How Do You Calculate Compensatory Damages?
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is never easy, especially if you have suffered severe injuries. If another person’s wrongdoing or negligent actions caused an accident that injured you, you might be entitled to compensation. Accident-related losses can range from minimal to significant and you may be wondering how to calculate compensatory damages. Every case is unique, and the amount of damages you may be eligible for will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Immediately following an accident, you may not feel hurt, but that can quickly change. Often, injuries manifest or worsen over time. Before speaking with the insurance companies, contact our injury attorney. You may be entitled to more than you think. Don’t let an insurance company convince you to accept less than what you deserve.
The amount of financial compensation awarded to a plaintiff will depend on several factors. A knowledgeable and skilled attorney can ensure you receive the compensation you are owed under South Carolina law.
What Are Compensatory Damages and How to Calculate Them?
Before discussing how to calculate compensatory damages, it is essential to understand what compensatory damages are in the first place.
As the name suggests, compensatory damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for actual losses caused by the defendant.
Compensatory damages are generally divided into two categories: economic and noneconomic damages. As a plaintiff, you may seek both.
Economic damages are objectively verifiable monetary losses. Examples of economic damages include but are not limited to:
- Medical costs, including past and future bills;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Property damage;
- Rehabilitation costs;
- Handicap accessibility modifications; and
- Therapy costs.
It is important to keep all records and receipts for expenses you’ve incurred because of an accident. Keeping records such as doctor bills and pay stubs will help your attorney calculate your economic damages.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are defined as subjective non-monetary losses. Examples of noneconomic damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.
As you might imagine, quantifying and assigning a monetary value to economic damages is more straightforward than it is for noneconomic damages. While both are open to interpretation and negotiation, there is less room for subjective opinion with economic damages. The plaintiff likely has receipts and estimates to show actual and estimated costs, making monetary losses easier to quantify. While noneconomic damages are a bit more difficult to value, it is not impossible. A skilled personal injury attorney will know how to precisely calculate and craft your claim for noneconomic damages.
Compensatory damages and calculating them can be tricky, especially in more complex cases. Typically, the more severe the injuries, the more compensatory damages the plaintiff will seek. An experienced attorney can guide you to a successful recovery.
How to Calculate Compensatory Damages?
Calculating economic damages is typically pretty straightforward and based on evidence such as receipts, invoices, and estimates.
The most common type is medical expenses. Damages relating to medical bills and costs are calculated by adding up the cost of treatment. Your attorney will typically look at your medical bills, pharmacy receipts, therapy costs, and the cost of rehabilitation equipment to determine this number. The initial estimate for medical expenses can increase as time goes on if the plaintiff receives more treatment.
If there were any property damages due to the accident (for example, damage to your car or house), then you can also receive compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing that property.
Calculating Noneconomic Damages
It may be concerning to hear that calculating noneconomic damages is not as cut and dry as calculating economic damages. Calculating noneconomic damages is more complicated because there is no exact formula to measure emotional or psychological harm, especially when you try to put a dollar figure on someone’s pain and suffering.
Your attorney will likely rely on several sources for calculating damages related to your noneconomic losses. These include but are not limited to:
- Your testimony,
- Testimony from family and close friends,
- Personal journals or diaries,
- Testimony of doctors and therapists,
- Medical records,
- Photographs, and
- Prescription medications.
There is no one size fits all method to determine damages. Our law firm will assist you in gathering supporting documents and evidence so your claim accurately reflects your losses.
You may wonder what is on the flip side of compensatory damages. As that name suggests, it’s non-compensatory damages. Non-compensatory damages, also known as punitive damages, generally punish the defendant for intentional or egregious behavior. A plaintiff cannot be awarded punitive damages alone. In other words, a plaintiff must first win an award for compensatory damages to claim punitive damages. These damages are not often awarded and are generally given at the court’s discretion. To learn more about if you may be entitled to non-compensatory damages, contact the Peace Law Firm to discuss your eligibility.
South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
We have 20 years of experience fighting for the little guy at the Peace Law Firm. Here, we don’t represent big corporations or insurance companies. Instead, our focus is on helping those who have been wronged or injured receive the compensation they deserve. In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of injury to file a personal injury claim, don’t wait. Contact us today by phone or online for a free consultation.