How to Calculate Settlement Amounts

Personal injury settlements are rather difficult to negotiate, because insurance companies are for-profit businesses that do their best to reduce expenses. Thus the amount of an insurance company's first offer is likely considerably less than the amount they believe your claim is worth. For this reason, it is important to understand some of the basics of how to calculate a personal injury settlement amount.

Step 1

Calculate your medical expenses that can be supported by documentation. These include doctor bills, transportation to clinics and hospitals--including by ambulance--prescription and non-prescription drugs, and other expenses.

Step 2

Calculate your anticipated future medical expenses, if any. Your health care service provider should be able to help you with this.

Step 3

Calculate your indirect damages, such as lost wages and child care. Indirect damages include any tangible, quantifiable losses that would not have occurred but for the injury.

Step 4

List your general damages. These may include loss of a promotion or of an entire career, loss of ability to perform day-to-day tasks due to disability, loss of ability to have sex--known as "loss of consortium"--and physical and mental pain and suffering. As a general rule, losses that are intangible or difficult to quantify are classified as general damages.

Step 5

Add together your damages from Steps 1 through 3. These are your "special damages." Since juries tend to award general damages equal to 100 percent to 300 percent of special damages, calculate the amount of your general damages within this range, according to how serious these damages are. If your general damages cause you particular hardship, you may adjust this figure upward to as much as 500 percent of special damages.

Step 6

Add together your special and general damages to come up with a preliminary settlement amount.

Step 7

Check the website of your local county court to find recent damage awards for injuries similar to your own. This will give you an idea if your calculation is realistic or not. Adjust your calculation upward or downward as necessary.


  • Never attempt to negotiate a large personal injury settlement without the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.


  • Many personal injury attorneys will not require you to pay them anything unless they win the case, in which case they collect 30-40 percent of your settlement.



About the Author

David Carnes has been a full-time writer since 1998 and has published two full-length novels. He spends much of his time in various Asian countries and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images