Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.
If you are involved in an accident and suffer serious injuries, you may file a personal injury claim. As part of your claim, you may qualify for pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering damages are offered in addition to your general expenses (i.e., your medical bills, lost wages, travel costs, etc.).
Often, pain and suffering damages are the highest percentage of the compensation, because they are calculated by multiplying your computed damages with a multiplier to come to an amount for pain and suffering.
Putting a dollar amount on your physical and emotional pain is difficult, and you may wonder how an insurance company or an attorney does it. Before you can fully grasp the concept of calculating damages, you must understand what the courts see as “pain and suffering,” and how much a person could potentially collect.
Pain and suffering damages focus on the physical, emotional, and mental stress you experience because of your injuries.
These stressors you experience can include:
When you file for pain and suffering, these damages are in addition to lost wages, medical costs, and other injury-related expenses.
Pain and suffering damages are given to victims that have physical or mental pain. These “pains” must be connected to the original injury. More so, the injury must be the result of someone’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional malicious acts – mainly the elements required to initiate a personal injury case.
Most personal injury claims will include pain and suffering, because without pain and suffering, there may not be a valid claim.
Putting a monetary value on someone’s physical pain, anguish, and even mental suffering is complicated. It is one of the more difficult areas of personal injury law because both sides are arguing over the validity and cost of someone’s pain and suffering.
So, you may ask yourself how attorneys would know what a fair and reasonable settlement would be for pain and suffering – and how they put dollar values on your physical pain.
The answer is that there is not just one set method. The courts, insurance companies, and attorneys use a variety of methods – with two of the most commonly used methods being the multiplier and per diem approach.
Realize that attorneys and insurance companies are not obligated to use these methods. Sometimes insurance companies rely on software programs that determine the settlement based on numbers they enter relative to the case. These programs rely on sophisticated algorithms that not only consider your type of injury but medical treatments you sought for that injury.
Specific factors surrounding your injury, prognosis, and treatments received will also affect the calculated pain and suffering damages. Naturally, an injury that is permanent will have higher pain and suffering values than an injury where the victim fully recovers.
Some factors that will increase or decrease pain and suffering values include:
The insurance company might offer you a settlement that includes damages for pain and suffering. So, how would you know that what you have been provided is “fair” for your case?
A multiplier only gives a ballpark figure, or “jumping-off” point. It is also important to realize that when juries are computing what damages award they feel is fair, they do not use multipliers. This means that pain and suffering damages can vary greatly when you go to trial and a jury gets involved.
To know if a settlement is fair, your attorney will consider the following:
Punitive damages are a separate form of damages awarded in addition to general damages. Punitive damages are awarded when the conduct of the at-fault party was malicious, grossly negligent, or criminal.
The injuries you sustain in an accident can extend beyond the physical realm. You may suffer from trouble sleeping at night, depression, or post traumatic stress which can manifest in a wide number of ways. For instance, someone suffering from post traumatic stress may not even be able to get into a motor vehicle without a panic attack. These are all valid signs of suffering that go beyond the physical.
And while you might know the pain and suffering you’re experiencing, the judge and jury do not. Therefore, your attorney must use evidence to show that your claims are more than just words. The more evidence your attorney presents to create a complete picture of how your life has been negatively impacted, the more you will receive for pain and suffering.
Evidence your attorney will use to do this includes:
Accurately calculating pain and suffering requires someone that can separate the physical from the emotional value of your case. As a victim, you suffer everyday with everything from physical pain and limitations – to anger and depression. Asking you to value your injuries is impossible, and you should not be burdened with negotiating your pain and suffering with an insurance company.
An injury attorney from Malman Law can help.
Our advocates are here to fight for your right to compensation. We will ensure you receive a fair settlement for all of your damages. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today by calling our office at 888-625-6265, or by requesting your appointment online.