Posted in Catastrophic Injury on January 12, 2023
Catastrophic injuries are those that significantly affect a person’s quality of life. Generally, these types of injuries are defined as severe and usually lead to some sort of permanent disability, scarring, or disfigurement. Due to the nature of the severity of catastrophic injuries, these claims are typically worth more than traditional personal injury cases. Here, we want to discuss the factors that go into determining the value of a catastrophic injury claim in California.
Examining Economic Damages (Special Damages)
One of the first aspects examined in a personal injury case will be the economic damages, often referred to as special damages. These are the expenses that you will be well aware of in the aftermath of a catastrophic injury occurring. Economic damages are comprised of all of the calculable expenses related to the incident and the aftermath. By gathering receipts, bills, invoices, and estimates, an catastrophic injury attorney in Long Beach can help adequately calculate the following types of damages:
- Hospital and emergency medical bills
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation expenses
- Surgical procedure expenses
- Lost wages or lost earning potential
- Various household out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage expenses
- The cost of modifying a home or vehicle for mobility
Totaling up all the economic expenses is usually straightforward, but there will be some complications for catastrophic injuries where the total long-term costs may not be known right away. This could result in having a medical expert testify as to the victim’s long-term prospects and needs.
Examining Non-Economic Damages (General Damages)
Non-economic damages, often referred to as general damages, are just as essential when it comes to recovering compensation for a catastrophic injury victim in California. However, these types of losses are more difficult to calculate because there are no receipts, bills, or invoices directly attached to them. These are what we consider more immeasurable and unseen damages, and include the victims:
- Physical pain and suffering damages
- Psychological and emotional pain and suffering damages
- Loss of quality of life caused by an incapacity
- Loss of consortium for a spouse and family members
Calculating non-economic damages after a catastrophic injury claim is typically done by using a multiplier method, where an attorney will gather up all of the economic expenses mentioned above and then multiply them by a set number. For example, let us suppose that a person sustains a spinal cord injury and incurs $2 million worth of economic damages. An attorney could use a multiplier of “three” to reach a non-economic damage total of $6 million.
Who Determines How Much a Claim is Worth?
Depending on how a case is settled, there may be various parties that work to attach value to a catastrophic injury claim. Often, this includes insurance carriers, but if the case goes to a civil trial, the jury will decide. However, there are various steps taken along the way by all parties involved to help influence the total value estimate. For example, a lawyer for a catastrophic injury victim will enlist assistance from trusted medical and economic experts who can provide testimony to all parties involved as to the extent of the damages.
There are several factors that will influence the total value of a claim, including the type of injury, the severity of the injury, and the total level of disability a person experiences. A person’s ability to work after the injury (or their lack of ability to work) will also be taken into account. Other factors, such as shared fault, will be examined throughout the course of the case to help determine total settlement values.