Calculating personal injury settlements is a task that confounds many individuals. While every case is unique, understanding how these calculations work under Missouri law can provide you with a rough estimate of what to expect from your settlement. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you understand how personal injury settlements are calculated in Missouri.
The Basics: Economic and Non-Economic Damages
There are two primary types of damages in personal injury cases in Missouri: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are financial losses, often quantifiable and evidenced by bills or receipts. They include medical expenses, lost wages, and any out-of-pocket costs related to the injury.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Calculating these damages is a more subjective process, and it generally involves considering the severity of the injury, the impact on the individual's life, and the pain and suffering the individual has endured.
The Role of Comparative Negligence in Missouri
Missouri follows a rule known as "pure comparative negligence" in personal injury cases. Under this rule, if you are partially at fault for your injuries, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were found to be 20% at fault for an accident, you could still recover 80% of your total damages.
Calculating Your Settlement: An Example
Let's assume you were involved in a car accident, incurred $10,000 in medical expenses, lost $5,000 in wages, and you estimate your pain and suffering to be worth $15,000. Your total damages would be $30,000.
However, if you were found to be 10% at fault for the accident, your recoverable damages would be reduced by 10%, or $3,000. Therefore, your potential settlement would be $27,000.
The Value of a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
The calculations above provide a rough estimate of your potential settlement. However, an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney can help you better understand the value of your claim, navigate the legal process, and negotiate with the insurance companies to ensure you get the settlement you deserve.