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Calculating Damages In A Car Accident Claim


Being injured in an auto accident can be an overwhelming experience. People often suffer the impact not only physically but there are monetary and emotional consequences as well. Under the law, people have the right to recover for what is called compensable damages. It is common knowledge that insurance companies use a formula to determine the amount of compensation paid in an injury claim.  The formula doesn’t actually determine the exact amount of compensation someone should receive, however it is a tool that insurance adjusters use to begin the process of valuing the worth of a claim. The final determination regarding compensation is made after several other factors are considered.

Insurance adjusters use the compensation formula combining it with other factors to arrive at an amount they are willing to pay for a car accident claim. It is important that you as the plaintiff have a better understanding of how this formula works so that you can confidently assert your negotiations for a suitable compensation amount. According to the formula, the person liable for an accident and that person’s liability insurance have to compensate an injured party for:

  • Medical care and related expenses
  • Lost income due to missed work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Loss of family, social, and educational experiences
  • Emotional damages

Although it is fairly simple to calculate the financial damages due to a car accident in terms of money spent or lost wages, there is no precise method of determining the dollar amount of compensation for pain and suffering as well as missed experiences and lost opportunities. This is where the formula comes into play. When negotiations are initiated on a car accident claim, the insurance adjuster simply adds up the total medical expenses related to the injury. Then, in order to determine the value of compensation for pain and suffering, permanent disability, and emotional damages, the adjuster will multiply the amount of medical damages by one-and-a-half to three times for minor injuries and up to five or more times for severe injuries that are particularly debilitating or long-lasting.

After that amount is determined, the adjuster will add any lost wages to that amount. The total amount is then usually the point where negotiations start. Insurance adjusters generally will never reveal the formula that they have used to value your claim and may not even admit to using any formula in the first place. Therefore you should also refrain from presenting too many details regarding the amount of compensation that you have demanded. It is advisable to simply negotiate total settlement amounts. However it should be kept in mind that the formula determined amount is just a starting point for negotiations. It may go up or it may come down depending on the circumstances of your claim. Some of the factors that impact the valuation of an auto accident claim are:

  • The type of injury suffered.
  • The length of medical treatment.
  • The medical evidence of your injury.
  • The recovery period from your injuries.
  • Permanent effects of injury.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident it is imperative to seek the counsel of a qualified and experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

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The Law Office of Riedmiller, Andersen and Scott LLC provides strong representation for personal injury and workers compensation cases.

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