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Personal Injury Definition
An injury not to property, but to your body, mind or emotions. For example, if you slip and fall on a banana peel in the grocery store, personal injury covers any actual physical harm (broken leg and bruises) you suffered in the fall as well as the humiliation of falling in public, but not the harm of shattering your watch. This can include workers compensation cases, as well as disability cases involving workers comp.
How Much Is Your Personal Injury Claim Worth?
It can be tough to set a dollar amount on injuries you suffer in a Los Angeles accident. There are so many things to consider — doctor’s bills, time lost from work, medical costs for ongoing injuries, pain and suffering, and so on. Insurance companies take all of them into account when deciding how much to offer — and ultimately pay out — for a Los Angeles personal injury claim.
What Your Insurance Company Must Cover
To determine what your claim is worth, you must first know the things for which you are entitled to compensation. Usually, a person who is liable for an accident — and therefore his or her liability insurance company — must pay an injured person for:
- medical care and related expenses
- income lost because of the accident, because of time spent unable to work or undergoing treatment for injuries
- permanent physical disability or disfigurement
- loss of family, social, and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression, or strains on family relationships — for example, the inability to take care of children, anxiety over the effects of an accident on an unborn child, or interference with sexual relations, and damaged property.
Demystifying the Damages Formula
When determining compensation, it is usually simple to add up the money spent and money lost, but there is no precise way to put a dollar figure on pain and suffering or on missed experiences and lost opportunities. That’s where an insurance company’s damages formula comes in.
At the beginning of claim negotiations, an insurance adjuster adds up the total medical expenses related to the injury. These expenses are referred to as “medical special damages” or simply “specials.” That’s the base figure the adjuster uses to figure out how much to pay the injured person for pain, suffering, and other non-monetary losses, which are called “general” damages.
The adjuster multiplies the amount of special damages by 1.5 or 2 when the injuries are relatively minor, or up to 5 when the injuries are particularly painful, serious, or long-lasting. (The multiplier may be as great as 10 in extreme cases.) The adjuster then adds on any income lost as a result of the injuries.
That’s all there is to the formula. However, this figure — medical specials multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5, then added to lost income — is not a final compensation amount buy only the number from which negotiations begin. If you have questions about your compensation amount, it is important to speak with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney who has experience in this area.
Determining the Correct Multiplier
Several things determine the multiplier — the number usually between 1.5 and 5 — that the insurance adjuster applies to the special damages in your claim. Here are some general guidelines.
- The more painful the injury, the higher the multiplier.
- The more invasive and long-lasting the medical treatment, the higher the multiplier.
- The more obvious the medical evidence of the injury, the higher the multiplier.
- The longer the recovery period, the higher the multiplier.
- The more serious and visible any permanent effect of the injury, the higher the multiplier.
- The more of your treatment you receive from a physician or at a hospital — or opposed to physical theropy, chiropractic, and other non-MD treatment — the higher the multiplier.