New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
How to Estimate the Value of a Back Injury Claim in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Posted on Oct 29, 2014 in Car Accidents
If you file a back injury claim, you may be able to obtain some compensation from the business or the person that is legally
responsible for causing your injuries. The settlement value of any claim is determined on a case-by-case basis, since back injuries range from sprains and strains to paralysis and spinal cord injuries. Here are a few general guidelines which can help you assess the settlement value of a back injury claim in a personal injury lawsuit.
Economic and non-economic on a case-by-case basis are part of the typical compensation for a back injury claim. These are usually grouped together as a single award of “compensatory damages”.
Economic Compensatory Damages
Economic compensatory damages, also known as special damages, refer to actual financial losses that occur as a result of money spent, or money one is not able to earn, due to the injury sustained. The types of potential economic compensatory damages in a back injury claim are:
- Past and future medical bills: These vary on the basis of the severity of your injuries. The cost of future medical care can even be millions of dollars in certain cases involving serious spine injuries and paralysis.
- Lost income and wages: A person is entitled to compensation for lost income and any future reduction in their expected ability to earn. The salary history of the person is examined, as well as the amount of work they missed, including vacation time or sick time, to determine lost wage damages. A complex formula which assesses a person’s projected earnings and the impact the back injuries will have on their ability to do that kind of work is used to calculate lost future income.
Non-Economic Compensatory Damages
Non-economic compensatory damages, also referred to as general damages, offer compensation for any non-monetary losses that are associated with the back injuries sustained. These losses aren’t easy to put a value on. Non-economic compensatory damages include:
- Pain and suffering: Usually to assess pain and suffering damages, a pain multiplier is used. This multiplies your economic compensatory damages such as lost wages and medical expenses by a set number (between 1.5 and 5). In some cases, where the injury is more serious, the multiplier may be significantly higher such as 10.
- Emotional distress: Depending on state law, emotional distress damages may be assessed separately or are compensated for as part of pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium: If the back injuries sustained are serious enough to cause partial or total paralysis, for instance, and the family members of the victim are deprived of enjoying a normal relationship and companionship with the victim, it could result in loss of consortium damages being awarded. In case of a spouse, this could include the loss of a marital sexual relationship. Some states include these damages as part of a back injury victim’s compensatory damages award, and others require family members to sue separately for loss of consortium damages.