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How Are Personal Injury
Settlements Calculated?

United States residents experienced 55.4 million injuries and 200,955 preventable deaths in 2020. Although accidents happen in a split second, they can result in life-changing bodily injuries and financial devastation.

The personal injury attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm understand the challenges personal injury victims in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York face. We are dedicated to helping injured victims access medical treatment, alleviate financial stress, and restore their lives.

What types of damages can I claim in personal injury cases?

There is no formula for calculating damages in personal injury cases. Every case is unique, and several factors must be considered, including:

  • The extent and type of injury
  • Prognosis and future medical expenses
  • Where the injury took place
  • How the injury occurred
  • Determination of fault
  • Total financial losses

At The Lanier Law Firm, we aggressively advocate for you to receive substantial compensation. The recovery amount will depend on factors such as the type of personal injury case, insurance coverage limits, and collectible assets of the responsible parties.

The three types of damages available are economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages, also known as special damages, are tangible monetary losses that include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Cost of ongoing medical care
  • Property damage
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of business opportunities
  • Value of services lost (such as homemaking)

In some cases, your attorney can negotiate with medical providers to reduce your medical costs and increase your net compensation.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, sometimes called general damages, are subjective damages that cannot be measured by a monetary value. Insurance companies may try to use a multiplier method, such as 1.5 to 5 times your total compensatory damages. However, these damages should be calculated individually. Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional Distress

California and Texas statutes limit the general damages you can receive in cases of medical malpractice.

  1. California law limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $250,000.
  2. Texas law limits non-economic damages to $250,000 per claimant per institution (up to $500,000 total per claim) and $250,000 total against healthcare providers.

New York has no such limits.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are awarded as a punishment and deterrent in cases of malice, fraud, and reckless behavior.

Texas law limits punitive damages to $500,000 in cases of medical malpractice. In all other cases in Texas, exemplary damages are capped at the greater of:

  • $200,000
  • The total of the non-economic damages up to $750,000 plus two times the economic damages

Neither California nor New York place limits on punitive damages. However, the Supreme Court ruled in State Farm vs. Campbell that punitive damage awards should be reasonable and proportionate to compensatory damages.

What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence laws determine whether you can receive compensation when you share fault in an accident. Texas statutes bar compensation if you are more than 50% at fault. New York and California allow you to receive compensation regardless of your percentage of fault, even up to 99%.

justice statue
justice statue

Types of Personal Injury Claims

Here are some of the most common personal injury cases we handle.


Automobile Accidents

Compensation in a car accident case most frequently comes from insurance companies.

New York requires drivers to carry no-fault insurance, also known as personal injury protection (PIP), in addition to the required liability and uninsured motorist coverage. Accident claims are first filed with the PIP and then with additional coverage plans if PIP does not cover all the losses.

Texas drivers are required to carry liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. No-fault PIP insurance is optional.

California drivers are required to carry liability insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage is optional. Uninsured California drivers are not eligible to recover non-economic damages if they are injured by an at-fault insured driver unless the at-fault driver was drunk driving.

Insurance recovery is limited to the coverage limits provided in the policy. This may be insufficient to cover your losses. In this case, you can seek compensation from the responsible parties.

An experienced car accident lawyer can identify other responsible parties, such as the vehicle or parts manufacturers. In auto accidents involving commercial vehicles, the trucking company may be held liable. Identifying all liable parties can increase your car accident settlement amount.


Workplace Injuries

Injuries in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation, which covers economic losses, including lost income, permanent or temporary disability, medical expenses, and death benefits for surviving family members. Workers’ compensation does not cover non-economic losses.

You do not have to prove employer negligence to collect workers’ compensation. Some employers resist paying workers’ compensation and try to claim employee fault for the injuries. You have the right to hire a personal injury lawyer to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim.

Employers in California and New York are required to carry workers’ compensation. Texas law does not require it, but carrying workers’ compensation protects Texas employers from liability, except in cases of gross negligence.

Construction sites and oilfields are especially hazardous job sites. Our law offices have extensive experience with construction accidents and injuries in the oilfield. We can identify gross negligence by employers and opportunities to hold outside parties liable, including manufacturers of defective equipment and premises owners.


Defective Drugs and Medical Devices

Drugs and medical devices are supposed to bring healing, but too often they are defective and cause serious injury. These cases affect scores of victims. To prevent congestion in the court system and speed resolution for victims, these cases may be assigned to multidistrict litigation or class-action lawsuits.

Class-action lawsuits combine multiple cases, and the victims split the compensation. Multidistrict litigation cases are assigned to one court but remain separate.

