If you have been injured in an accident, proving your case for trial or settlement is one thing. The other is to prove how much you have lost because of the accident so you can receive compensation for it, which is where our personal injury calculator and dedicated team of personal injury lawyers come in.
You have two years from the time of your accident resulting in personal injury to take action, so call us at (480) 498-8998 in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, or anywhere else in Maricopa County to set up a no-cost consultation with an experienced lawyer to receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
The legal term to measure your compensation is “money damages.” Here we cover how under Arizona law you calculate what you are owed as money damages.
Each personal injury case settlement value depends on its own facts when it comes to calculating damages liability. With that being said, though, there are some ways that your Arizona personal injury lawyer can help you understand the several ways you can claim money damages for harm you suffer from an accident, and how to make the most of them to maximize what you receive in settlement or from a damages award.
Before we discuss specific types of injuries and what they may be worth in a settlement or a personal injury judgment award, we will review the general kinds of harm that you can seek compensation for.
Money damages awards for personal injury have their basis in one of three broad areas: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
The purpose of economic damages, which are also known as special damages, is to compensate you for harm and losses that you can calculate a dollar value for. Examples of economic damages include the cost to repair or replace damaged property, the value of lost income and wages if your injuries prevent you from working, and the cost of medical treatment for injuries that result from an accident.
Property damage costs are relatively easy to calculate. One good way to get an idea of how much they might be worth is to take your damaged property, like your car, to a repair location that can give you a repair estimate or tell you if replacement is more economical. If you have time, get more than one estimate.
Calculating lost wages as money damages involves determining how long you will be kept from work by your injuries.
A simple calculation is: Your hourly wage or salary at the time of the accident multiplied by the number of lost work hours or salary intervals. For example, if you were making $50 per hour at your work and your injuries caused you to miss 12 weeks at 40 hours per week, your calculation would be:
40 Hours x 12 weeks = 480 hours x $50 per hour = $2,400
Note that if you receive any disability payments, either through an insurance company or your Social Security, as a result of your accident-related injury, then in the final settlement or judgment award these disability payments might be deducted from your lost wages damages.
Medical bills should include all costs related to making you whole again. In a car accident case, this can include medical records of doctor visits, diagnostic expenses for things like MRI scans or x-rays, surgeries or other medical expenses, vocational or occupational rehabilitation costs, specialist care, prescribed medication costs, and costs for necessary medical devices like crutches.
If you will need long-term follow-up medical care, this might require you to extrapolate some future medical expenses into the future, based on the expected duration of the care to be provided.
Even if you have medical insurance that pays for some of your medical bills, you should still keep track of them because sometimes your health insurer will seek reimbursement from you for some of what it pays for.
Non-economic damages are also known as general damages. The difference between economic and non-economic damages is that while you can usually add up economic damages with some certainty, non-economic damages are largely intangible and come from injuries that do not lend themselves to precise calculation (one reason why a personal injury settlement calculator is difficult to create) but are still worth money.
Examples of non-economic damages you can suffer from a personal injury accident include:
Even though you may recover from your personal injury accident in most ways, sometimes you can be left with permanent physical reminders in the form of scars or soft tissue damage that can affect how you live the rest of your life. Sometimes these can be minor or can be concealed, and sometimes they can result in a practical disability like blindness, deafness, or the loss of use of a limb. These kinds of wounds are compensable as non-economic damages.
The more serious these kinds of residual injuries are, the greater your settlement sum or damages award will likely be.
Sometimes your injuries can cause you to at least temporarily lose the ability to perform certain normal daily life activities that you would in your family or spousal relationships. You can be compensated for these kinds of losses.
Pain and suffering damages that you can seek compensation for can have their source in either physical or mental harm. For example, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, then you might suffer residual physical pain from the accident that persists even after your medical treatment is complete. Or, if you suffered emotional distress during the accident, like witnessing the injury or death of a loved one, this can cause long-term effects like anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders that are all forms of non-economic damages.
You can receive pain and suffering damages for physical or mental/emotional distress you experience from the personal injury accident itself, and for chronic or ongoing pain and suffering into the future.
If the personal injury accident leads to the death of a loved one, Arizona law recognizes a claim for wrongful death of that person. Many of the damages calculations that go into a claim for personal injury damages are the same for a wrongful death claim, but the way you and your attorney calculate the damages is different because the harm—in this case, the loss of life—happens to someone else.
In a wrongful death claim, damages claims can be split between the estate of the person who died and the surviving relatives. The table below shows some of the ways this split cause of action works for calculating damages.
|Claims for Surviving Relatives||Claims for the Decedent’s Estate|
|Loss of household contributions from the deceased person.||Lost income or wages for the remainder of the decedent’s expected working life.|
|Pain and suffering experienced in connection with the death of a loved one.||Pain and suffering caused by the accident, up to the death of the injured person.|
|Loss of guidance and support for any surviving children.||Medical treatment costs connected with the accident prior to death.|
|Damage to property belonging to surviving relatives.||Damage to property belonging to the deceased person.|
One additional calculation in a wrongful death claim that you will not calculate in an ordinary personal injury case is costs for the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses.
