How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
The biggest mistake an injured person can make is underestimating the worth of their personal injury claim. Insurance companies know this. This is why they may seem eager to settle with you before you can obtain legal representation. Only a personal injury attorney can tell you how much your personal injury case is worth. However, you may be able to predict a general range of personal injury awards you could receive. You can do this by learning the average settlement amounts for your type of injury in your area.
With every personal injury case, the amount you can recover will depend on several factors. The major variables in a personal injury case are:
- The severity of your injuries;
- The total cost of your medical bills (including future costs);
- Your income and how much time you will be out of work;
- The extent to which the defendant is at fault;
- How well you document your injuries and the facts of the case; and
- Whether or not there is permanent impairment.
How Are Damages Calculated in a Colorado Personal Injury Case?
Many states have laws that limit or cap the amount of damages one can receive from a personal injury claim. To recognize a fair settlement or award, you must understand how we calculate damages. Civil courts distinguish between special damages (economic damages), general damages (non-economic damages), and punitive damages.
Special damages are the damages to which we can assign a specific dollar figure. These include:
- Outstanding medical bills;
- Ongoing and future medical costs;
- Lost wages and earning potential;
- Personal property loss or damage;
- Permanent injuries such as paralysis; and
- Other monetary expenses associated with your injury.
General damages do not have an exact monetary value. Determining the value of your general damages is trickier than adding special damages. General damages usually include:
- Physical pain and suffering; and
- Emotional distress (anxiety, stress, or loss of enjoyment).
Many attorneys calculate general damages by taking the total amount of special damages and multiplying it. Depending on the severity of your injuries, recovery time, and the defendant’s degree of recklessness or negligence, your attorney may decide to double, triple, or quadruple the special damages. Minor pain and suffering cause a 1.5 multiplier. Catastrophic cases may multiply the special damages five times or more.
Insurance companies use the multiplier when calculating general damages. They do so for the purposes of settlement negotiations. It is the most widely used method for determining the appropriate compensation for a personal injury claim.
Other Methods and Types of Damages
A less common approach for calculating general damages is the “per diem method.” We use this method for temporary injuries. An attorney will assign a daily rate or per diem for every day the injured person had to endure the pain of her injury. There is no agreed-upon daily rate for this approach, but a judge can determine if the amount is fair and reasonable.
Punitive damages come into play when the defendant’s behavior is so disgraceful, the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff are not enough to serve justice to the defendant. Punitive damages are usually reserved for deep-pocket defendants that acted in a morally reprehensible way. Unfortunately, Colorado state law places a strict cap on punitive damages. The amount of punitive damages cannot exceed the actual damages in the case.
Permanent damange, such as disfigurement, loss of use of limbs, or scaring, can also be included in damages.
Colorado Slip and Fall Cases
The injuries that result from slip and fall cases, and other premises liability cases, can range from minor to very serious. A minor slip and fall case in Colorado may yield a $15,000-20,000 settlement. If you experienced long-term hospitalization, paralysis, or other devastating injuries, your personal injury case could be worth $100,000-$250,000 or more.
Colorado Dog Attack Injury Cases
Dog bites and other canine-related injuries are very common. The injuries sustained can be relatively minor, very serious, or even fatal. The majority of dog bite victims are children. They may suffer permanent scarring and disfigurement, brain damage, or loss of limb. In addition to biting, dogs also cause injuries by knocking over or trampling someone. This can result in broken bones and head injuries.
When homeowners are liable for injuries caused by their aggressive dogs, the settlements and judgments range from $10,000-$20,000 for less serious injuries to well above $50,000 in some cases. The average settlement for a dog-related injury case is $32,000 nationally.
Car Accident Injuries in Colorado
Motor vehicle accident injury cases will depend highly on the facts of the case. If the court finds you were partially at fault for the accident, your damages will decrease. The rate of the drop depends on the percentage for which you are at fault. The average car accident settlement in Colorado is $50,000-$100,000. However, serious cases often result in much higher personal injury awards.
When a commercial 18-wheeler causes an accident, the settlements are often higher than other cases. However, the insurance companies that deal with commercial truck accidents are notoriously difficult to handle. If an 18-wheeler or semi-truck strikes you, you’ll have a lot on your plate. You should consult with a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Wrongful Death Cases in Colorado
The average award in a Colorado wrongful death case varies wildly. The amount of a settlement or judgment will depend on many factors, including the financial support the loved one provided, the age of the deceased, and the degree of negligence that caused the death. While some wrongful death cases yield low actual damages, other settlements are in the millions of dollars.
Personal Injury Lawyer in Denver Colorado
If you are injured in an accident in Colorado, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. The next step is to call a personal injury lawyer. It costs nothing to have your case reviewed by an attorney. Steve Roberts is an experienced personal injury attorney dedicated to helping victims obtain justice and a fair settlement for their injuries. Contact our office in Denver, Colorado to schedule a free initial consultation.