The weeks and months after an accident can be a scary and frustrating time, made more so by the legalese and jargon of lawyers trying to explain your options. Even if you dislike being litigious, in this situation, your best bet really is to have a professional stand by your side and walk you through this process. They have the training and experience to guide you through the lawsuit.
Unlike criminal court cases, where the perpetrator or at-fault party are brought to court by the government, in personal injury cases, the case is brought about by the injured party. At the beginning of the case, there will be a fact-finding and “discovery” process. The discovery is when each party’s lawyers share the information found in the fact finding. This is how fault is determined and the case is built.
This case can be settled at any stage, or brought all the way to court. Typically personal injury cases are settled before going to court. Once fault has been determined, either through the at fault party settling, or based on the findings of a judge, restitution can be determined.
Restitution is the compensation that will be awarded to you as a result of the wrong done to you. Restitution can include the coverage of medical bills accrued, wages lost, and pain inflicted. The law discusses this in terms of “damages;” with the term damage merely referring to something for which the at-faulty party must pay to compensate. There are two types of damages: special and general.
Special damages can be thought of as economic, or monetary, damages. This is relatively easy to calculate, as it is easy to quantify and prove. This category is the amount of money lost in wages or the medical bills that you have paid or are projected to pay.
General damages are the other things for which you should be compensated, namely pain and suffering. This can be emotional: fear, worry, anxiety, stress; or physical: back or neck pain, headaches, lost sleep etc. General damages are harder to calculate, but there are two accepted methods for calculating your pain and suffering.
Value of Your Pain
Of the numerous ways to calculate a value to compensate you for your pain and suffering, there are two methods most commonly used by insurance companies. One is called the Per Diem (meaning per day) Method which is basically the idea that you should be paid a certain amount for every day you have, or will, suffer. The disputed factor when using the per diem method is the value placed on each day. A typical value used is the amount of your daily take-home earnings.
The other method, which is oftentimes preferred, is called the Multiplier Method. The multiplier method basically assigns a multiplier based on the severity of your accident. The amount calculated for your special (economic) damages is multiplied by this value to determine the total restitution deserved. The most common disputed factor when using the multiplier method is the multiplier assigned itself. It is in your interest to have the highest multiplier possible, but it must be justifiable and the at-fault party will have stringent thoughts on this.
Your Personal Injury Case
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, it can be a drawn out and confusing process. It is important that you have someone standing by your side with all the expertise of the big insurance company law teams. A personal injury lawyer will stand by your side, explaining the process and fighting to get you what you deserve.