How Personal Injury Damages Are Calculated
The amount of damages you are entitled to in a Kansas City personal injury case will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries, the circumstances of the accident, and more. These damages — known as compensatory damages — are divided into two distinct subcategories that require drastically different methods of calculation.
Economic damages are calculated by looking at how much money you lost because of the accident. This can include the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Economic damages are simple to calculate, as they are generally just the sum of your documented losses and what will be lost in the future.
Non-economic damages are much more significant than economic damages. These damages account for the harms and losses anyone can relate to when they lose a limb, suffer a permanent injury, or worse, the death of a loved one. Some examples include the loss of enjoyment of life (can’t walk, can’t smell, can’t taste); the loss of the lifetime of guidance a child would receive from a parent; the closeness of companionship of a wife or husband that is gone after a death.
These can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and more. Due to their abstract nature, injured victims often find that it is much more difficult to recover compensation for non-economic damages in most personal injury cases, simply because the insurer has more leverage to push back on these types of claims.
To calculate non-economic damages, your Kansas City attorney will likely use one of two methods:
The Multiplier Method
This approach takes your economic damages and multiplies them by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries.
In rare cases, the court may also award punitive damages — but personal injury lawyers are not often able to seek these damages in a personal injury claim. They are designed to punish the at-fault party for particularly egregious behavior and are not commonly awarded in personal injury law cases.
Calculating punitive damages is much different than calculating compensatory damages, as there is no set formula that must be followed. Instead, the court will consider a number of factors, including the severity of the defendant’s actions, the economic damages suffered by the victim, and more, and choose a sum that is intended to punish the responsible party financially, and to deter that party from ever committing the act again in the future to someone else.