Most people do not enter a personal injury claim with absolutely no history of medical issues. It is a rare person who was in flawless health when they were involved in an accident. Even if you do have some pre-existing conditions, you will be entitled to compensation for injuries that made your pre-existing conditions worse. This is known as exacerbation or aggravation of pre-existing conditions, and sometimes you may be able to also recover for mental conditions that result from this situation.
If you have a pre-existing condition that was made much worse by your accident, you may suffer from mental anguish, stress, or depression. If you do have pre-existing conditions, you can expect to be questioned on those conditions by the other side in the litigation. Obviously, they are going to want to say that they are not responsible for those pre-existing conditions, and there is some truth in that.
However, if they are liable for making your preexisting conditions worse, they are going to have to compensate you accordingly. Therefore, it is important for you to go over your complete medical history with your attorney, so you will know what questions you are going to face, and so you can make a realistic calculation of how your preexisting conditions may or may not influence your settlement amount.
If you are honest about your preexisting condition, you are far more likely to be able to answer all the questions with ease and will not be tripped up by surprise medical records. If you try and hide any of the pre-existing conditions, their subsequent discovery may cause you to be ineligible for any compensation at all. The insurance companies have a right to your prior medical history, and they will find out about any past injuries that you have sustained.
How Are The Settlement Amounts Calculated?
There are specific formulas that are used by both attorneys and insurance companies that calculate settlement amounts. These calculations are usually a starting point for negotiations. Most of these formulas have a “multiplier”, which combined with your medical expenses will come up with an amount for your non-economic losses. This means your pain and suffering. Your economic losses are your medical bills, property damage, and lost income. Non-economic losses are called “General” damages, and economic damages are called “Special” damages. The Special damages are easier to place a number on, they are the bills you have incurred, property damages, and the time that you have missed from work. The General damages are much harder to calculate, they include your pain and suffering, as well as the impact that the accident will have on your daily life.
This is where the “multiplier” comes in. An insurance adjuster will add up all the special damages and multiply them by a number between 1.5 and 5. Of course, the multiplier number will vary depending on your specific circumstances. They will depend on how bad your injuries were, and how expensive your medical bills have been. They will also depend on your likelihood of completely recovering, and whether the injuries are permanent or temporary. Your attorney will also fight for you regarding the multiplier, it is to your benefit to have the highest multiplier possible in calculating your claim.
Multipliers will also vary depending on different state laws and restrictions on personal injury claims. The multiplier will also be affected by any percentage of fault that you are responsible for in the accident. In Arizona, there is a “pure comparative” negligence state. That means the number of your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault, without any limits. (In some states, if your percentage of fault is more than 50%, you are not entitled to any damages at all).
There also may be punitive damages in your case that may change the numbers that have been determined by the multiplier. Your attorney will be able to discuss the possibility of punitive damages with you to determine the best possible resolution for your case.
How Do You Calculate Pain And Suffering?
Pain and Suffering are considered “general” Damages, and they are more difficult to calculate than the “Special” damages, which are economic. Insurance companies usually use one of two common methods to calculate pain and suffering. One is the “multiplier” method, and the other is the “per diem”, or daily rate method. The multiplier method will add up all your Special Damages, and then use a multiplier to determine a figure for the Special Damages. The Per Diem method is a way to calculate an amount for every day that you had to live with pain that was caused by your accident.
Usually, a starting point for a per diem method calculation is your daily earnings. Your daily earnings are multiplied by the number of days that you suffered, sometimes this may seem like a large amount, but you will be responsible for justifying that amount. The amount that is calculated by the multiplier method and by the per diem method may come out to extremely different amounts. You will have to discuss the options with an experienced personal injury attorney to see which method works in your best interest and which method is more likely to result in a favorable settlement for you.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?
The first step is getting the settlement check from the insurance company. The check may be made out to you personally, or it may be made out to your lawyer. The insurance company may want to issue a separate check to your medical provider. If the check is made out to your attorney, you will have to come into the office and sign it. The check then goes into the law firm trust account until it clears. Once the check has cleared, separate checks are made out to you, to the attorney, and any third parties who must be paid out of the settlement. This process can usually be done within a few days of receiving the settlement check from the insurance company.
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