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A practical guide to calculating accident compensation

Many factors impact the value of a personal injury claim, including the extent of a person’s injuries, the costs associated with treating those injuries, and the amount of insurance coverage available. Personal injury attorneys can review the details of your claim and provide an estimate for your case’s value.

What types of accidents let you claim compensation?

If you were injured in a slip and fall, at work, in a car accident or during some other incident, you may have suffered financially, physically and mentally.

Under tort law, the term “personal injury” typically refers to a civil claim resulting from the wrongful conduct of a negligent party that causes harm to another person, including physical or emotional injury. Common accident claims that a personal injury attorney may handle include:

As the injured party, you must prove the opposing party was negligent by showing that he/she breached a duty of care. You must also give evidence that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries and that you suffered losses due to these injuries.

Due to the complex nature of personal injury claims and the requirements needed to succeed in your lawsuit, you should always hire a personal injury attorney to help you file and litigate your claim.

Who can claim accident compensation?

If you suffered an injury due to the careless or negligent behavior of another person, you may have a viable claim to bring against the negligent party with the help of a qualified attorney.

If your injuries occurred due to someone else’s negligence, he/she could be liable for the losses you suffered in the accident. A personal injury attorney will work to help you recover financial compensation for your pain and suffering.

What factors impact compensation calculations?

A common question when hiring a personal injury lawyer is “how much is my case worth?” To estimate compensation, we look at the following factors:

  • Insurance companies generally value injury settlements using formulas that take into account the injuries, the amount of medical treatment needed, and how much was awarded in previous similar cases.
  • Every personal injury case is different, but certain factors and laws will likely impact the value of any injury settlement claim.
  • The value of a personal injury claim depends on the amount of damages. Generally, the party held legally responsible for the accident will pay damages to the injured plaintiff to compensate for the losses he/she suffered.
  • From a financial standpoint, damages are given a dollar value based on how much the accident impacted the plaintiff. The final amount of damages in a lawsuit may involve an agreed amount in a settlement or be determined by a jury at trial.

Economic and non-economic damages

Economic damages, or special damages, include current and future financial losses. These costs generally involve specific amounts expressed in numbers. For this reason, ascertaining a value for these types of losses may be easier to calculate.

Economic damages may include:

  • Medical bills to treat the injury
  • Property damage or loss
  • Lost wages for time off
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses

Non-economic damages, or general damages, may be more difficult to calculate because they represent the physical and mental cost resulting from the accident or injury. This may include the plaintiff’s physical discomfort, or pain and suffering.

Non-economic damages take into account:

  • Emotional distress / mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of consortium

How does fault affect the value of a claim?

Depending on the state, the level of fault that an injured party shares for causing an accident may reduce the amount awarded by a jury if the case goes to trial. As a result, a plaintiff who shares fault for an accident may find the value of his/her claim at least partially reduced.

If your own carelessness or negligence contributed to the accident, the law in your state may require a reduction in the compensation damages you receive. Typically, the amount reduced is based on the state where the accident occurred.

State laws for personal injury claims

In some states, damages are reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. In other states, however, any fault on the part of the plaintiff could cause compensation to be reduced entirely.

When it comes to an injured person’s role in causing an accident, states generally follow one of three basic types of negligence rules:

  • Pure comparative negligence
  • Modified comparative negligence
  • Contributory negligence

Pure comparative negligence

For states that use pure comparative negligence, damages in a personal injury lawsuit are directly reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault for the accident. For example, if you’re determined to be 30% at fault, the amount of your damages would be directly reduced by 30%.

Modified comparative negligence

The standard for modified comparative negligence follows the same logic as pure comparative negligence, but only to a certain extent. States that use this method to determine fault-based damages include Colorado and Minnesota.

Under this rule, the amount of damages is still reduced by the percentage of fault. However, if it’s determined that your percentage of fault equals or exceeds 50% (different states have varying limits), you will no longer be able to collect damages.

As a result, injured plaintiffs in states that use modified comparative negligence and share 50% or more of the fault may see their claim reduced in value.

However, this doesn’t mean that any claim is worthless simply because the plaintiff is at least partially at fault. Get in touch with a Trujillo & Sanchez personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and possible compensation for your case.

Contributory negligence

Among these three standards, contributory negligence is considered the most strict when it comes to reducing damages for shared fault.

Contributory negligence prevents an injured plaintiff from collecting any damages if he/she is found to be at fault for the accident, regardless of the percentage.

This means that if the plaintiff shares even 1% of fault, the value of the claim could be drastically reduced in states that use this rule. The best way to find out if your claim will be impacted is to seek legal advice from a Trujillo & Sanchez personal injury attorney.

Key considerations for claiming accident compensation

Most civil cases in the United States involve personal injury. So, you may be wondering how to improve your chances of winning your case. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  1. Be transparent with your lawyer.
  2. Only discuss the details of the case with your attorney.
  3. Don’t talk to insurance providers.
  4. Try to get a medical professional on your side.
  5. Document every piece of evidence in your case.
  6. Work as a team with your attorney.
  7. Trust the process.
  8. Choose the right lawyer for you.


At the Law Offices of Trujillo & Sanchez, our personal injury lawyers can help you with your claim. Call (972) 529-3476 for a free consultation today.

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