One of the most difficult processes involved in a personal injury case settlement or lawsuit if a case goes to court is arriving at the proper amount of financial compensation for the claimed injuries. Physical injury is not the only issue in severe injury claims either when the ongoing problems associated with the injury will also create extensive mental anguish. These two elements of the claim are often evaluated separately with one amount set for the physical injury and additional damages allowed for the mental anguish from dealing with the injury for the remainder of the victim’s life. This is especially true for those who are left permanently disabled and will be on a fixed income even after the injury heals as much as possible. Both the injury diagnosis and the long-term prognosis from medical professionals will have a significant impact on what is considered in the calculation process. However, other factors such as the age of the victim and their earning power can also be part of the calculation as well based on the severity of the injury.
Personal Injury Cases
The total number of injuries a claimant receives can be as important as the severity when pain and suffering are assessed. Those who are left totally paralyzed will also have an increased calculation factor regardless of whether the personal injury attorney can convince the respondent party to calculate according to the multiplier method or the per diem method. Those who are left totally disabled also commonly suffer broken bones and spinal injuries, which means there will be compounded pain issues in many cases. Rehabilitation time and difficulty can be an increasing factor as well when the total impact of the injury is evaluated. Even in moderate injury cases when the injured party is able to return to somewhat normal activity, this can be a significant amount of compensation that could increase either the daily allowance or the multiplier that each party agrees upon.
Wrongful Death Cases
Pain and suffering are also an issue in wrongful death cases, but it is not necessarily termed as such. The legal term used in a wrongful death claim is “loss of consortium” for spouses and loss of a parental relationship for children, along with loss of support before reaching adulthood. Wrongful death is actually the most serious form of personal injury case, and in the state of North Carolina proceeds are considered property of the family and not the estate. The primary concern aside from lost support is the mental anguish associated with losing a parent and a spouse in an immediate family setting. This means that the per diem calculation method may work best when all factors are considered as opposed to the multiplier method. Wrongful death cases are always filed as formal litigation, so this will not necessarily be negotiated before the case is presented by a trial attorney unless the respondent wants to settle and avoid going to court with the possibility of punitive damages being awarded from a sympathetic jury.
Mental anguish is another issue that is evaluated along with the physical pain and level of debilitating conditions that the injured plaintiff will face going forward in life. Mental anguish can actually be more difficult to quantify than physical injury and pain because it is elusive and often difficult to prove with respect to the level of suffering incurred. Some injuries worsen significantly over time, which will result in even more mental pain when the condition worsens for the claimant. The longevity of the injury can also impact the long-term effect that mental anguish will have, and it is vital to include this eventuality when the case is being settled because almost all respondents will want a full release from any medical responsibility after the compensation is paid. This is why a comprehensive personal injury attorney will focus on mental stress as much as physical injury when negotiating the specifics of the claim.
Primary Calculation Methods
There are two primary calculation methods that are used when determining the commensurate amount of compensation for plaintiffs in either a personal injury claim or a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are typically filed as formal litigation where the court will determine the appropriate amount of compensation, but respondents may opt to settle before a case goes to a full trial. The per diem method is used by establishing a specific dollar amount for each day and then calculating it out with respect to the amount of pain and suffering of the particular individual who will receive the benefit. The multiplier method is typically used in personal injury cases with the standard being in a range between 1.5 times the total physical injury recovery to a maximum of 5 in most situations. The most common number for a moderate injury case is 3, but more serious cases can be calculated at 5 times the specified damages amount.
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The real truth about how a personal injury attorney or trial attorney arrives at a proper amount of compensation is actually better referenced by what a sympathetic jury may award the plaintiff. This is often assessed according to the material facts of the case and the potential for a punitive damage award when there are significant assets or available insurance to meet the award. Circumstances can impact a pain and suffering settlement just like the seriousness of injury and amount of mental anguish. This is also why it is essential to have an experienced law firm representing the case for a maximum general damages award.