When you are injured due to the negligence of another person, it can be difficult to know what a fair settlement is under the particular circumstances of the case.
Pursuant to New Mexico law, the injury victim has the right to compensation that will make her whole again. It is no easy matter to determine the value of your personal injury claim and what it means to make an individual “whole” after she has been harmed by the negligence of another.
It is common for attorneys to discuss compensation in terms of the damages to the injury victim. The term “damages” refers to the harm suffered by an individual. It will invariably include many different types of harms and losses sustained in an accident.
The 3 x Multiplier Formula
There is no set 3x multiplier formula for measuring damages in a personal injury case.
Some individuals come to Whitener Law Firm with ideas about how compensation is determined. It is common for injury victims to take their medical bills, multiply them by three and then add on the lost wages. This is not a meaningful way to calculate the damages in a given case. A quick example of two common types of injury cases will illustrate this.
In a case where an individual has a back strain and goes to a chiropractor for two months, she may have medical bills of around $5,000. Taking this number and multiplying by 3 would result in compensation in the amount of $15,000.
However, an individual who is hit and has 4 fractured ribs, an exceedingly painful type of injury, will often have few medical bills or little treatment because there is simply nothing to be done about fractured ribs in the vast majority of cases.
The victim is in excruciating pain but must wait for them to heal. His medical bills might be as little as $1,500. It would be a mistake to multiply the medical bills by 3 and settle for $4,500. The case with the broken ribs is certainly worth more than the case with $5,000 in medical bills.
Schedule of Injuries Formula
Another common idea held by injury victims is that there is some type of schedule for damages. This idea originates with claims for workers’ compensation claims which do have a very rigid schedule for injuries that set out very specific amounts for damages.
In workers’ compensation cases, injuries are calculated by looking at a list of possible injuries and this tells you the value of each type of claim. This won’t include a claim for pain and suffering or punitive damages since those claims are barred in worker compensation situations.
The Nuanced New Mexico Personal Injury Formula
The reality is that these are over-simplistic ways of determining what the individual’s damages really are.
Determining damages is much more of an art than a science. However, when looking at the claims for damages of an injury victim, there will be certain factors that determine the amount that should be paid in any given case.
Common claims for damages in a typical injury case will look something like the following:
+ property Damage
+ Loss of Use of a Vehicle
+ Rental Expenses
+ Past Medical Bills
+ Future Medical Bills
+ Travel for Medical Treatment
+ Lost Wages
+ Loss of Earning Capacity; and
+ Pain and Suffering
= Total Damages
This looks pretty straightforward when written out like this but insurance settlements are seldom this straightforward. There are many complicating factors that come to bear. You need to assess, balance and weigh many variables in order to reach the real answer to a real-world question.
The Question of Pain and Suffering
The most difficult problem in the formula is determining how to calculate pain and suffering. This is where there can be no substitute for the experience of an attorney who has done this for many years. You can look at the jury instruction that will tell a jury to look at the “nature, extent and duration” of an injury, however, it is hard to know what that means. Mostly it comes down to how serious the injury was, how long it lasted and whether you can convince a jury that it was this way.
Insurance Company Obstructionism and the Formula
Insurance companies try to nickel and dime accident victims all the way down the line. They insist that rental expenses should be only $20.00 a day despite the overwhelming evidence that an accident victim cannot rent a vehicle for less than $40.00 to $50.00 a day. They claim that the mechanical problems are not caused by the crash, refuse to match paint and drag their feet on paying claims.
It only gets worse the further into the claim you get. The actions of the adjuster will be to reduce the amount they will pay on the claim. This means playing games and creating problems.
They question whether injuries were caused by the crash. It will not matter how clear it is that the accident caused the injury. The game is to dispute everything possible to make it difficult to collect.
Adjusters will question liability and do everything imaginable to blame the victim. Whether their insured runs a red light, fails to stop at a stop sign or rear-ends a victim, there will be an attempt to argue that the victim somehow caused the crash.
After all, adjusters will argue, isn’t it the fault of the victim for not swerving out of the way of the driver running a traffic light. You, the injury victim, should just have better reflexes.
Finally, the adjuster will claim that the bills are too high. It won’t matter who the provider is. Adjusters will conclude that every provider is charging too much and only they, with a special book written in New York, know what the true cost of the medical bills should be in New Mexico. This amount is somehow always less than the actual charge.
They, of course, don’t do these things because they believe them. It is a game where they play to drag things out and wear you down. Everything the adjuster does is to cheat the injury victim out of money.
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, call Whitener Law Firm to find out what we can do to get you the money you deserve. For a free consultation regarding a personal injury claim, contact us at 505-883-7877.
There is NO FEE unless we win your case.