Calculating your personal injury compensation in Montana can be broken down into several factors which include:
- Attorney’s fees
- Economic or Special Damages-past and future medical expenses, past, and future lost earnings/earning capacity, and past and future loss of household services Non-Economic or General Damages-past and future physical and emotional pain and suffering and past and future loss of established course of life/enjoyment
- Fault-Total compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault in causing your injuries
This article will help you get a general idea of what your personal injury compensation could be. It is not, however, meant to give any definite numbers. There are unique factors in each individual injury lawsuit that can influence the amount of your compensation.
Contact a Montana personal injury lawyer for a more accurate estimation of your personal injury compensation.
Calculating Your Personal Injury Compensation
To calculate your personal injury compensation you add together your economic or special damages and noneconomic or general damages minus costs/expenses and attorney’s fees incurred in handling your case. Combined this provides an estimate of your total settlement. If you are found at fault for causing your injuries, the amount of your settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are found more than 50% at fault for causing your injuries, you are barred from receiving any compensation for your accident-related injuries and damages.
We talk more about how fault factors in later in the article. First, let’s discuss how to determine your economic and noneconomic damage compensation.
How To Calculate Your Economic Damages
Your economic or special damages are the sum of the damages, expenses, and losses incurred as a result of your personal injury. In short, they are:
- Property Damage
- Loss of use of your vehicle
- Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Expenses
- Lost Income
- Future Lost Income
Property damage is damage done to personal property, most commonly damage done to your vehicle. Under Montana law, you are entitled to recover the cost to repair the damage to your vehicle, or in the event your vehicle is totaled, the “actual replacement value” of the vehicle at the time of the accident. An experienced Montana auto accident injury lawyer will help to ensure you maximize the amount of your property damage recovery.
Other than vehicular damages, personal property damage is rare for workplace injuries.
Loss of Use of Your Vehicle
Under Montana law, when your vehicle is damaged in an auto accident caused by the negligence of another party you are entitled to recover loss of use damages for as long as it takes to repair the damage to your vehicle, or in the event your vehicle is totaled, the reasonable amount of time it takes to find a replacement vehicle. You are entitled to recover loss of use damages of a comparable vehicle regardless of whether a rental car is obtained. Loss of use damages can result in large recoveries for individuals involved in auto accidents, and it is critically important that you retain an auto accident attorney who is well versed in forcing insurance companies to pay the full value of the loss of use claim.
Medical Expenses & Future Medical Expenses
A seasoned personal injury attorney will recommend that the first thing to do after a workplace injury and/or auto accident injury is to seek medical attention. In addition to protecting your health, this also provides a record of proof of injury which is something insurers heavily consider in determining the extent of your damages. Seeking immediate care can be used as evidence of the severity of your workplace and/or auto accident injury. It also provides a record of days in pain/suffering, which is used in calculating noneconomic damages.
You will also want to save any medical bills acquired, as well as any quotes for future care or expected treatments. Calculating your economic damages includes both your past and future medical expenses.
Under Montana law, you are entitled to recover the total amount of the billed charges from your medical providers, regardless of whether any portion of those bills has been paid by your health insurer or workers compensation insurer at a reduced rate. In order to avoid paying the full amount of the claim, insurance companies routinely argue that a workplace and/or auto accident injury victim is only entitled to recover the reduced amount paid by the victim’s health insurer or workers compensation insurer. However, that is directly contrary to Montana law which is why it is imperative that you hire a workplace and/or auto accident injury attorney who is very familiar with the illegal tactics employed by insurance companies with regard to the recovery of medical expenses.
Future Medical Expenses
In determining the value of future medical expenses, you include the estimated costs of treatments that will be required which include physical therapy, pain management, surgery, prescription medications, and nursing care The costs will often be calculated by a certified life care planner and reduced to present value by an economist.
Lost Income & Future Lost Income
If you are entitled to workplace injury and/or auto accident injury compensation in Montana you can collect past and future lost earnings and/or lost earning capacity as a result of your injury. Lost earning capacity is different than actual lost earnings in that it calculates an injury victim’s decrease in ability to earn income as opposed to the amount of income actually lost. The amount of an injury victim’s claim for past and future lost earnings/lost earning capacity will be reduced to present value by an economist.
Lost income covers the wages you have lost as a result of injury so far. That covers lost income throughout the healing period, not just while at the hospital.
Add the total lost income from each day of work that has been missed. Even if time-off benefits or vacation days are used you calculate them as unpaid days.
Future Lost Income
Sometimes a workplace and/or auto accident injury can keep you away from work for an extended period of time. Severe injuries, like some of the most common workplace construction accidents and/or auto accidents can result in months of therapies and/or missed work. Future lost income includes both missed work during recovery or as a result of treatment and care for the injury.
How To Calculate Your Noneconomic Damages
Noneconomic or general damages are harder to calculate than economic or special damages. Most simply put, these damages exist to account for physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of established course of life/enjoyment. Noneconomic damages are primarily based on the severity of the injury and the negative impact that injury and associated pain has and will have on the injury victim’s life, both physically and emotionally.
In a workplace injury and/or auto accident injury lawsuit, the insurance adjuster and/or attorney hired by the insurance company will heavily dispute the amount of noneconomic damages that you and your personal injury lawyer maintain are reasonable to compensate you for your accident-related injuries. Having medical providers, friends, and family members ready to testify as to the terrible impact that your injuries have had on your life is essential to proving your claim for noneconomic damages.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure you and your family get the compensation you deserve in a workplace injury and/or auto accident injury case. The workplace injury and auto accident lawyers at Hoyt & Blewett PLLC have been responsible for obtaining some of the highest recoveries for injured workers in Montana. These include:
- Roger v. Howell ~ $330,000.00
- Olson v. Shumaker Trucking ~ $940,296.00
- Gilchrist v. Cooper Construction, Inc., et al. ~ $1,400,00.00
- Ginn v. Smurfit-Stone~ $3,970,000.00
How Fault Affects Compensation
After combining your economic and noneconomic damages, there is one more factor in calculating injury compensation – fault. The amount of your settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are found more than 50% at fault for causing your injuries, you are barred from receiving any compensation for your accident-related injuries and damages
Individual states fall into one of three fault categories:
- Modified Comparative Negligence
- Contributory Negligence
- Pure Comparative Negligence
Modified Comparative Negligence States
Montana is a Modified Comparative Negligence state. This falls in the middle of the three categories. What this means is that damages are diminished in accordance with the percentage of fault attributed to the injured party. In the event that your attributed fault is over 50% you are unable to recover damages.
This is why your personal injury lawyer always recommends that you do not admit any fault during negotiations. The burden of accusing you of fault, and of proving said accusations, falls upon the insurer’s side.
Contributory Negligence States
Contributory negligence states are the most restrictive in terms of preventing workplace injury and/or auto accident victims from recovering money damages. Even if 1% of fault is attributed to the injured party, damages cannot be recovered.
Pure Comparative Negligence States
A pure comparative negligence state is the least restrictive in terms of preventing a workplace injury and/or auto accident injury victim from receiving compensation. As long as the injury victim is not 100% for causing his or her injuries, he or she is entitled to recover money damages. That being said, those damages are reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the injury victim.
Hire A Montana Personal Injury Lawyer For Maximum Compensation
A workplace injury and/or auto accident injury can cause emotional, physical, and financial strain on you and your family. Hiring a personal injury lawyer reduces this strain by getting you the compensation you need to recover and maintain your lifestyle. At Hoyt & Blewett we have a track record of maximizing compensation for injury victims. Contact the personal injury law firm Hoyt & Blewett PLLC today.