Battle Born Injury Lawyers | December 28, 2022 | Car Accidents
Every injury case has unique facts that go into calculating the compensation the accident victim can seek. But you can apply certain principles to the circumstances of your case to estimate how much you can expect from a car accident settlement.
This estimate helps you to set your expectations for your claim. It also tells you when the insurance company has made a fair offer that you should consider accepting. Finally, it can guide your post-accident planning of medical treatments and therapy sessions.
Estimating the Value of Your Claim
Car accident cases usually rest on negligence. In Nevada, once you prove negligence, you can ask a jury for special damages and general damages.
Special damages include your economic losses. The name comes from the fact that these damages are special or unique to the accident victim. As a result, the injured person must prove the existence and amount of the losses suffered.
General damages cover your non-economic losses. The term “general damages” refers to the universal nature of these damages. The accident victim does not need to prove the value or amount of these losses. Instead, the jury or claims adjuster can presume their existence and amount.
To estimate the value of your claim, you add together your economic and non-economic losses. This tells you the amount a claims adjuster or jury could award you.
Economic losses simply encompass all the financial costs resulting from your injuries.
Some examples of economic losses include:
- Costs for treatment, surgery, therapy, and medication
- Lost wages while you recover from your injuries
- Diminished earning capacity resulting from disabilities
You will demonstrate economic losses using documentation like checks, credit card statements, bank statements, bills, paycheck stubs, and other financial records.
Your economic losses can also cover future medical care. These costs are more speculative, so you may need an expert witness opinion that quantifies them.
The calculation of economic losses involves almost no discretion. You simply add up the amounts of all the losses. For example, if you had a $5,000 ambulance ride, a $25,000 hospital stay, and a $10,000 physical therapy bill, you had $40,000 in economic losses.
Non-economic losses cover all the non-financial costs of your injuries. You can think of these as human costs or “quality of life” costs. If your injuries adversely affected your quality of life, even temporarily, you incurred non-economic losses.
Some examples of non-economic losses include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Disabilities that affect your home or work life
These losses do not have a dollar value, and the law does not require you to place a dollar value on them. Instead, you prove the severity and duration of your injuries, and the jury or claims adjuster decides fair compensation for your non-economic losses.
There are many ways to put a dollar value on unquantifiable non-economic losses:
In the per diem method, the jury or claims adjuster places a daily value on the non-economic losses you suffered. A broken arm might get valued at $50 per day, while third-degree burns on your face and head might get valued at $500 per day.
The jury or claims adjuster then multiplies the daily value by the number of days you suffered the injury. For instance, a broken arm heals in about six weeks; at $50 per day, this gives non-economic losses of $2,100.
Conversely, you might live with the disfigurement, pain, and anguish of third-degree burns for the rest of your life. If you are in your 30s, you probably have about 40 years of life left. At $500 per day, this formula gives $7.3 million.
In the multiplier method, the claims adjuster or jury picks a multiplier between 1.5 and 5.0 based on the severity and duration of your injuries. If you suffered a severe injury or your injuries left you permanently disabled, you would receive a higher multiplier. If you only suffer a temporary, minor injury, you might have a multiplier of 1.5.
You add up your economic losses and multiply them by the selected multiplier. The result tells you the total damage award.
Thus, if you have economic damages of $20,000 and the jury selects a 2.5 multiplier, your total damage award is $50,000. Of this amount, $20,000 was awarded for economic damages, and $30,000 was awarded for non-economic damages.
Settling Your Car Accident Case
The first offer you receive from the insurer to settle your car accident claim will probably be very low. Some insurers do not even offer enough to cover your proven economic losses.
You can work with your lawyer to negotiate a higher offer. You will make a reasonable counteroffer based on the value you calculated. The offers and counteroffers will go back and forth. Hopefully, you will reach a number that you and the insurer can accept.
In most situations, this number will fall between the total case value calculated by you and your lawyer and the insurer’s initial offer. Ideally, you will fight the insurer until you recover all of your economic losses and some of your non-economic losses.
For example, suppose that you calculate that your economic losses were $50,000 and your non-economic losses were $100,000. This means you had $150,000 in losses, and you will try to negotiate a settlement between $50,000 and $150,000. Such an amount would cover your economic losses with something left over for pain and suffering.
What to Expect if You Cannot Settle
Sometimes, you will not reach a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurer, and you will need to file a lawsuit.
Even if you file a lawsuit, your case will probably not reach trial, since only 3% of personal injury lawsuits reach trial. But the case will take longer and require more work from you and your lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement.
Regardless of the path your case takes, working with an experienced car accident attorney can ensure you have the best chance to receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Reno Car Accident Attorneys at Battle Born Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident in Reno and you need legal assistance, contact our car accident attorneys at Battle Born Injury Lawyers and schedule a free consultation with our legal team.