Skip to navigation
Computer and notepad

How are damages determined in a personal injury claim?

Rubin and Zyndorf May 19, 2023

. If you are injured, you are entitled to recover money damages for all your losses and expenses associated with the injury.  Damages are broken down into two primary types with subcategories:    Compensatory, meaning to compensate for damages related to claims of Negligence, and Punitive, meaning to punish for outrageous conduct or willful disregard for the safety of others, conduct which cannot be tolerated by a modern society.  For the said our discussion, I will focus primarily upon Compensatory Damages, which is broken down into two sub categories:  economic and non-economic.  

Economic damages are those which are quantifiable in dollars and cents by paper documentation, including expert testimony, which reflects a monetary financial loss, both in the past, present and future. 

Non-economic damages are intangible in nature, and including pain and suffering, physical discomfort, anguish, emotional disturbance and trauma.   

Many factors determine the amount that can be collected, including:

  • The severity of the injury and degree of impairment and probable disability

  • The amount of the medical bills and future projected medical costs

  • The amount of time and money lost from work, past, present and future

  • Pain and suffering

  • Mental anguish

  • Disfigurement and permanent scars

  • Mental disability

  • Property damage

  • Loss of consortium and Loss of services for your spouse and children, both past present and future.

  • Other varied out-of-pocket and other related expenses

Q. How much is my claim worth?   

A.   The question of how much money your claim is worth is a subject of great controversy, speculation and debate.   It is generally impossible to say exactly how much money you are entitled to, save for the fact that you are entitled to something.  The amount you receive is dependent on a multitude of factors which I have outlined through our website, and others too numerous to mention. 

There is no exact formula, no mathematical equation, no theorem or construct which dictates exactly how much you will recover.  But, naturally, the more serious your injury, the greater the likelihood that your monetary award will be substantial. 


Some issues which bear directly on your claim for damages include:   The extent of applicable liability insurance;  the extent of applicable uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits; and the collectability of the at fault party.   Other facts include the at fault party’s believability, sympathy of the jury, educational and demographic background of the jury; prior prejudices of the jurors; your own prior health history; prior injury claims; your ability to communicate effectively; your own personal believability, and on and on.

Rubin Zyndorf will make every effort to locate sources of collectability so that your claim receives just and fair compensation  We will walk you through the process to make sure you understand what is happening, why it is happening and how it happened.   And, through the entire process, we offer our expert opinion regarding our own assessment of the probable outcome at trial.

Q.  Do I have a personal injury claim?

A.  We will tell you whether you have a viable personal injury claim.   You must have sustained a physical injury precipitated by someone else’s lack of care or negligence.  The work "negligence" is the term most often utilized to describe the actions of a person who departs from legal recognized standards of care, thereby imposing fault and ultimate responsibility for your damages.

We will advise you regarding all potential avenues for the establishment of negligence so that your rights are maximized.  And naturally, your contact with our office and initial consultation are always free to endure that you are above to adequately verify the viability of your claim.  

Q.  What if I am partially responsible for my injury, do I still have a claim?

A.   If an accident or injury was partially your fault, you may still be able to recover.  This is based upon the concept of “Comparative Negligence”.   This means that your negligence is weighed in the context of the other driver’s negligence.  If you are found to be 10% responsible, you can still be entitled to 90% of the resulting compensation.  By this process, you are receiving compensation for only that portion of the claim for which the other person is legal responsible.  You should allow us to evaluate your claim to determine your approximate level of responsibility, since only a Jury can ultimately put to rest your own percentage of negligence, and prior to the institution of a lawsuit, we may be able to present a scenario to the insurance carrier which establishes that the predominant degree of fault rests solely on the at fault driver, and not you, and that the risks associate with allowing the matter to proceed to trial justify an early negotiated settlement.

