How Are Settlement Amounts Calculated?
There are a variety of losses that a plaintiff may recover in their suit. Before settlement can be productive, the amount of a plaintiff’s recoverable losses must first be calculated. Pain & suffering damages are recoverable in a personal injury case, but not in a contract or property loss case. Attorney fees and costs of court are recoverable in contract and property damage cases, but not in personal injury cases. In a settlement scenario, the winning party negotiates for enough to cover their attorney fees.
Property Damage Valuations
It’s usually pretty straightforward to figure out the value of property damage. To do this, you look at the market value of the asset before it was damaged and compare that to its market value after the incident. Whether it’s a house, a car, or some other type of tangible item – as long as you know or estimate what it was worth before and after, you can calculate the damage pretty easily.
The same goes for a condemnation lawsuit against a piece of real estate. If, for example, a house is condemned by the city or pipeline company in order to use it as a right of way, the market value of the property would be different than if it were being used as an overhead power line by an energy company. The property owner can recover for the value of property lost to the condemnation and the effect on the remainder of his real estate.
The Role Of Expert Valuators
Valuation experts play an important role by providing testimony that helps to determine the value of a piece of real estate, or the value of a business, or the value of a unique item (such as antiques). This value is then used by the mediator or the jury to make decisions on damages. These experts are experienced in valuing all sorts of property, from houses to machines and equipment, to business operations (such as dental or medical offices).
It is not normally within the realm of a jury’s expertise to calculate damages sustained in an accident. They must instead rely on the testimony of experts. And it is up to the jury to decide if the expert witness is credible and whether or not their testimony should be believed. The jury is then tasked with evaluating the testimony and evidence to determine an appropriate damage award. This system allows for great discretion on the part of the jury, as they can award any amount they see fit.
Medical billing is a complex and ever-changing field, so it’s no surprise that expert testimony is often necessary to determine damages in court cases. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff’s attorneys and expert witnesses will need to show:
- The treatment rendered;
- The cost of that treatment;
- How much was written off;
- How much was paid by insurance;
- How much was actually paid by the plaintiff;
- How much is still owed by the plaintiff;
- And more…
This information is important because it helps to assess the damages that the plaintiff has suffered and provides a basis for awarding compensation.
Finally, jurors will usually hear from medical professionals about the future cost of care and what has already been spent on treatment. This allows them to make a more informed decision about how much money the responsible party should be required to pay.
Medical experts play another important role when it comes to punitive damages. It is not uncommon for an expert witness to testify about the future medical costs through a life care plan, or about an altered mental state of the plaintiff suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a catostrophic injury to theirs arms, legs, back, hands, feet, etc. This kind of testimony can be used by the jury to help determine an award for punitive or non-economic damages.
Finally, the plaintiff would testify about their mental state after the accident, how it has affected them, and what they could do before the accident compared to now. They can talk about things they did with their family or friends before the accident vs. what they can’t do now; whether it was fishing, playing games, or just interacting with loved ones. A plaintiff could also discuss how much help they need around the house now compared to what tasks they used to be able to do independently.
For more information on Civil Claims Law in Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 714-0073 today.
We Offer Free Consultation For
IP Infringement And Plaintiff Personal Injury Cases
Call For A Consultation (713) 714-0073