Calculating Damages in a Manhattan Car Accident Case

If you were injured by someone else’s negligence in a Manhattan car accident case, you deserve compensation for your injuries. That concept is the core idea of the civil justice system in this country. While it may be a good starting point, it does leave out some important details. Probably the most important is how a judge or jury should calculate the value of that compensation.

The Basics of Damages

The legal term for the money you are owed in a civil case is damages. Damages represent the totality of the money you deserve. There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. They are calculated in several different ways.

Calculating Economic Damages

Economic damages are the easiest type of damages to calculate because they represent real financial losses that you experienced or will experience. It is theoretically possible to provide a receipt that accounts for every dollar of economic damages you are owed. However, that theory runs into some difficulties when some costs or losses won’t be tallied until some time in the future.

Past Costs and Losses

The simplest damages to calculate are those that have already affected you. Typically, by the time a court case reaches a verdict, this includes:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Services and equipment you need to purchase due to your injury
  • Cost to repair or replace your vehicle.

Except for the lost wages, you can produce a receipt for all of these costs. And your lost wages can be easily calculated based on the time you were unable to work and your salary or wage structure.

Future Costs and Losses

Just because the case has ended, that doesn’t mean you won’t face more losses in the future. If your injuries resulted in long-term disabilities, you could be out of work or receiving medical care for years or even decades after getting compensation. Your Manhattan car accident attorney will estimate the value of those damages by getting professional medical opinions about the severity of your injuries and the likely long-term effects. This lets your lawyer accurately portray the value of those claims to a jury.

Opportunity Losses

Finally, there is a type of economic loss that is the most complicated to calculate. These are potential losses. They also come in the future but differ from the previous category because they are less certain. Some examples will help explain the difference.

If you suffer a spine injury in a car accident, the doctor can evaluate the severity of that injury and give a relatively accurate estimate of how long you will have to receive medical care and therapy before you fully recover. Between the doctor’s experience and comparisons to people with similar injuries, these predictions are usually pretty fair. And leaving out inflation, the cost of that future medical care can be accurately determined from that information. Similarly, that same doctor can determine roughly how long it will be until you can return to work, and that loss in wages can be calculated as well.

Those damages both fall into the last category. But this calculation leaves out something important. If you miss out on work time, especially if you are away from work for multiple years, you will likely miss out on raises and promotions. No raise is certain, but it is highly likely, especially the longer you work at the same place. An experienced attorney will explain to the jury the average trajectory of people who work in your position and what opportunities you are likely to miss out on because of your injuries. While this is the most common type of opportunity loss, this category covers any financial opportunities that you might miss out on due to your injuries.

Non-Economic Damages

You can also receive compensation that doesn’t restore a financial loss. These are called non-economic damages. The type that most people are familiar with is called “pain and suffering.” The idea is that you deserve to get paid for any reduction in the quality of your life. But how can you put a value on the loss of quality of life?

There are two common answers to this. The first answer is to apply a simple multiplier to any economic damages you suffered. Thus, if your economic damages came to $40,000, a jury might rule that your non-economic damages were worth $80,000 (using a 2x multiplier). This is usually an effective way to evaluate non-economic damages when economic damages are significant.

But sometimes the pain you suffer is extremely high, even when economic damages are relatively low. For example, if your newborn was killed in a car accident, you will probably suffer extreme emotional trauma for the rest of your life due to that wrongful death. But even including the cost of a funeral, your economic losses might be relatively trivial. In this case, the jury might assign a per diem value to your loss. This method assigns a set value per day that you suffer. Thus, if a jury set that per diem value to $100 and determined you would mourn for 40 years, you would be awarded roughly $1.5 million.

Calculating Damage Is Both Science and Art

Juries are given a daunting task. They have to sort through piles of evidence to determine both the economic and non-economic value of a Manhattan car accident. Typically, this means that they have to evaluate the opinions of conflicting experts and try to understand exactly how much pain a victim endured due to a car accident. While some of these calculations are relatively easy, others require guesswork more than anything else. Fortunately, centuries of precedence can help juries make these difficult decisions.

Contact Tucker Lawyers Immediately to Maximize Your Damages After a Manhattan Car Accident

If you want to get the maximum compensation possible after a Manhattan car accident, consult with an experienced attorney at Tucker Lawyers. Our lawyers will always fight to get you as much money as the law allows. Contact us today at (516) 399-2364 to schedule a free case evaluation.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

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