Using a Multiplier
In a case that does not involve serious or permanent injuries, and where fault is reasonably clear, accident settlement value is determined under this system by multiplying “specials” by somewhere between 1 1/2 and 4, depending on the circumstances of your case. “Specials” are the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by your car accident.
For example, if you received a neck injury in your car accident, incurred medical bills of $2,500 and missed a week of work, which cost you $1,000, your “specials” are $3,500. Depending on the other facts in the case, the accident settlement value of your claim is somewhere between $5,250 (1 1/2 times specials) and $14,000 (4 times specials).
How do you choose the multiplier? The multiplier that is used is a judgment that is made after considering all of the evidence in the case. These are some of the factors that affect the multiplier:
If the out-of-pocket monetary expenses are particularly high compared to the injuries, use a lower multiple, and vice versa.
The “Per Diem” Method
Another way to determine accident settlement value is to value your pain and suffering by giving it a “per diem” (per day) value and adding that value to your “special damages.” Using the same example, you had medical out-of-pocket expenses of $2,500 and lost income of $1,000, or total specials of $3,500. Assume further that you received treatment for a neck injury for three months and that, after you completed your treatment, you continued to have pain and stiffness in your neck for another two months. After that, you were fine. Using the per diem method for calculating accident settlement value, you assign an amount to each day (or week or month) that you suffered from your injuries.
Putting It All Together
The best advice may be to evaluate your claim both ways — multiple of specials and per diem — then apply common sense and determine what, under your particular facts, is a reasonable number for your pain and suffering claim.
State laws vary widely when it comes to car accident settlements and claims, and each claim has limitations and exclusions. If you get into even a minor car accident, you should contact The Law Offices of Dussault & Zatir to discuss your rights further.