At some point, this question is asked by every personal injury plaintiff. It is understandable that a plaintiff wants to know how much they may be able to recover in their case. They likely have lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses and have suffered permanent physical injuries at the hands of another. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Rather, each case involves a detailed analysis of a number of factors that determine the value of the claim. In this regard, information is key. The more information that is available, the easier it is to calculate the value of a personal injury case.
These damages are typically the easiest to calculate. Many are clearly identifiable, such as medical bills and income lost as a result of the inability to work. Other economic damages can be calculated through expert opinion, such as the cost for future medical treatment and future lost wages and diminished earning capacity. The following is a list of some common economic damages in personal injury cases:
- Medical costs for treatment related to the injury
- Expenses for rehabilitation and therapy
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages – past, current and future
- Reimbursement for property damage or loss
Non-economic damages are somewhat more subjective than economic damages. Some of the common types of non-economic damages in personal injury cases include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment or quality of life – the ability to enjoy social and family gatherings, educational pursuits, hobbies and physical activities
- Psychological/emotional distress
- Permanent disfigurement and disability
- Punitive damages – New Jersey limits these damages to no more than $350K or 5 times compensatory damages.
Insurance companies, lawyers, and other professionals use various methods and approaches to arrive at a value for non-economic damages. Insurance companies often value these damages lower than plaintiffs' lawyers, and often use complex algorithms and mathematical formulas to quantify these damages. Your lawyer should be knowledgeable of the techniques these companies use for personal injury claim valuation and work aggressively to recover the maximum value for your claim.
Liability also plays a role in determining the value of a personal injury claim. In NJ, the comparative negligence of a plaintiff may be assessed by a jury under certain circumstances, and a damage award reduced by the plaintiff's percentage share of fault for the accident. Where a jury finds a plaintiff's comparative negligence to be 51% or more, the plaintiff receives nothing under NJ's "modified" comparative negligence scheme.
At the Reinartz Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers are experienced in personal injury claim valuation. We provide aggressive and compassionate legal representation to our clients. Please contact us today to discuss your case or to schedule a free consultation.