FAQ: Damages in Illinois Injury Cases

If you’ve been injured in Illinois, you may be wondering how damages will be calculated in your case. An Illinois personal injury lawyer can help you fight to get maximum compensation for your injuries, whether you’ve been hurt in a car crash, slip-and-fall, dog bite, or some other kind of accident.

What is the purpose of damages?

The purpose of damages is to make the injured party “whole,” meaning to try to put them un the same position they would have been in had the accident not occurred.  This is a somewhat complicated question because damages are calculated based on several metrics, and your case may qualify for more than one type of damages.

What types of damages are there?

Damages in a personal injury lawsuit fall into the following categories:

  1. Economic damages:  Economic damages are actual damages.  For example, if you have had to reduce your hours at work, or have been unable to work because of your injuries, economic damages include money to replace lost wages.  Economic damages also include money to cover medical bills for past and future care.  Things like hospital stays, clinic visits, surgeries, and rehabilitation would fall under past and future care.  Economic damages can also include things like lost earning capacity, and the cost of repair/replacement of your vehicle.
  2. Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages awarded to victims can includes compensation for things such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.  This type of damages seeks to compensate the injured party for damages that go beyond a strict measure of actual economic damages.
  3. Punitive damages:  Punitive damages include compensation for the additional emotional distress and suffering for an individual who has been injured due to someone else’s intentional, careless, or negligent behavior. Punitive damages are not common, and are only awarded when it is shown that the individual was engaging in extreme or outrageous behavior, usually a reckless disregard for the safety of others.

How are damages calculated?

       In making an offer on your claim, insurance companies use a formula that is commonly referred to as the “pain multiplier.” 

In reaching a dollar amount, they take the amount of your medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, future lost income, estimated future medical expenses, and the multiply them by a number, usually between 1.5 and 5. 

They then add in The multiplier number depends on the facts of your case, and if you try to negotiate without an attorney, your insurance companies will typically make an offer on the low end of the multiplier, or even below the amount of your actual medical bills. 

Keep in mind that they are not required to make a fair offer.  The insurance company doesn’t represent you, and they are not out to help you.  They are out to keep their bottom line as low as possible.  Having an Illinois personal injury attorney negotiate for you can help make the case that your multiplier should be higher based on your specific case, and increase the offer to something that you would not be able to get on your own.