Insurance companies use formulas to determine how much compensation you are legally entitled to when filing a claim. As we shall see, however, these formulas are subjective. By knowing how insurance companies calculate the amount of damages you are owed, we can readily ascertain whether or not they’re offering you a fair settlement during negotiations. There are certain economic expenses for which insurance companies are legally required to compensate victims.
- Hospital bills and other costs related to medical care
- Cost of income lost due to an injurious accident
- Property damage
Additionally, insurance companies must also pay victims damages for certain non-economic costs such as:
- Emotional costs such as pain and suffering or anxiety resulting from an accident
- Permanent disfigurement or physical disability caused by an accident
- Losses related to missed social, educational, or family experiences such as recreation, job training, or other special events
- Future wage loss, medical care and pain and suffering that will occur as a result of your injuries
Obviously, economic costs are much easier to calculate than are non-economic costs. The way that insurance companies determine the total damages to which a victim is entitled is by using a computer program to determine how much to give for pain and suffering based in part on the sum total of medical expenses associated with an accident (also known as “medical special damages” or “specials”). The initial offer from insurance companies is seldom the final offer.
An experienced personal injury attorney determines how much a case is worth based on many factors including lost income, how long you suffered from your injuries and whether they are permanent, how your injuries will impact your future earning capacity, will you continue to have pain in the future, will you need future medical care for your injuries, will you need to be retrained for a different type of work because of your injuries, the intensity of your pain plus other facts and circumstances related to your particular case. In short determining the value of your case takes a detailed analysis by an experienced personal injury attorney.
This sum, however, does not necessarily reflect how much the insurance company is legally required to pay out if they believe that a your actions also contributed to the likelihood of an accident. For example, if you tripped on a broken sidewalk and broke your arm while you were intoxicated, the property owner’s insurance company may argue that you are not entitled to the full amount of damages because of your partial responsibility for the accident. The more responsible an insurance company believes you to be for your situation, the less they will be willing to offer you in compensation, regardless of how severe your injuries may be. Our experience in these matters offers valuable insight into how these kinds of claims apply to your case specifically.