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Determining Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

There are two main categories of damages which are recoverable in a personal injury claim, compensatory damages and non-economic damages. Compensatory damages, also known as economic losses or special damages, include easy to quantify damages, like medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic losses, also referred to as general damages, are damages available for pain and suffering and other more difficult to quantify injuries. Pain and suffering includes physical discomfort, mental anxiety, stress and depression.

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How Do You Monetize Non-economic Losses?

To value non-economic claims, you need to use a multiplier. Insurance adjusters will normally add up all of your economic losses, which are easy to quantify, and multiply the total by a number between 1.5 and 5. Which multiplier you use will depend on a number of specific facts surrounding your case. The more severe your injuries and the more costly your treatment, the higher the multiplier will be.

Deciding what multiplier to use is often a source of contention between parties. Plaintiffs will always argue for the use of a higher multiplier, while defendants and insurance adjusters will push for a lower multiplier. Once a multiplier is agreed upon, however, you can come up with a ballpark figure of the value of your claim, which provides a nice starting point for settlement discussions.

Adjust Your Settlement Target for Your Own Liability

Florida is a comparative fault state, which means that any personal injury recovery you may be entitled to will be reduced by the same percentage amount the court or jury determines is your fault. For example, if a court decides you are 25% responsible for the incident which caused your injuries, then any recovery you are entitled to will be reduced by 25%. You may need to reduce your target settlement amount if your own carelessness “contributed” to the accident. Depending on the state in which the accident occurred, the law requires a jury award to be reduced by your percentage of fault — and in a few cases, to zero.

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