Forensic Accountants Compute Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Actions

Quality assessments of economic losses for catastrophic injuries and fatal accidents

As an attorney, you’re quite familiar with the phrase, “No amount of money can truly compensate.” Yet, when it comes to severe personal injuries and wrongful death cases, money is at the heart of the case. A plaintiff attorney’s success in advocating for the client depends on securing a damage award that seems fair in light of all the facts. On the defense side, once it’s clear that the defendant is liable, the attorney must protect the client from an excessive damage award. But how does either side know what is fair? At North American Forensic Accounting, we provide expert litigation support for plaintiff and defense lawyers. We perform calculations of present and future losses, controlling for a range of factors that could affect the outcomes. When you retain NAFA for litigation support, you get clear, understandable reporting that can stand up to intense scrutiny. Our quality work can help you negotiate a timely, appropriate settlement. If your case goes to trial, our NAFA leaders can bolster your case with effective expert witness testimony on the financial aspects of the case.

Projecting future losses in PI and wrongful death cases

At first glance, economic damages in personal injury cases may seem straightforward and routine. This is generally true for losses already sustained, such as:

  • Property damage
  • Medical bills
  • Lost earnings from missing work

The plaintiff will have receipts, so getting a tally doesn’t require much detective work. Where economic losses become complicated is in calculating future losses. Due to an accident, a plaintiff might continue to need medical care and even personal care for years, if not a lifetime. There’s also the possibility that a plaintiff will be disabled and unable to work. That means lost future earnings as well. Future losses must be adjusted based on numerous factors to facilitate a reasonable calculation.

An injury might also force a person to make a career change. Take, for example, a woman beginning a career as a professional ballerina. She’s injured in a car accident and must have her foot amputated. What are her losses over a normal working lifetime? Some factors we must consider include:

  • Earning potential as a professional ballet dancer
  • Length of career
  • Ancillary income and post-career opportunities for a professional ballerina
  • Cost of training or education to pursue a different career
  • Earning potential in the different career

As for wrongful death cases, they might also contain future economic losses. In some states, family members can sue for financial support the decedent would have provided for dependents, as well as the market rate for services contributed in the home. These must be projected over the course of a normal lifetime.

The effect of economic loss calculations on pain and suffering awards

NAFA doesn’t attempt to estimate values for pain and suffering awards, but our work can impact those negotiations. Many insurers use a multiplier model for negotiating pain and suffering awards, such as:

  • Minor injury — One or two times the amount of economic losses
  • Moderate injury — Three or four times the amount of economic losses
  • Severe injury — Five times or more the amount of economic losses

Pain and suffering awards can be a significant part of any payout, so it’s especially important to have firm numbers for the economic losses.

Avoiding speculation in damage calculations

All good attorneys know that a court will not enforce damages that are “speculative.” Courts regularly reduce or void damage awards that do not have a firm basis in fact. NAFA helps avoid this pitfall by providing detailed, well documented assessments, and projections based on fully transparent, accepted accounting methods. Our reports are straightforward and easily understandable, and we are prepared to stand by our work as expert witnesses.

Contact NAFA for damage calculations for personal injury litigation

North American Forensic Accounting performs economic loss calculations for personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout the United States. NAFA serves clients from offices throughout the United States, including in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, and the Tampa Bay Area. Call us at 347-286-4860 or contact one of our offices online to schedule an appointment.