Calculating non-economic damages in Arizona can seem more like art than science. To help estimate how much non-economic damages are worth, Arizona uses special circumstances multipliers as a short-hand way to calculate pain and suffering damages.
An example of a special circumstance is if you were injured in an accident with a driver who was drunk or under the influence of drugs, or someone who was engaged in borderline reckless behavior like texting while driving. For these situations, the law allows insurance companies and juries that evaluate the value of your pain and suffering damages to increase them by up to a factor of five times the base damages calculation.
How much your special circumstance multiplier factor might be depends largely on the severity of the harm you suffered: the greater the physical or mental injuries, the more likely it becomes that your multiplier will increase. For example, if the harm you suffered was a traumatic brain injury that resulted from a head-on collision with a drunk driver, this is likely to score a higher multiplier than a lingering back problem after a comparatively minor rear-end car accident caused by a distracted driver.
Here are some of the considerations that can affect how great the special circumstances multiplier can be on your case value:
Punitive damages have two purposes: to increase the amount that people must pay for harm they do that comes from more egregious or serious behaviors that led to the harm, and to discourage others from doing something similar.
Punitive damages are not easy to prove in Arizona. They require you and your personal injury lawyer to establish that the person who caused the accident and its harm acted with at least a sense of “deliberate indifference.” Another standard of proof that can apply is if the other person’s behaviors were motivated by “an evil hand and an evil mind.”
Two factors can influence how much you can receive in punitive damages in Arizona. The first factor is that unlike many other states, Arizona places no statutory limit on how much you can receive in punitive damages. The second factor imposes a punitive damages limit that Arizona courts have decided on: your punitive damages can be up to nine times the amount of your economic and non-economic compensatory damages. If your punitive-to-compensatory damages ratio goes past 9-to-1, then under this court-imposed factor the punitive damages award can violate the Arizona state constitution.
An Arizona personal injury plaintiff’s lawyer, like one of our PI attorneys at Stone Rose Law, will know how to present the facts of your case to present the best supporting arguments to win an award of punitive damages.
Although most of the additional factors that contribute to your personal injury can lead to the prospect of a higher settlement amount or damages award, there is one way your damages award can be reduced: if you were partly at fault for causing the accident. In Arizona, “comparative fault” allows a jury to allocate the blame for an injury-causing accident among the different people who contributed to it, on a percentage basis.
For example, if a jury determines that the other driver in a car accident was 90 percent at fault for causing it and you were 10 percent at fault, then any damages award you receive will be reduced by 10 percent.
Now that we have examined some of the most common kinds of damages that you can seek in an Arizona personal injury claim, let’s consider some ways you can add them up to calculate your settlement value. We will use the “multiplier method” as an example for calculating settlement.
The formula the multiplier method uses is as follows. First we assign dollar values where possible to your physical and mental injuries, property loss, and lost earnings.
|Your medical expenses||$25,000 Hospital surgery bill |
$1,000 ambulance bill
$500 Lab fees
$100 prescription medications
|Your special circumstance multiplier||X5 for a brain injury resulting from the accident|
|Lost wages or income||$25,000 for six months of lost income|
|Property damage||$7,000 vehicle repair cost|
Based on this information, we apply the following formula using the multiplier method:
Your medical expenses: $26,600
Your Special Circumstance Multiplier: 5
Lost wages and income: $25,000
$26,600 x 5 = $133,000
Add $25,000 in lost income = $158,000
This would be an estimate of the potential settlement value or damages claim of your economic and non-economic damages claims.
“You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.”
Getting all you deserve in settlement value for personal injury in Arizona takes an experienced plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer to help you. This is not only because of the complexities of calculating and proving economic, non-economic, and punitive damages in personal injury cases. Perhaps more importantly, it is because more than 90 percent of personal injury claims never make it to court. They settle first.
What this means is that to receive more compensation, you need an attorney on your side who knows how Arizona personal injury laws work and is a tough negotiator on your behalf:
No Arizona lawyer can guarantee you a result in any case, especially a personal injury matter. There are too many variables involved when calculating settlement value in injury cases, so your personal injury claim is unique to you.
What we can and do promise to you at Stone Rose Law are two things:
If you have been in an accident that has caused you personal injury, don’t wait to call us at (480) 498-8998 in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, or anywhere else in Maricopa County. You have only two years from the time of the accident to pursue a legal claim for personal injury in Arizona, and it takes time for your lawyer to investigate and prepare your case for settlement negotiations or trial, so it is important that you act as soon as possible to protect your legal rights to full-value compensation.
Getting into a personal-injury-causing accident in Arizona is not a case of “You have everything to win and nothing to lose.” You have much to lose if you do not pursue your right to compensation for the harm done to you by someone else.
Let the Stone Rose Law Firm help you get the maximum dollar value of personal injury compensation you need and deserve after an accident. Call us at (480) 498-8998 to talk with one an experienced attorney and to set up a no-cost initial appointment. Or, if you prefer, you can contact us online to make a free legal analysis appointment, or to ask us a question.
Whichever option you choose, don’t wait. Time is your enemy in a personal injury claim. Call Stone Rose Law today for a free consultation.