Calculating Future Damages in Personal Injury Cases By Burke Argos on August 17, 2021

law book and judge’s gavelWhen people are injured in accidents that are caused by another person’s reckless or negligent actions, they have the right to pursue financial compensation for damages. A large portion of personal injury settlements are made up of “past” damages, or those that have already been suffered. But it is important to consider future damages as well.

Calculating future damages in personal injury cases is complex, because claims are often filed before a victim’s losses are fully known. Personal injury lawyers Sean M. Burke and Jason N. Argos know how to calculate future damages so that their Irvine, CA, clients can maximize compensation for the losses they have already suffered, as well as those they are likely to experience in the future.

What Are Future Damages?

The damages that are awarded in a personal injury case can generally be classified into two categories: past damages and future damages. 

Past damages refer to the losses that a plaintiff has suffered between the time of an accident and the time of the case filing (or trial). Past damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Past medical expenses and lost wages are easy to calculate, because it is as simple as gathering bills and pay stubs, and performing math calculations.

Future damages are more complicated, because they account for losses that have not yet been suffered. Future damages take into consideration the ongoing losses that are likely to stem from a long-term or permanent injury. 

Types of Future Damages

As with past damages, there are several categories of future damages that should be considered in a personal injury case. Depending on the extent of accident injuries, and their anticipated long-term effects, our Irvine clients may be due compensation for the following types of future damages:

  • Cost of ongoing medical care/treatment (doctor’s appointments, prescription medications, hospital stays, surgeries, assistive devices, etc.)
  • Lost income (for time off work for medical treatment or disability)
  • Diminished wage earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

Calculating Appropriate Compensation

There is no way to calculate exactly how much a person will suffer or how much financial hardship they will face in the future as a result of accident injuries. Instead, our Irvine lawyers rely on doctors and economic experts to make the most accurate estimates regarding future damages. 

Medical Costs

For future medical expenses, we rely on a client’s medical records and expert testimony to determine the type of care that is anticipated in the future, as well as what that treatment is likely to cost. For example, if a doctor recommends a future surgery, we calculate the cost of that surgery, along with the costs of any follow-up appointments, medications, etc., related to that surgery, and include that in future damages.

Income Losses

For lost income and diminished wage earning capacity, our lawyers work with economic experts to compare a person’s future wage earning capacity before an accident to anticipated earnings after an accident. So if a person’s job capacities are limited by accident injuries, they are due compensation to make up the difference between what they could have earned had the accident not occurred, and what they are able to earn now. We also consider any wages that may be lost as a result of time off work for ongoing medical treatment.

Pain and Suffering

Future pain and suffering damages are the most complex, because it is difficult to put a price tag on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. In most cases, pain and suffering damages are calculated by either multiplying the total amount of a person’s special damages by a number between 1.5 and 5 (depending on the severity of injuries), or by determining a per diem rate and multiplying that by the number of days an individual is likely to suffer from their injuries.

Learn More

Calculating future damages in a personal injury case is not easy, which is why it is important to work with knowledgeable lawyers who will look after your best interests. To find out more about your legal options following an accident, send us a message online, or call (949) 644-3434 and schedule a consultation with our lawyers.

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