The Lanier Law Firm is a pioneer in medical device and pharmaceutical liability cases. We have an extensive record of success, having won some of the largest verdicts in history.

Medical Malpractice

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with 250,000 to 440,000 deaths annually. Medical malpractice can occur through misdiagnosis, medication errors, lack of communication, and systemic issues. Medical malpractice cases are often complex processes requiring specialized knowledge of medical jargon, medical charting practices, and anticipation of future medical needs.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a tragic circumstance that causes families emotional damage and financial disaster. Compensation is based on the pecuniary value of the decedent’s life, which is calculated by considering their earning potential, the value of services they provided, their life expectancy, and their general state of health before the incident. Wrongful death personal injury laws pertaining to non-economic and punitive damages vary by state.


Non-economic damages recoverable under California law include such damages as loss of companionship and support, but damages relating to the mental anguish or pain and suffering of the family are not recoverable. Punitive damages are only recoverable if the death is the result of homicide.

California §377.30 establishes a survival of action that allows families to file claims on behalf of the decedent that they could have filed had they survived, whether related to the injury or not. These damages include punitive damages but exclude non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. A new law, SB 447, allows families to claim pain and suffering damages on behalf of the deceased in limited circumstances.

New York

New York law allows families to claim non-economic damages, excluding mental anguish and grief. Families also receive interest on economic damages commencing on the date of death. Families can claim punitive damages on behalf of the decedent if such damages would have been recoverable had they survived.


Texas law allows families to recover non-economic damages, including mental anguish and pain and suffering of the family, plus punitive damages. Families can file survival actions on behalf of the deceased and recover any damages that could have been recovered by the deceased had they survived.

What is the time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit?

The statutes of limitations vary by state as follows:


  • Personal injury – two years
  • Medical malpractice – one year from the date the malpractice became known or should have been known, or three years from the date of injury, whichever is earliest, with a required 90-day notice prior to filing a claim

New York

  • Personal injury – three years
  • Wrongful death – two years
  • Medical malpractice – two years and six months from the date of injury

Texas – two years for most cases

It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to allow sufficient time to build your case and ensure you meet all necessary deadlines.

Do I need a personal injury attorney to negotiate my settlement?

Negotiating a personal injury settlement amount requires legal advice, an understanding of the true costs of your injuries, negotiation skills, and access to resources such as expert witnesses. Insurance companies pay insurance adjusters to reduce compensation or avoid compensating the victims of personal injury cases. Adjusters may be friendly, but they are not your friends. They represent insurance companies.

You need a savvy professional to represent you. The Lanier Law Firm has decades of experience and a vast network of resources with more than sixty dedicated attorneys in New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston. With The Lanier Law Firm on your side, you level the playing field and set yourself up for success. Our lawyers are well-known throughout the country for incredible case results.

We have offices in the following locations for your convenience:


10940 W. Sam Houston
Parkway North
Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77064 (713) 659-5200

New York City

535 Madison Ave

New York, NY 10022

(212) 421-2800

Los Angeles

2829 Townsgate Rd.
Suite 100
Westlake Village, CA 91361
(310) 277-5100

Schedule a free case evaluation today with The Lanier Law Firm by calling (713) 903-7314 or by completing our convenient online form.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are answers to the most common questions we receive about personal injury compensation.

Injury settlements vary widely based on the case type, location, extent of injuries, and multiple other factors. There is no average settlement amount, but settlement amounts are generally higher in cases with clear and convincing evidence of negligence, substantial and permanent injuries, and competent attorney representation.

Always direct the opposing party or anyone representing the opposing party to your attorney. Anything you say to the opposing party could be used against you. Most importantly, never admit fault to anyone, and never sign documents or verbally agree to any settlement without your attorney present.

Settlements are often advantageous to all parties involved because they remove the uncertainties of a trial and result in a speedier resolution of the case. However, if the at-fault party will not agree to a fair and reasonable settlement offer, a trial may be a better option.

Your attorney will receive your funds and distribute them to you after paying expenses, such as medical bills. Settlements may be paid as monthly annuity payments or as a one-time lump sum depending on the terms agreed upon during negotiations.

It could take several months to receive your settlement. The time frame will depend on the type of case, the length of settlement negotiations, your settlement value, whether you are receiving an annuity or a lump sum, and the payment processing procedures of the insurance company or responsible party.

The attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm not only offer a free consultation but also operate on a contingency fee basis. This means we do not charge any attorney fees unless and until we win and collect compensation on your behalf. We deduct our fee from your payout.

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