, How much is my lawsuit worth? contact the attorneys at The Wakeford Law Firm today. Our experienced staff has handled hundreds of personal injury cases. We understand the relevant law, and we fight diligently to earn our clients the damages awards they deserve. Our team cares deeply about our clients, and we will support you every step of the way.
To schedule a free consultation, call our offices at 415-569-7495 or fill out an online form today.