Posted by Jeremy Swanson
On May 14, 2024

How to Calculate Damages

Why Do I Need to Calculate Damages?

When you file your case, you request from the court an amount to award you as compensation for your injury. You present your list of injuries and you state before the court what it is that those injuries have cost you. Sometimes, you may even ask for punitive damages to prevent the person who injured you from committing similar acts in the future.

When you file a claim before the court requesting remedy for an injury, you don’t simply make up a number associated with the cost. You have to actually present what that money is meant to repair or replace. Your injury does not have to be entirely tangible, for example, you can seek monetary compensation for emotional injury. However, you would still have to explain why your injury incurred the cost that you are requesting.

Going before a judge and asking for an outrageous sum with no substantiation for why you should be awarded that amount is a great way to get a court to view your entire case as an opportunistic money grab. Most plaintiffs in personal injury are looking for some semblance of normality to return to their lives, and there’s not a lot that’s more frustrating than to be accused of an exploitive lawsuit. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your case is not hampered by poorly founded claims.

How Do I Determine My Damages?

Damages in personal injury can range from the concrete to the nebulous. Concrete damages could be a broken bone or an injury you were hospitalized for, with a clear receipt, insurance premium increase, and lost wages that you can calculate easily. These damages are easy to substantiate, and if a court sides with you, very likely to be awarded.

More difficult calculations would involve pain and suffering, or emotional or psychological injury claims, where it’s difficult to nail down where the loss begins and where it ends. You want to make sure that you gather as much information about what your loss cost you as you possibly can, and project it out as far as reasonably possible. Once you’ve done that, you may be able to estimate a total cost of your injuries. Compensation for pain and suffering is an incredibly difficult thing to narrow down mathematically. These damage claims are the most likely to be dismissed or awarded a smaller amount than requested and are going to require extremely powerful evidence and persuasive arguments to sway a judge.

Who Decides My Damages?

The ultimate decision on what your damages amount to rests with the adjudicator of the facts, either the judge or a jury. Regardless of what it is that you claim as your damages, they are the ones who will come to the final decision on the actual injury that you suffered. The largest fluctuation in what you claim versus what would be awarded is likely to be claims of emotional damages, or other claims that are difficult to quantify. Anything concrete that you are capable of showing to the court has a much higher chance of being awarded. Receipts and bills for medical or psychological services, assistance devices, or caregivers, for example, are some of the strongest pieces of evidence you can present that will sway a judge or jury.

Other factors can change the amount you are awarded. For example, if the act was particularly egregious or malicious, you might receive punitive damages which would increase the amount you are awarded. In contrast, comparative negligence claims by the defendant might persuade a judge that you are partially liable for your own injuries, which can lower your compensation. You can read more about comparative negligence here. The clearer your evidence and the more effectively you communicate your claims, the more likely it is that your damages will be taken seriously by a court and you will receive relief closer to what you asked for.

How We Can Help

There are many different kinds of damages that one can recover in a personal injury suit, and not all of them are plainly obvious. Having argued over 70 cases at trial, we have the experience to get to the bottom of all your possible claims and make sure that they are presented as convincingly as possible. If you’re looking to get your life back on track, schedule a free consultation with us today and let us assess your case at no charge to you.