Q.  Do I need an injury lawyer?

A. If you obtain medical attention, you probably need our services.   Seriously injury always causes insurance carriers to ring the emergency siren and run up the red flag.  For them, it is akin to the President calling for immediate mobilization of the military.  They immediately order up their forces to perform damage control.  This means they will engage in procedures which seek to minimize and reduce the viability of your claim.  We provide a free, no obligation consultation so that we can listen to the war drums pounding and assess what action to take on your claim.  You have nothing to lose.

Q. How much will it cost for me to hire an attorney?

A.  All accepted cases are taken on a contingent fee arrangement.  This means that we do not receive any money unless there is a recovery.  It is simple.  We don’t get paid unless you get paid.  Our agreement is spelled out in plain language which anyone can understand.  As a result of the contingent fee agreement, we are joined at the hip with your claim and seek the best possible outcome. 

Q. Can I act as my own attorney?   

A.  Of course, you never have to retain the services of an attorney.  But, you would not be very wise to go-it-alone.  The system is much too complicated.  Even as educated as we are, attorneys are constantly asking questions and making fine distinctions and interpretations of law based upon the uniqueness of your case.

The law is not perfect.  It is codified by men who strive to regulate the conduct of men through the printed word.  Man is imperfect, so naturally, the law is imperfect.  The application of law to any state of facts is subject to considerable interpretation, just as the reader can provide inflection in his voice to emphasis important passages; and the listener can focus on particular words to give them more importance than others; the law is awash with internal loopholes, exceptions, contingencies and escape clauses which make it a living, breathing thing which cannot be adequately described in a written document.  When you have a problem, you seek out answers from those who are more knowledgeable than you.   Just like preparing a fine meal, the selection of spices makes the difference between a good meal and a great meal.

Think of Rubin-Zyndorf as you would a specialist doctor.  If you suffer an illness, you would first research the cause of your symptoms, consult with friends and experts and ultimately, defer to the expertise of the doctor.  A patient who acts as his own physician has a fool for a client, just as an individual you seeks to legally represent themselves has a fool for a client.  The field of injury litigation is simply much to complex for self representation.

Q.  Will my case have to go to trial?

A.   Most personal injury cases get settled out of court. But sometimes a settlement may not be possible, for a variety of reasons, first and foremost of which is the insurance carrier’s unwillingness to pay you a satisfactory amount for settlement.   If the proposed settlement doesn't offer what we think is justified by the facts of your case, we will proceed to file your lawsuit and prepare for trial.   In this event, you can expect a vigorous prosecution of your claim to its final conclusion.

Q. Why does it take so long to get my case resolved?   

A.   The court system is set up to administer virtually every imaginable type of dispute.  Thousands of cases get file yearly nationwide, so it is only natural that the system needs time to prioritize cases as they are filed to ensure that cases do not die-on-the-vine while waiting for a court date.  Cases are kept moving the judges who keep track of case development and monitor the progress on the claim.  Also, your injury in an ongoing process, so even as the matter proceeds to court, your physical condition can change, requiring more time for assessment, documentation and valuation.  Just as it takes time to heal, the court takes time to process your claim.  The reason for this is, that you only get one bite-of-the-apple, meaning, that when your case comes on for trial, this is the only chance you will get to secure a favorable award.  Also, you must bear in mind that doctors are many times reluctant to commit to a position until every possible alternative is explored.  If we attempted to settle your case prior to the conclusion of your medical treatment, it is entirely plausible that important aspects of your injury may not be discussed or compensated.  So, taking the time to adequately document your case is an important factor to consider as you proceed through your course of your medical recovery.

Your case will not be ripe for settlement until all your damages have been adequately quantified and all responsible parties are brought to account for their actions.  If a trial is the only method for ultimate resolution of your claim, it could take several years for you to finally learn the outcome of our efforts.  But, rest assured, we work as fast as possible under the circumstances of your claim to get the matter resolved in the shortest time period possible, bearing in mind that we don’t get paid until you do, so our interests are totally aligned in this regard.