My 60-year old father was in a serious rollover accident while driving his SUV, and his leg was badly crushed. His doctor says it will be years before he can walk again. How will the value of his case be assessed? Is age a factor?

Pain Suffering Age Factors Injury Law

My 60-year old father was in a serious rollover accident while driving his SUV, and his leg was badly crushed. His doctor says it will be years before he can walk again. How will the value of his case be assessed? Is age a factor?

Your father’s accident was tragic and it is unfortunate that his recovery will be so long and arduous. The best our legal system has to offer him is financial compensation. Your father will be entitled to economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are usually easy to quantify, and cover such things as lost wages, medical bills, transportation costs, property damages, etc. Non-economic damages include inconvenience, and pain and suffering. There are also punitive damages, which could be assessed in this case if the manufacturer of the vehicle is found liable. Punitive damages are to punish the negligent party.

Your attorney will pour over the facts to determine who is responsible for the accident and sue the appropriate party or parties. Medical bills and doctors’ reports will be provided to the responsible parties. Your attorney may hire an economic expert to determine what your dad’s lost earning capacity will be, depending on whether or not he was still working at the time of the accident, and whether or not he will be able to one day work again. The responsible party’s attorney will likely take your dad’s deposition (testimony under oath) to find out more about him and to test his credibility.

Is age a factor? Absolutely, and here is how it applies. In general, and with all things being equal (which they rarely are), a 40 year old will have a more valuable case than a 60 year old simply because he has a longer work-life expectancy. Comparing two 60 year olds, employment vs. retirement is a key factor; the one who is employed has a higher value case assuming his employment will be impacted by the injury. Attorneys and economic experts use life expectancy tables and work life expectancy tables as tools to help them with these questions.

Beyond all of the economic damages, your father will be entitled to money for his inconvenience and his pain and suffering. This is not easy to quantify, and attorneys and insurance companies look to other similar cases to compare and contrast the facts of your case.

Since we don’t have all of the details about your father’s case, let’s look at a hypothetical case, and you will get an idea of how these types of injuries are valued. Suppose, for example, that the same injury occurred involving a 60-year-old retired mid-level business manager. He is unmarried and lives in a house. His attorney is suing the vehicle manufacturer and the other driver.

Economic Damages
Dr. bills to date $ 24,000
Ambulance$ 450
Hospital$ 31,000
Medicine$ 3,500
Future (est.) dr./rehab. bills$ 50,000
Future (est.) medicine$ 38,000
Lost wages/lost earning capacity $ 0
Home medical caretaker (est. 2 yrs.) $ 48,000
Gardener/housekeeper (est. 5 yrs.) $ 160,000
Potential total economic damages$ 354,950
Non-economic damages
Inconvenience, pain and suffering $550,000-$700,000
Total Settlement Range $900,000-$1.1 mil

This is an example of a possible calculation of a settlement based on fictitious facts and figures. Your individual case may vary from this substantially.

If you lived in Los Angeles, the amount might be significantly higher. If you lived in Jackson, Mississippi, it could be much lower. In addition, as indicated above, some states have put a cap on non-economic damages and the amount for inconvenience and pain and suffering would be limited.

For information on how to value your specific claim, and to find out if your state has a limit on non-economic damages, contact a personal injury attorney in your area.

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