How is Personal Injury Compensation Calculated?

When you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, financial restitution becomes a critical component of your recovery, ensuring that you don’t have to bear the burden of medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs on your own. The capable, caring personal injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy in Philadelphia understand the importance of securing compensation that reflects the true extent of your physical and emotional, as well as economic, losses. 

How the Law Calculates Damages in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law is crafted to fully compensate the injured party for their losses. The process involves several steps and considerations, with the ultimate goal of making the victim whole again. Following is a detailed explanation of the categories that must be considered: 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are calculated based on the actual monetary losses the victim has incurred and will likely incur in the future as a direct result of their injury. These include:

  • Medical Expenses: Calculations start with bills already received for treatment directly related to the injury. Future medical costs are estimated based on the victim’s current and anticipated medical needs, often requiring expert testimony from medical professionals.
  • Lost Income: The calculation of lost wages is straightforward for those with a steady income: the amount lost is based on the period the victim has already been incapacitated and unable to work. For future income loss, particularly in cases of permanent disability, calculations involve estimating the victim’s expected earnings over their lifetime, adjusted for inflation, promotions, and career growth potential.
  • Property Damage: The cost to repair or replace damaged property (e.g., a vehicle in an auto accident) is relatively direct and based on market values or repair estimates.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are inherently more subjective and are calculated using less concrete numerical methods. These damages compensate for:

  • Pain and Suffering: There is no fixed formula for calculating pain and suffering in Pennsylvania. Juries or judges may consider the severity and permanency of injuries, the impact on the victim’s lifestyle, and the pain and discomfort endured. In some cases, multipliers between 1 and 5 are used to estimate these damages.
  • Emotional Distress: Emotional distress calculations take into account the psychological impact of the injury, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and loss of enjoyment of life. Expert testimony from psychologists or psychiatrists may be used to underscore these effects.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not directly related to the calculation of the victim’s losses but rather are intended to punish egregious wrongdoing by the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future. Though not capped in Pennsylvania, punitive damages must be proportionate to the severity of the wrongdoing and the economic and non-economic damages awarded.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania follows the principle of modified comparative negligence, meaning that the victim’s compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault in the accident. If the victim is found to be more than 50 percent at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

Damage Caps

While there are no caps on economic and non-economic damages in most personal injury cases, Pennsylvania law does impose caps on damages against government entities and in certain types of lawsuits, such as medical malpractice cases involving punitive damages.

Calculating damages in personal injury cases in Pennsylvania involves a complex interplay of factual evidence, legal principles, and most often, the use of expert testimony. At Cooper Schall & Levy, our experienced attorneys have a deep understanding of this process. We are committed to employing every available resource to ensure that our clients receive full and fair compensation for their injuries. 

Our expertise in gathering evidence, assessing damages, and presenting compelling arguments in negotiations and courtrooms is your advantage when it comes to securing the compensation you deserve.

Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Today

Seeking maximum compensation for your personal injury claim? Contact our highly skilled attorneys now. We are well-versed in every aspect of personal injury law in Pennsylvania and committed to fighting for a just resolution of your case for you and your family. We have an impressive record of successful outcomes and will charge you nothing until we win your case.