After you suffer serious injuries in an accident, determining how much compensation you deserve may rise abruptly to the top of your priority list. How do you know what your personal injury claim is really worth? If you get a settlement offer, how can you tell if it’s a fair offer, or one that only reflects the needs of the insurance company instead of your needs as the injured party?
Take a look at our personal injury calculator to get a better idea of how much compensation you may actually deserve for a personal injury claim.
Step One: Calculate Your Medical Costs
Your medical costs are among the biggest financial losses you will face following any type of severe injury. Medical treatment may begin with a trip to the emergency room immediately after the accident and continue as you move forward toward recovery. Sometimes, you may face a wide range of medical bills, including hospitalization, long-term care, and even physical or occupational therapy following your accident.
To accurately track your medical expenses following a serious accident, you may want to start by creating a single file just for your medical bills. Your insurance explanation of benefits, if you use your health insurance, can also help you keep track of some of those medical expenses. You may receive multiple bills for a single procedure, particularly if you require surgery to treat your injuries, so you may need to track your ongoing medical expenses carefully to ensure that you can include all of them as part of your claim.
Make sure you include expenses for:
- Emergency medical care (including the emergency room and any needed ambulance transport)
- Surgeries and procedures to help treat your injuries
- Your stay in a long-term care facility, if needed
- Durable medical equipment needed to aid in your recovery
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Follow-up appointments with your doctor, including any follow-up procedures
You may also be able to include the cost of any psychological therapy or medications used to help you recover mentally and emotionally following your injuries.
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Step Two: Anticipate Future Medical Expenses
Some medical expenses may not appear immediately after your accident, but you know that you will need to account for them at some point down the road. Suppose, for example, that you suffer injuries in a fall. You may know that you will need a knee replacement within the next two to three years as a result of your fall injuries, but you do not need the knee replacement immediately.
Your lawyer can help you estimate the future costs associated with your medical bills so that you can better calculate your future anticipated medical needs.
Step Three: Add Up the Cost of Lost Time at Work
Missing time at work can pose immense financial difficulty following any type of serious injury. Employers may respond to serious injuries, whether sustained at work or out of work, according to their internal policies. While some employers may allow you to return to work as soon as possible, others may feel that you reflect a safety hazard or legal challenge, particularly if your injuries prevent you from accomplishing your job duties completely.
You can include lost wages as part of your personal injury claim. Talk to your lawyer about:
- Your average salary and hours at work
- What income you have lost as a direct result of your accident
- What policies your employer has in place for sick leave, including whether you qualify for temporary disability
- How many hours you had to miss at work (or, if relevant, how many weeks you had to miss at work since that can serve as an effective calculation)
- Whether you had to miss time at work after returning for appointments, procedures, and follow-ups
- If you had to go to part-time hours or otherwise reduce your time at work as a direct result of your injuries
- Whether you had to use up sick time or vacation time to account for some of the missing time at work
Your attorney can help you calculate the full value of your missing time at work and how to include it as part of your claim.
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Step Four: Consider Other Direct Financial Losses
Some accidents, like car accidents, may include significant property damage – including significant, expensive property damage to important items. Did you damage your cell phone in the accident? Your laptop or tablet?
Did a car accident lead to severe vehicle damage–which is common in cases that resulted in serious injury? Talk to your lawyer about the property damage you may have sustained in the accident and how to include it as part of your claim.
Step Five: Add in Pain and Suffering
Many personal injury claims, in addition to compensation for the immediate financial losses you sustained as part of the accident, may also include compensation for the non-financial losses caused by a serious accident: the suffering you have faced. Pain and suffering damages are usually calculated in one of two ways.
- An attorney will assign a “per diem” rate, or per day rate, to each day between the accident and when you are considered to have made the maximum possible recovery.
- An attorney will calculate pain and suffering based on a percentage of the medical bills and other financial losses you faced due to the accident.
How much compensation you can recover for pain and suffering may depend, like much of the rest of the compensation related to the accident, on the severity of your injuries and what losses you faced because of the accident. An attorney can help break down the suffering you faced and how it may apply to your personal injury claim.
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