It is common for personal injury victims to seek damages following an incident. While compensation for medical bills or lost wages are often straightforward to determine, compensation for pain and suffering damages can be much more difficult. Each individual’s experience of pain and suffering can vary greatly.
Read on as we look into some pain and suffering settlement examples, as well as how pain and suffering damages are calculated. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the varying factors in a pain and suffering lawsuit.
Pain and Suffering Defined
In the legal world, pain and suffering refer to the physical or emotional stress associated with an injury suffered by a victim. It deals with the loss of happiness, opportunity, or quality of life due to an accident.
Pain and suffering damages do not include easily measurable damages, such as your medical expenses, loss of wages, or cost of recurring treatments. Rather, it deals with the more subjective areas of pain and your perception of pain.
Quantifying pain and suffering can be a challenge. Lawyers and insurance companies will look at a variety of factors to decide on the settlement value.
A common question that gets asked is “does PIP cover pain and suffering?” No, PIP does not cover pain and suffering. Pain and suffering claims can typically be covered under bodily injury or uninsured/underinsured motorist automobile insurance coverage.
Examples of Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages can fall into two categories: physical and emotional.
- Physical pain and suffering: Physical pain is relatively easy to identify immediately after an accident. A laceration, broken bones, fractures, etc. can cause pain lasting for days, weeks, or even months after the incident. Back/neck pain, muscle pain, dislocation pain, nerve damage, or headaches are typical examples of physical pain.
- Emotional pain and suffering: An injury causing emotional distress can include things like a reduction in the quality of life, psychological trauma, stress of a disability, embarrassment, or other cognitive changes.
The courts do not have a set list of what constitutes pain and suffering damages. It is the job of the jury to assess the legitimacy and extent of the victim’s pain and suffering.
Special vs. General Damages
Two main categories of damages are sought after in personal injury cases: special and general damages.
Also known as economic damages, special damages are quantifiable damages meant to compensate the victim for the harm inflicted on them. Coming up with a monetary sum for the harm caused should be relatively easy. Special damages can include things like:
- Past and future medical bills
- Replacement value of damaged property
- Past and future loss of wages
Juries will award damages that are difficult to quantify or non-monetary in nature for harm suffered by personal injury victims. Pain and suffering would fall under the umbrella of general damages or non-economic damages. Other examples of general damages would include loss of consortium, loss of companionship, loss of mental or physical abilities, or loss of reputation.
How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth?
How much is pain and suffering worth in a lawsuit? There is no one universal way to calculate pain and suffering. Insurance adjusters look at numerous factors when deciding on a settlement value. However, two methods that injury attorneys or insurance adjusters may utilize to help quantify pain and suffering is the “multiplier” method and the “per diem” method.
- Multiplier method: This method calculates your compensation by taking the total of all your special damages and multiplying it with a number, typically ranging from 1.5 to 5. Your multiplier will depend on a host of factors relating to your pain and suffering, such as the severity of the accident, how much your injuries impact your day-to-day activities, or how long the recovery will take.
- Per diem method: Also known as the ‘daily rate’ method, this approach takes a certain daily dollar amount as the basis for your compensation. This daily rate then gets multiplied with however long you’ll need to endure the pain of your injuries for. Again, your daily rate will depend on the severity and nature of the accident.
Proving Pain and Suffering
As you can probably sense from the two methods of calculating pain and suffering, coming up with a reasonable settlement can be subjective. For instance, when using the multiplier method, how do you demonstrate your pain and suffering deserves a 5 multiplier rather than a 1.5? In the per diem method, how do you justify a daily rate of $100 rather than, say, $5?
While there are no hard concrete ways to prove pain and suffering, the courts or insurance companies will take into consideration some of the following factors:
- Credibility of plaintiff’s testimony
- Severity of injuries
- How the injuries will affect quality of life
- Medical records
- Testimony of physician
- Testimony of friends and family
Seek Legal Counsel
Given the subjective nature, seeking damages for pain and suffering is no easy task. Each individual is unique in how they deal with and handle pain. Moreover, each individual inhabits different life circumstances such that a similar injury sustained between two people could drastically differ in how they’re impacted.
That’s why it’s important always to seek legal counsel when involved with pain and suffering damages. A qualified attorney will assess your case and have a good understanding of how much you can get from pain and suffering in a lawsuit or insurance claim.
They’ll help you come up with an objective testimony based on facts and how the injury has affected your quality of life. An experienced personal injury attorney will also know the key factors insurance companies utilize in their pain and suffering calculators. Seeking legal counsel will give you the best chances to maximize the settlement value for the pain and suffering you are experiencing.
If you’ve suffered an injury due to an accident, you may be entitled to pain and suffering compensation.
Valiente Mott is a Las Vegas personal injury attorney firm dedicated to helping victims recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to learn about the pain and suffering damages you can reasonably expect, and what legal options you have available to you. Our consultation is free, and you only pay if we win the case!
Valiente Mott is a law firm dedicated to helping personal injury victims. We handle all personal injury matters, including, but not limited to, car crashes, defective products, and catastrophic injury. We are compassionate, yet aggressive when protecting personal injury victims and families who lost loved ones in fatal accidents. Learn more about who we are.
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