In a personal injury lawsuit, your claim is generally based on two major elements: the actual damages, and damages for pain and suffering. Actual damages include your medical expenses; compensation for lost wages or income; compensation for loss of future earning capacity, for example in the case of disability; the cost of repairs to your damaged property or vehicle, or the market value of a vehicle damaged beyond repair. The actual damages can be determined by examining receipts, calculating the amount of lost work time, or estimating the value of lost earning capacity. In addition to the actual damages, your claim generally includes compensation for pain and suffering. To determine the amount of damages for pain and suffering, the insurance assessor starts with the amount of the actual damages and multiplies this by a certain figure, which is decided upon according to the seriousness of your injury. Once the assessor has arrived at a total claim value, a settlement proposal is made, based on this calculation. In many cases, the insurance company's assessor is empowered to negotiate the settlement amount within certain limits. If you and your attorney don't reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company's assessor, the case will generally proceed to court.