As hard as many insurance companies and lawyers try, it simply isn’t possible to put a monetary value on pain and suffering. Pain and suffering isn’t a commodity, and nobody is willing to purchase them.
But just because it can’t be bought or sold doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value — particularly in a lawsuit. Pain and suffering have significant value to the person who is suffering after an accident.
Determining that value is a complicated process, usually performed by insurance actuaries or lawyers. Insurance companies will try to determine a value that is as low as possible, while lawyers will try to determine a fair value based on how much their client is suffering.
Oftentimes, this value disagreement will play out in settlement talks or a lawsuit.
In a lawsuit, pain and suffering value may be the main dispute between both parties. If an insurance company is trying to offer you less than you deserve after an accident, you will need the assistance of a lawyer.
Accident attorneys from Morgan & Morgan have the tools to accurately determine what your pain and suffering are worth and will fight vigorously to get you the money you deserve in a lawsuit. Use our contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation after you’ve been injured in an accident.
Methods for Calculating Pain and Suffering Value
While it isn’t possible to objectively determine a value for pain and suffering, insurance companies have created consistent methods of finding that value.
Because each person’s pain and suffering are personal, these determined values aren’t always accurate. Still, this creates a starting point that is useful for settlement negotiations and lawsuits.
The first method that insurance companies use is the multiplier method. This method takes the total value of all damages you suffered and multiplies it by a value based on how severe your pain and suffering are. That calculated value is the amount of money the insurance company will offer you for your pain and suffering.
The value of the multiplier changes based on how bad your injury was and how consequential the suffering after the injury is. A broken arm, for example, is usually not very painful and only moderately interferes with your daily life.
However, a severed leg is much more painful, significantly makes your life more difficult, and is permanent. The multiplier for the latter would be much higher than the multiplier for the former.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method doesn’t take into account the damages you suffered. Instead, it attempts to apply an independent value to your suffering. Once that value is assigned, it then multiplies that value by the number of days you suffer after the accident.
For example, the per diem method might assign a $10 value to your pain and suffering after you break your arm. Then, it would multiply that value by the 60 days it took for you to recover from that injury, resulting in a $600 payment for pain and suffering.
However, for a severed leg, the insurance company might assign $50 to that injury and then multiply that by the estimated number of days remaining in your life. For someone who is 40 years old, that would approximately result in $500,000 of pain and suffering compensation.
Evidence for Your Lawsuit: Pain and Suffering
In any lawsuit, pain and suffering must be proven to convince a judge or jury. You can’t simply state that you were in pain and believe you deserve more money than the insurance company offered. You need to prove that you suffered due to an accident and that the suffering is significant.
This proof is primarily presented with expert testimony. An expert can provide evidence of how people with similar injuries suffered. By presenting these examples, an expert can convince a judge or jury of the following:
- Your pain and suffering were a consequence of your injury
- Your injury interferes with your ability to perform daily functions
- You are suffering pain that limits you physically or mentally
- The relative degree of the pain you are suffering
- The number of days that you are likely to suffer pain or be inhibited by the injury
- The number of days it will likely take for you to fully recover from the injury
- Daily activities that you are unable to perform or are limited in due to the injury
In order to win your lawsuit, your pain and suffering must be precisely defined based on how it interferes with your life. Examples of the effects of similar injuries on people in similar situations help define this when you have not yet fully experienced the pain and suffering.
The best way to find an expert who can help you is to hire a lawyer. Accident attorneys have connections with medical and workplace injury experts that are critical to your case.
Why You Need a Lawyer: Accident Injuries Are Underpaid by Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are always looking to pay as little as possible when a claim is made. And both methods for determining the value of pain and suffering allow for insurance companies to underpay.
An experienced personal injury lawyer understands how you are suffering after an accident and knows the value of that suffering. They will fight with the insurance companies to prevent you from getting less money than you deserve.
The biggest advantage you get when you hire an attorney is that they can accurately define what you will often have difficulty putting into words. You know that you are in pain and that pain interferes with your ability to perform daily activities, but you may not know how to say that in a legally compelling way. Your attorney does.
If the insurance company tries to undervalue that pain—either as a multiplier or as a per diem value—your lawyer can counter with a fair value. Furthermore, your attorney can precisely define how your injury is affecting you.
By using expert testimony, medical records, and similar documents, your lawyer will be able to describe something subjective in objective terminology that can then be compared to previous claimants and what they were awarded.