How to estimate a personal injury settlement—putting a price tag on pain

Personal Injury

How do you put a price tag on personal loss, whether it’s a limb or the ability to earn a living? Perhaps the injury has caused temporary impairment or worse, the damage is permanent. What about lost wages, mental anguish, and enduring physical pain?

Many factors determine a personal injury settlement amount. The injured party has suffered a physical, emotional and financial loss through no fault of their own. The goal is to reach a fair estimate of the financial compensation figure which would restore the injured party to the pre-injury status. The word compensate comes from the Latin “to counterbalance”.

How much money can a plaintiff expect to receive for a specific injury, and how is that amount calculated? How can a plaintiff be confident the amount is fair and reasonable? The “Personal Injury Calculation” or formula can estimate the approximate amount for reasonable settlement.

First, is there a compensable injury?

Before calculating a personal injury settlement, the claim must meet specific legal criteria. Not every personal injury case qualifies for a lawsuit. For a case to be actionable, there must generally be a permanent injury, which results in long-lasting physical and/or emotional pain.
However, two issues matter in every tort claim regardless of the circumstances: “Liability” and “Damages.” Once it has been established that damages indeed exist and that the defendant is liable for the damages that the plaintiff has sustained, the nature and extent of the damages determine the monetary settlement amount.

What constitutes a personal injury?

Negligence laws in Florida exist to ensure that when someone acts negligently and causes harm (or death) to another person, the responsible individual or entity is held accountable. An unlimited number of possible scenarios, circumstances, and situations can cause or contribute to a personal injury. That’s why personal injuries are commonly grouped into the following major categories: personal injury, medical malpractice, vehicle accidents and other types of accidents. You can find a more detailed list of categories and associated injuries here.

Common personal injury cases

Personal injury accidents can happen to anybody at any time, anywhere, and in many ways. Common types of personal injury cases include:

  • Burns – fires, explosions, chemicals, workplace accidents
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents – single-car accidents, multiple-car accidents
  • Workplace Injuries – at work slip and fall, struck by object, falls on the same level, fall from another level, caught in or compressed by machinery
  • Brain Injuries – traumatic brain injuries to skull fractures and frequent concussions
  • Spinal Cord Injuries – severe to minor spinal cord injuries that leave victims partially disabled or are otherwise life-altering
  • School Injuries – children injured at school by the staff or negligence of staff
  • Sports Injuries – includes school, extra-curricular, and professional sports injuries

Judgement vs. settlement

The plaintiff and his personal injury attorney often are offered a “settlement” amount. The defendant is offering a sum to secure that the plaintiff will not proceed on the civil court case. Settlement amounts are typically less than a court judgment, exonerate the defendant, but are guaranteed versus a court determination which could yield no compensation.

What constitutes a compensable sum?

These are the common variables used to calculate monetary personal injury compensation:

  • Medical Expenses — the total amount of money the plaintiff has spent on medical bills
  • Estimated Future Medical Expenses — ongoing medical treatment for injuries including: pain management, medications, physical and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment, and miscellaneous treatment and supplies
  • Property Damage — typically applicable in a car accident case
  • Lost Earnings — missed work from injuries and estimated future lost income from ongoing treatment or longer-term inability to return to work
  • General Damages — emotional and physical pain and suffering due to the injury

Finally, the more severe, enduring, and painful the injury, the higher the settlement compensation amount. All these factors combined should provide a reasonable approximation of what the total settlement amount will be.

Partnering with an experienced personal injury lawyer

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless the plaintiff is awarded a settlement. If you need assistance with your personal injury case, we encourage you to contact our experienced personal injury attorneys about your situation for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation. Call Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A. at 904-249-9030 or email us. You can learn more about personal injury claims on our Personal Injury FAQs web page.