How to Calculate the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim

By Peter DePaolis

When another party causes you injury in Virginia, you can pursue a personal injury claim for damages. Damages include physical, emotional, and financial loss. The courts cannot undo the harm another person causes, so the law provides for monetary compensation for that harm. However, it can be challenging to determine the value of a personal injury claim. Our Virginia personal injury attorneys are here to help. 

How Do You Calculate Damages for a Personal Injury Case In Virginia?

Compensatory damages are divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages reimburse you for financial losses related to the accident. They include:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Skilled care
  • Household services
  • Diminished earning capacity

The value of economic damages is the value of the actual financial loss. Therefore, if your medical bills total $100,000, you can recover $100,000 for medical expenses.

Non-economic damages are subjective. They represent your pain and suffering. Examples include:

  • Emotional distress
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Physical pain 
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Impairments and disabilities

No statutory formula for calculating pain and suffering for personal injury cases exists. However, a common method for placing a value on pain and suffering is the multiplier method.

A number is multiplied by the economic damages. The result is the value of non-economic damages. The multiplier is based on the facts of the case and typically does not exceed five. Generally, the multiplier increases with the severity of the injuries and the impact on the person’s life.

You Could Be Entitled to Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are allowed in Virginia personal injury lawsuits. The jurors award punitive damages against the defendant if the defendant acted with wanton and willful disregard for the safety of other people. It can be a difficult level of proof to meet. Also, punitive damages are limited to a maximum of $350,000. 

How Does Contributory Negligence Impact the Value of a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia?

Contributory negligence is a common law rule that bars an injured party from receiving compensation for damages if they are partially to blame for causing their injuries. If you are 1% at fault for causing an accident or injury, the other party does not have to compensate you for damages. The other party avoids liability even though they are 99% to blame for causing your injury. 

Because contributory negligence is so harsh, many states have replaced it with comparative negligence. Only Virginia, the District of Columbia, and three other states continue to apply contributory negligence in personal injury cases.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys

You deserve compensation for all damages and injuries caused by another party. However, the insurance company and the at-fault party fight to decrease the value of your personal injury claim. They are not interested in paying a fair amount to settle your claim. 

Before you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, make sure the amount is fair by talking with an attorney. Contact Koonz McKenney Johnson DePaulis, LLP, for a free case evaluation from an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to determine how much your case is worth. 

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.