Many variables can wind up affecting the amount of compensation you can recover for a personal injury claim. Although each case is different, here are a few common factors.
Amount of Damages
Damages is the legal term referring to the amount of financial, physical, and psychological losses you have suffered as a result of the accident. The higher the damages, the increased value of your claim. For example, personal injury victims have the right to recover:
- Medical Expenses: Reimbursement for current and future treatment and any other injury-related medical expenses.
- Property Damage: Compensation for repairing or replacing your damaged property caused by the accident. (e.g., vehicle, clothing, phone, laptop, etc.)
- Lost Income: Any income you have lost while recovering and are expected to lose in the future due to your injury. You may also be able to recover compensation for diminished earning capacity if your injury has forced you into a different line of work or impacts your ability to earn an income in the future.
- Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering damages can be a prominent factor in the amount of compensation awarded in a personal injury claim. However, because these are subjective losses, it will require the skill and legal strategy of an attorney to influence the outcome. When assessing their worth, an insurer, judge, or jury may consider the following factors:
- Your Age: more pain and suffering damages will likely be awarded to a younger victim, who will have to suffer for the rest of their lives.
- Injury Severity: severe injuries that cause a great deal of physical pain or limitations will generally result in larger damage awards. (e.g., brain injury, spinal cord injury)
- Pre-existing injuries: victims are not entitled to receive payment for injuries and conditions that already existed and are unaffected by an accident. They are, however, entitled to compensation for pre-existing conditions that are made worse by the event. This is known as exacerbation or aggravation of pre-existing conditions.
- Negative Impact on Your Life: how your daily life is affected, including in the past, presently, and will be in the future. To come up with this sum, a multiplier method is typically used. This method multiplies your calculable losses (e.g., medical bills, property damage, lost income) by a number typically between 1.5 to 5. The multiplier number will be chosen based on the severity and impact of your injuries. Evidence that clearly demonstrates the other party’s fault can also increase the multiplier number used.
- Punitive Damages: This type of compensation is only awarded in cases involving a defendant (at-fault party) who exhibited a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
Under New York’s pure comparative fault system, each party’s contribution to the accident will be assigned a percentage, and their compensation will be reduced accordingly. For instance, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 40 percent at fault for your accident, you will only receive 60 percent or $60,000. If you are found 90 percent responsible, you will only recover 10 percent or $10,000. This law allows you to recover compensation even if you are 99 percent to blame for your injury, but it can drastically limit how much you receive.
Insurance Policy Limits
Insurance policies have maximum benefit amounts, and because of that, the at-fault party’s insurance policy’s limits can play a surprisingly significant role in your financial recovery. If your damages exceed their policy limits, the insurance company is not required to pay the difference. Any amount beyond the maximum they are willing to pay will have to be recovered in some other way. For example, suing the at-fault party personally. However, recovering compensation from the at-fault party personally will hinge on whether they have assets. For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our Westchester personal injury attorneys.