How Are Personal Injury Claims Calculated

Each and every day, people get hurt. It’s a sad fact, but a true one, with many innocent individuals hurt in auto accidents, workplace incidents, or something as simple as slipping and falling on a wet floor.

Countless injuries of all kinds occur in these ways and others, and they can vary in severity from relatively mild cases in which the affected individual isn’t too hurt to far more serious situations where severe medical issues result from the negligence or carelessness of others.

When this happens, many people consider filing a personal injury claim and trying to seek fair compensation for the pain and distress they’ve endured. There are a lot of questions associated with this process. 

Many people want to know how long the case will take, how much money they can get, and so on, and one of the most common questions is about how personal injury claims are calculated in the first place. 

How does an insurance company or jury work out how much money you deserve after getting hurt? This guide will help you understand.


No matter what sort of injury you suffer or how it happened, you’ll suffer some form of ‘damages’. Damages is a term used in insurance and legal circles to refer to losses of some kind, and there are two distinct types of damages for people to be aware of: special damages and general damages. 

Special Damages 

Special damages, also sometimes referred to as economic damages, are measurable amounts of money you lost and will lose in the future because of the negligence or recklessness of the party that caused your injury. Examples of special damages include things like medical bills, lost wages, transportation fees for your medical appointments, damaged or destroyed personal property, and costs for services you may need while incapacitated like housekeeping and childcare. 

General Damages 

General damages, meanwhile, are sometimes referred to as non-economic damages, and they’re a little vaguer in their definition. They’re essentially the incalculable losses you have endured and will continue to endure from a physical and mental standpoint. Examples of general damages include emotional distress, stress, depression, anxiety, loss of confidence, sleep loss, physical pains, and more.

Calculating Damages 

So how are the different types of damages calculated and how is it decided what your claim is worth? Well, the calculation process for special damages is relatively simple, as these kinds of losses have a clear financial value. 

Therefore, all that needs to be done is the process of working out how much money you’ve lost or had to spend in terms of your medical treatments, the property that was damaged or lost, the services you’ve required, and the wages you’ve missed out on collecting. 

The total amount of special damages is usually calculated first, and this is where the foundation of your personal injury claim is formed, so it’s vital to have bills and receipts for medical care and so on in order to generate an accurate sum. 

Calculating general damages is much more of a complicated affair, as there is no clear, objective dollar value for sensations like physical pain and mental trauma, and people can experience these sensations and emotions very differently. 

One person might be in an auto accident and suffer newfound phobias, loss of self-esteem, and insomnia, for example, while someone else in the same accident may not experience any of those same mental effects, but could have physical pain from whiplash or a fracture. 

Usually, general damages are valued at up to twice as much as the general damages, so if you want a rough estimate of your general damages, take the total calculation for special damages and double it. 

In some cases, however, general damages can be much higher, but it all depends on the specifics of the case, and this is where a personal injury attorney can prove to be so helpful in guiding you through the process and helping you get the compensation you deserve.

Final Word

The personal injury process is a complicated one, and many people head into the process with little to no experience or expertise, so aren’t sure what to expect, what to do, and how they should act in order to get the result they want.

Even something that may seem simple on the outside, like calculating the level of compensation you receive, is actually a very intricate and complicated process, and the specific payouts for each case can vary greatly, based on a wide number of circumstances. Having a lawyer by your side will help to make the process more understandable and less stressful.


  • heather

    This was interesting to read and sounds super complex thanks for sharing. This is one field that I would not care to work in.

  • Kate Sarsfield

    I was T-boned years ago by a girl on her way home from her granny’s funeral. It was witnessed and she was clearly at fault as she wasn’t wearing her glasses. Of course her lawyer played on the grief aspect and that she’d also been injured (despite the fact that she was back at work in the family pub that evening). It went on & on. I did get compensation (quite a lot in fact) but the lawyers certainly came out on top.

  • Roxann

    I had a personal injury claim a long long time ago. It was a night mare because I had never gone through anything like it before and my attorney wasn’t professional at all. If I ever go through anything like that again I am calling one of the lawyers they show on tv. They seem like they get the job done.

  • mami2jcn

    My husband was injured in a head-on collision in November of 2019. The case was just settled in December 2020. It was a very arduous process and we didn’t get the outcome we were hoping for. It’s very unfair to victims.

  • Tamra Phelps

    Fortunately, I’ve never had to consider injury claims and lawsuits. But, I’d definitely want a good lawyer if I had to!

  • Rosie

    We have a lawsuit at our complex for a slip and fall. It was on a winter icy storming day, early in the morning, someone 75. They are TERRIBLE about sanding the walkway in between storms. I asked two times recently, and they said they aren’t going to do anything special for the elderly. More slip and falls coming, probably.

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