All personal injury claims are not equal when the case is being negotiated. This is especially true in North Carolina because the state uses the antiquated contributory negligence law that allows insurance companies and negligent parties to claim no liability when the injured victim is even slightly at fault for causing any accident that results in their claimed injuries, which also means that all cases for drivers in auto accident claims will be whole damage claims just like injured passengers. However, each case is unique in some aspect that can result in variable claim value settlement amounts.
The initial elements of any personal injury claim are the special damages. They are termed \”special\” because they can be claimed in specified amounts using documentation showing exact dollar figures. They are financial recovery for medical bills, property damage, and lost wages when they apply. Also included can be necessary expenses for travel to and from medical appointments and therapy. This number can also impact the next step in determining a settlement.
General damages are the non-economic compensatory demands for ongoing problems resulting from the claimed personal injury. This amount is not necessarily supported by documentation other than the fact that the special damages can serve as a baseline for calculation when using the multiplier method in arriving at what would be an equitable settlement amount. The most effective evidence in determining the proper multiplier or per diem daily amount assignment is professional testimony from medical professionals and physicians who can provide a prognosis for the injury going forward.
The final calculation is made by adding both special and general damages amounts and assessing the potential for punitive damages if the case were to go to trial. The potential for an exponential punitive award can also encourage defendants to settle for a higher amount to avoid going to trial if they have no defense against the claim.