If you are involved in an injury accident, you may wonder how personal injury damages are calculated and what compensation you can expect for your losses. Typically, the at fault party’s liability insurance company will pay the injured person for their medical care and lost income, referred to as special damages. However, an injured party may also receive compensation for pain and suffering, permanent physical disability or disfigurement, loss of family, social, or educational experiences and emotional suffering referred to as general damages. Of course it is far easier to determine what someone has spent on medical expenses and the time they had to take off from work, but it is far more difficult to put a dollar figure on missed experiences or pain and suffering resulting from an injury. That is where the damages formula comes into play.
To determine how much to compensate you for general damages, those that are non-monetary in other words, an insurance adjuster will typically begin by adding up your total medical expenses and multiplying this figure by roughly one and one half to five to arrive at a figure for general damages. The more painful, serious or long-lasting the injury or effect thereof, the higher the multiplier. They will then come to the negotiation table with a settlement in mind that includes a general damage figure and lost wages.
It all seems pretty straight forward until you consider that the adjuster is not obliged to tell you whether they are using a formula or give you any specific details regarding the formula when they are. For the most part you will be in the dark as to how the adjuster arrived at the figure for damages and where you stand on the spectrum of compensation. However, it is helpful to understand that the figure is likely fluid and that an adjuster will almost always start on the lower end leaving room for negotiation.
This is where an experienced personal injury attorney is particularly helpful. An attorney who specializes in injury claims can often negotiate a far more favorable settlement simply because the adjuster is confronted with someone who understands the underlying process. Many injured parties receive far more in damages when they hire an attorney than they will on their own. If you or a family member is injured in an accident, contact the personal injury and workers’ compensation law offices of John T. Hemminger for immediate assistance today at 515-283-2116.
In the first 72 hours following an injury accident it is important to document details regarding the accident and continue to make notes to increase your chances of receiving all the compensation you are entitled to. It is not uncommon to settle an injury claim months or years after the event, so it is crucial that you keep detailed notes regarding the events surrounding your accident including the accident itself, the injuries you sustained, and economic or other losses you suffered as a result.
Begin by noting where you were going and what you were doing on the day of the accident. Include the date, time, weather, and who you were with, making sure to record every detail you can recall about what you saw, heard and felt immediately before, during and right after the accident. Make a particularly detailed account of impacts to your body perceived at the time of the accident – slams, jolts, or other and any sensations felt at the time of the accident. If there were friends or witnesses present who did or said anything in response to the accident, jot those details down too.
It is always best to seek medical attention immediately following an accident even if you think that your injury is minor. If you decide to make a claim, your medical records will serve as evidence that your injuries were caused by the accident. Be sure to include details regarding your visit to the doctor in your notes: who, when, where, what was said and what tests were taken and any other information regarding the appointment.
Sometimes the extent of your injuries are not immediately apparent, but show up hours, days or weeks later. In the days immediately following your accident, start taking notes detailing the pain or discomfort caused by your injuries. If you suffered a whiplash injury in a car accident for example, you may have a stiff neck, headaches, trouble sleeping, anxiety and more. Be sure to jot down any and all problems you experience so you can demand compensation for injuries that may not show, but are nevertheless debilitating. On subsequent visits to your medical care provider, be sure to share details you have recorded for entry into your medical record.
Documenting Your Injury Accident
Medical bills and pain and suffering are just part of the damages you may receive. There are also economic losses and family, social, educational or other losses. As you document your experience, be sure to write down times you have missed work, job opportunities you have not been able to participate in, missed classes, family or social gatherings you could not attend or other activities you would have benefited from or enjoyed but were unable to because of the accident.
Most memories grow fuzzier with the passage of time, even those that are traumatic such as being injured in an accident. Because compensation for your injuries often hinges on your ability to provide a detailed account of your experience along with any tangible evidence you can provide, getting it down in writing is key. Having notes to remind you of what happened before, during and after your accident will make it far easier and accurate to recall important details that may help your case.
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident, contact Des Moines personal injury attorney John T. Hemminger for immediate assistance at 515-283-2116.
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