Is There a Personal Injury Calculator in Virginia?
Virginia personal injury attorneys are often asked by clients ‘how much is my case worth?’ It’s not a simple question to answer. Although some damages can be worked out by tried and tested formulas, others are not so easily quantified. There is no such thing as a personal injury calculator in Virginia.
There are two main elements of a personal injury claim, economic damages and pain and suffering damages. A personal injury claim involves adding up past medical bills, future medical bills, lost wages and wages likely to be lost in the future. A pain and suffering element is added to the equation. The amount awarded for pain and suffering may exceed the amount given from the other losses. Virginia courts may also add punitive damages in some cases such as the worst instances of drunk driving. This is additional money intended to punish the at-fault driver.
Although attorneys use a formula for assessing past and future medical bills and past and future lost wages, pain and suffering damages typically make up the largest chunk of a personal injury payout. Insurance companies have programs that give pain and suffering a figure. However, there is no guarantee a jury will abide by these formulas if a case makes it to a trial.
Two Key Elements in Calculating Personal Injury Damages in Virginia
When you talk to a lawyer about your personal injury case, he or she won’t be able to give you an exact figure for what your case is worth. However, two key elements indicate the approximate value of a case. They are:
1 The extent of injuries
An accident victim who suffers a permanent brain injury due to the fault of another driver will be entitled to more money than a claimant who suffers a whiplash injury that lasts a week. Both past and further medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering are higher in the first case and the victim may have high ongoing care needs.
2 Available insurance coverage
If you are hit by a driver carrying minimum insurance coverage, less money is available for a claim. However, multiple insurance policies are available in some cases. A Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer seeks to maximize as many policies as possible.
Factors Used in Virginia Personal Injury Calculations
Half a dozen key elements are added together to work out a damages claim in personal injury cases. They are.
1 Lost earnings
An attorney can easily calculate the sum of lost income related to your accident. If you used benefits like time-off entitlement because you were injured, a dollar sum will be factored in.
2 Future lost income
A projected calculation of how much money you stand to lose in the future due to injuries from an accident is added to the equation. Future lost income is more relevant after a serious injury.
3 Medical Expenses
Medical bills are totaled up after an injury. Avoid trying to settle with an insurance company while you are still being treated for an injury. You face losing money.
4 Future medical expenses
If you are likely to have recurring medical issues from your injury that require treatment, your Virginia Beach accident injury lawyer will factor in the likely cost of future medical expenses.
5 Property Damage
Property damage may be factored in after a car, truck or motorcycle accident. After an auto accident, you are entitled to be made whole for any damage to your personal property.
6 Pain and Suffering and a Multiplier
In calculating pain and suffering, insurance companies often work with multipliers of up to five times your medical costs. After serious injuries, the multiplier may be even higher.
Many of the large insurance companies use an automated formula to calculate pain and suffering. The Colossus computer program, for example, is used by companies including Allstate to estimate total injury claims. These are plug-in systems with little regard for the claimant’s personal circumstances. Programs like Colossus are intended to drive down payouts and protect the insurance company’s bottom line. Insurance companies often multiply the total of medical bills by a number between one-and-a-half and five to calculate pain and suffering.
Of course, a computer program is not up to the task of accurately measuring pain and suffering. Programs like this fail to take into consideration factors like emotional trauma from a car accident.
Factors to Consider in the Absence of a Virginia Personal Injury Calculator
Unlike the insurance company, a Virginia personal injury lawyer will carefully asses your needs and consider the human factor before working on a reasonable offer in negotiations with the insurance company or taking the case to court. Pertinent factors include:
- The nature of your injuries;
- The duration of pain and suffering;
- How permanent the injury is likely to be;
- How this ordeal impacted your quality of life.
- How much emotional pain and suffering the accident caused.
When is a Higher Multiplier Needed in Virginia Personal Injury Cases?
In its pain and suffering calculation, the insurance company will likely use a multiplier one-and-a-half to five times your medical costs.
Certain factors may justify a higher multiplier. They include:
- Severe pain associated with your injuries;
- Injuries that cannot ever be successfully remedied;
- A prolonged recovery time and ongoing pain;
- Suffering permanent consequences like disability, scars, disfigurement, psychological issues or concentration and memory problems associated with a brain injury.
- Doctors warning your condition is likely to worsen in the future due to the accident.
The “Per Diem” Method of Calculating Pain and Suffering
There is a second method of calculating pain and suffering. It’s known as the “per diem” method which means “per day” in Latin. The injured party from a Virginia auto accident or a slip and fall receives a specified dollar amount for every day they live with pain related to the accident under this method.
The “per diem” method is not particularly useful for long-term injuries. One issue is justifying the daily rate used in calculations. One way to calculate the daily rate as being “reasonable” is to use actual, daily earnings. The daily pain caused by injuries is equated to the effort of going to work each day.
What To Do In The Absence of a Personal Injury Calculator in Virginia
Personal injury calculations are notoriously complex. Although the insurance company may tell you it’s the case, there is no simple plug and play method of assessing overall damages after an accident. You may leave money on the table if you try to fight the insurance company alone. Our experienced Virginia Beach injury team will do the difficult calculations and fight to get you what you deserve. Call us today at (757) 455-0077. No information in this blog is intended to constitute legal advice. Schedule a free consultation with an attorney for help.