Personal injury victims can face many financial challenges and hardships due to their injury, such as steep medical bills, income losses, and various out-of-pocket expenses. However, not all damages are of a financial nature. Many victims also experience excruciating physical pain, ongoing emotional distress, and other non-monetary damages after a significant injury.
If you were recently injured due to another’s fault, you deserve adequate compensation for all your damages, not just the financial losses. However, determining what is a fair settlement for pain and suffering can be tricky without the support of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Morgan & Morgan has your back. We can fight for maximum possible recovery so you can rebuild your life. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free case review.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to various intangible injuries an individual could suffer due to an avoidable accident. Pain and suffering can refer to physical pain and the psychological effects of an injury, such as:
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Depression and anxiety
Depending on the severity and permanence of your physical injuries, you could recover a considerable amount in pain and suffering damages in addition to financial losses.
Non-Economic vs Economic Damages
Pain and suffering are so-called non-economic damages. These types of damages cannot be proven with receipts, nor do they have a set dollar amount attached to them. Placing a monetary value on emotional and physical suffering can be tricky and will depend on the accident, a victim’s prior lifestyle, and other factors.
Suppose you suffered a serious back injury in a car accident that results in ongoing pain. Before the accident, you were an avid runner who exercised daily and attended running events in your spare time. Now, constant pain no longer allows you to run or even go for long walks. Therefore, your life-enjoyment is now considerably reduced. While the loss is not monetary, and therefore “non-economic”, it can still be a huge blow and force you to change your lifestyle completely.
On the other hand, economic damages are intended to make a personal injury victim “whole” again financially after suffering an injury. These types of damages only cover the direct financial losses of the victim, such as:
- Medical bills
- Medical devices
- A home health aide
- Wage losses
- Transport costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
While personal injury victims could potentially file a claim for only pain and suffering damages, this is relatively rare. Typically, a plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) is hoping to recover pain and suffering compensation in addition to financial “economic” damages.
Examples of Physical and Emotional Pain and Suffering
Many types of mental and physical effects from a significant injury could qualify for a pain and suffering award, including:
Pain from severe injuries can be long-lasting and chronic, or even permanent and impact a victim for the rest of their life. Examples of common conditions that could qualify for compensation include:
- Back and neck pain
- Persistent headaches from a head injury
- Crushed or fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
- Musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains and strains
- Permanent paralysis
- Loss of a limb
- Loss of a sense such as eyesight or hearing
- Disfigurement and scarring
After surviving a traumatic accident, emotional distress can range from short-lived anxiety to debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Examples of emotional suffering include:
- Psychological trauma
- Panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping
- Fear of leaving the house
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Accident victims can suffer severe and ongoing psychological consequences after a significant injury and may need lifelong counseling and psychological care.
Pain and Suffering in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Close family members can suffer devastating emotional and financial consequences when a loved one dies unexpectedly in an accident. In some cases, family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to receive compensation for their financial losses and for the “loss of consortium” due to the premature death of their loved one. Examples of loss of consortium damages include:
- Loss of companionship (spouse or life partner)
- Loss of parental instruction and guidance (minor children)
- Loss of love and affection
- Loss of services and goods the deceased provided
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
Calculating pain and suffering can be tricky and somewhat subjective. Generally, attorneys use one of the following two methods to arrive at a figure for non-economic damages:
The Multiplier Method
The most common way to calculate a fair settlement for pain and suffering is the multiplier method. With this approach, all economic damages, such as medical bills, wage loss, and other expenses, are added up and then multiplied by a factor between 1.5-5.
The exact figure used as a multiplier will be determined by the scope and permanence of the victim’s injury. For example, if you suffered catastrophic injuries that may require lifelong care and ongoing medical expenses, the multiplier used will likely be closer to 5. On the other hand, if you were injured but are expected to recover fully in a few weeks, a lower figure will be used to calculate your pain and suffering.
It is important to note that the degree of fault of the responsible party can also impact the multiplier figure used to calculate your non-economic damages.
The Daily Rate or “Per Diem” Method
The “per diem” method, although less common, could also be used to calculate the value of your pain and suffering in a lawsuit. This approach assigns a dollar amount to each day that you suffered pain and suffering due to your accident injury. The daily rate is generally calculated based on the victim’s daily wages.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, while challenging, is crucial for recovering what you deserve. However, pain and suffering can be highly subjective, with variations between individuals with similar injuries. Therefore, calculating your own damages can be tricky. Our seasoned personal injury attorneys can calculate your personal injury damages, ensure you are not leaving money on the table, and fight for what you deserve.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Proving emotional and physical pain can be complex. However, you could use a variety of evidence such as medical reports, statements from family members, photographs, and others to prove your pain and suffering.
Evidence for Pain and Suffering
An essential piece of evidence proving the extent of your pain and suffering will be your testimony. You will be asked to describe the impact the injury has on your life, including the physical pain and emotional distress you are suffering.
Statements from Family Members and Friends
Statements from your closest family members and friends can give the jury an understanding of the personal injury on your physical and emotional well-being. Friends and family can offer an insight into how your life and personality may have changed after you suffered the injury.
Medical Records and Physicians’ Statements
Medical records can be crucial for proving your non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Such records frequently include notes on how the patient is feeling or provide a space for the patient to rate their pain on a scale of one to ten. Prescription records stating the amount of pain relief required can help prove physical pain. Physicians’ statements can also provide useful evidence.
Evaluations and reports from psychologists, psychiatrists, or other mental health professionals can be essential to support a claim for pain and suffering.
There is some truth to the phrase that a photograph is worth a thousand words. Photos of your injury after an accident and during recovery can show a jury the extent of suffering and pain you experienced.
One of our personal injury attorneys can help gather the relevant evidence required to fight for a fair settlement for pain and suffering. In addition, our attorneys can provide medical expert witnesses to testify in court on your behalf.
Personal Injury Cases That Could Result in Pain and Suffering Settlements
Most types of personal injury claims could result in an award for pain and suffering, including but not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Slips and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
- Dog bites
- Defective products or drugs
- Assaults and attacks
- Nursing home abuse
Morgan & Morgan’s Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Timely action can be crucial for getting what you deserve, especially as you do not have forever to file your lawsuit and receive compensation. In some states, the deadline for filing a suit can be as short as a year. Contacting us as soon as possible can be advantageous. If you have a case, our attorneys can get to work immediately and begin to build a comprehensive case against the defendant.
If you have trouble getting a fair settlement for pain and suffering from an insurer, let us handle them. We can negotiate for a fair out-of-court settlement covering all your economic and non-economic damages. If the insurance company refuses to play nice, we can take them to court and continue to fight aggressively for what you need to go on with your life.