In the United States, personal injury settlements are generally governed by state law. In some states, that means the legislature has established a formula for calculating non-economic damages. In other states, like Texas, there is no set formula, and courts make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Tort reformers have been working to change laws to capped non-economic damages in many states. If you have suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
Car accidents in Texas
As a general rule, the compensation received for injuries in Texas car accidents may be considered under three broad categories: economic loss, non-economic loss, and punitive damages. Economic losses are those resulting from physical injuries or property damage. They include medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services. Non-economic losses are related to pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other intangible factors. Punitive damages are awarded in a small number of cases when the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or malicious. It is important to note that only economic losses are tax-deductible.
The two most common compensation methods used in accident cases are lump-sum settlements and structured settlements. A lump-sum settlement is a one-time payment given at the time of the settlement. Structured settlements involve several scheduled payments over a period of years or even decades. The option chosen by an injured client depends on several factors, including his financial situation at the time of the accident, his life expectancy, whether there are dependents who will also be dependent on the money he receives as compensation, whether he will be able to maintain steady employment in the future, and how much money he would need at once to cover his initial monetary damages.
How much is pain & suffering worth?
That depends on the state you live in and various other factors.
The calculation of non-economic damage awards for personal injuries varies widely from state to state and has been criticized for giving windfalls to plaintiffs who settle with insurance companies rather than go to trial. The American Bar Association (ABA) has supported legislation that would replace the current system with a statutory cap” on non-economic damages. Instead of allowing juries to calculate whatever they think is fair based on their sense of fairness, statutory caps create specific dollar amounts that must be paid to an injured plaintiff if they win a lawsuit against a negligent party.
What are the Types of Insurance Claims?
In filing an insurance claim, you need to determine the type of claim. This will depend on the situation of the accident. Basically, there are two types of claims: first-party and third-party.
When you file a first-party claim, you will be filing a claim against your own insurance company because you were involved in the accident. If you were not involved in the accident, you have to file a third-party insurance claim to the person who caused the accident. The extent of your coverage also matters when filing an insurance claim. You must know how much coverage your insurance has for personal injury protection (or PI). Usually, personal liability coverage is more than enough for your needs. You can use this as evidence in filing an insurance claim.
How to Process the Insurance Claim?
The first thing you need to do is know how much your insurance policy will cover. There are also cases where you may need to hire a lawyer to assist you through the legal process while claiming for injuries.
To receive the full payment of the insurance claim, you will need to provide the insurance company with enough evidence. You should report the incident to your insurance company immediately after the accident. For example, suppose you were in a motor vehicle accident and suffered injuries. In that case, you will need to file a police report so that there is an official record of your accident.
TIP: You can use online car insurance claim calculators to get an idea of how much your claim might be worth. In addition, don’t forget to also take pictures of your damaged car right after the accident occurs.
Your insurance company will ask for information about the incident and details about any injuries you have suffered as a result of the accident. After reporting your claim, you should consider obtaining any documentation or other evidence that may relate to the accident. You must make copies of this proof before turning over original copies to your insurance company. If you have been injured in an accident, it is important that you seek medical attention for any injuries or other health conditions.
How to Calculate Pain and Damages for the Claim Value?
The main task when claiming an amount for pain and suffering is to properly assess the situation. You need to show that you suffered from the accident, but you must also make it clear that you have not suffered as much as possible. You can do this by giving details of your injuries and how they affected your life.
While there are different theories about pain and suffering, most lawyers use one of these three methods:
The “totality” or “aggregate” theory.
First, a lawyer tries to calculate the total value of the accident and its consequences for both physical and emotional damages. Then they calculate the percentage that each type of damage is worth compared to the total amount. In a serious car crash accident, which caused permanent disability and deformity, these damages might be 50% of the total value of the case. In a minor accident, where there was limited property damage but some physical injury, they might be 10% or less. The lawyer then adds up all those percentages to reach a settlement figure.
Many personal injury attorneys favor this method because it allows them to argue for large amounts of damages in cases where their clients have suffered lifetime disabilities (such as paralysis or brain injury).
The “sufferings-based” theory.
Under the “subjective” theory, a jury will consider the nature of the injury and your pain and suffering. This theory is more difficult to prove because it requires testimony from a doctor who has examined you. This can determine how much pain you are in and whether there is permanent damage to your body.
In determining how much to award for “sufferings,” the jury looks at factors like:
- The nature and extent of the injury
- The disability or disfigurement caused by the injuries
- The pain and suffering endured by the injured party
- Emotional distress was caused to the injured party because of their injuries.
- Punitive damages may also be awarded in some cases if it can be proven that a defendant’s actions were malicious or done with intent to harm.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for their actions. They’re not designed to make up for lost wages or other financial losses sustained by an injured party.
The final theory is a combination of the two — subjective damages based on medical testimony, plus an objective multiplier (often one-and-a-half times actual damages).
The economic/actual damages in a Texas personal injury claim are based on the actual expenses that the injured party has incurred due to the injuries sustained. An example would be medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs of medications, and other costs directly related to the injuries sustained in the accident. These include things like lost wages, vehicle repair costs, property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses. The total dollar amount recovered for economic damages will vary depending on the injuries sustained.