The Right Demand Amount For Your Injury Case

Coming up with a reasonably accurate initial demand is an important step towards a favorable outcome in a personal injury case.

Knowing how much to ask for in a personal injury claim can be a big factor in whether or not you ultimately end up with fair compensation for your injuries. Get greedy, and you may find juries and insurance adjusters will be less inclined to take you seriously. Ask for too little, and they may decide not to pay you at all. Whether you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your valuation of your claim is as accurate as possible.

Asking for Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable damages based on financial obligations you’ve incurred due to your injury. Determining the amount of economic damages to seek in any given personal injury claim should be a relatively simple exercise.

Keep track of your medical expenses, including co-pays, prescriptions, over-the-counter medication and any other expense related to your treatment. Track mileage incurred to and from the doctor. Calculate the amount of wages you have lost as a result of your injury. Include the cost of any replacement services you have had to use -- if you would normally re-roof your house and you had to pay someone to do it because of your injury, that is an economic damage. Car repairs in an auto accident qualify as economic damages as well.

Once you have compiled all your actual expenses and/or money you have lost because of the accident, add it up and use that number as your amount of economic damages. Keep your proof of the amount readily available.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages

Knowing how much to ask for with regard to non-economic damages is a far more difficult proposition. Non-economic damages - which include things like pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship and various other intangibles -- don’t have an associated dollar amount. There is no receipt for depression. There is no dollar amount specified for the pain you’re feeling or the life events you have missed out on because of your injury.

An attorney can be of great assistance when deciding on a non-economic damage amount. Attorneys can research past claims and suits to determine common amounts requested -- and settlements and verdicts paid. Attorneys also have the benefit of working on countless claims, and usually have a general feel for how much your case will be worth. If your injuries are serious, you should definitely consider talking to a lawyer.

Obviously, if there is a dollar amount you believe will serve to make you whole, you should share it as soon as possible. But be warned -- not every case is a million dollar case. In fact, most settlements and awards in personal injury cases are far less. When you settle on a non-economic damages number, add it to your economic damages and you’ll have your total settlement demand.

How the Other Side Will Calculate Your Damages

Knowing how an insurance adjuster or opposing party (and their attorney) will calculate your damages should help you settle on a number. Insurance adjusters rely upon formulas to calculate damages. These formulas are based upon the thousands of cases their company handles.

As a general rule, insurance companies tend to take your economic damages and multiply them by 1.5 or two in less serious cases, and up to five in more serious cases, to determine your total damage award. Keep that in mind when deciding how much to ask for in your personal injury claim. Particularly if you are seeking a settlement without suit, knowing how the insurance adjuster will calculate your damages can often create an environment in which a quick settlement can be reached.

Both insurance adjusters and juries will reduce your claim for damages based upon your own percentage of fault. Take that into consideration when calculating your demand. You may want to adjust your number accordingly if you feel any verdict or settlement will be significantly reduced due to your shared fault. It is important to note that not every jurisdiction will apportion fault in the same manner, so your personal injury attorney should be able to advise you as to how your potential fault could affect your payout.

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