Automobile crashes and other forms of personal injury accidents have been long-lasting physical, mental, and financial consequences. Most victims continue to live in fear for the rest of their lives and others don’t get to live at all (wrongful death), no matter how one looks at such incidences, they are extremely tragic and very stressful. How much can I get from pain and suffering?
While most people can easily keep tabs on the financial losses they have to sustain due to such events, the non-economic damages are just as important although not as easily justified. These include the pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, that the victim had to go through.
Pain and suffering are not a numerical quantity, they can’t be seen, neither felt by anyone else, and there is no way to describe them exactly. But an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you get fairly compensated for all of your losses, including the pain and suffering.
This article will mostly stick to this non-economic component of the compensation.
Types of Damages In Any Accident
Personal injury settlements are split between compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. These two are very different in nature and are hence subject to differential treatment from the insurance company. The former covers all forms of financial drains that either resulted directly due to an accident or were an indirect consequence of the said accident.
These include all the medical expenses, loss of income, loss of earning potential in the long-term (partial or complete), property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, and assorted financial drains. All of these can easily be accounted for by holding onto records, receipts, and bills.
However, the same is not the case with the latter type of damages which also demand compensation. Non-economic damages, though nothing less in intensity than the other kind, are not that easy to show or prove. While some degree of credibility can be added to the bodily injury claim of an accident victim through the medical bills and records, the exact extent of pain is something that only the said person knows and no one else.
The usual practice is not to designate a fixed amount to anyone’s pain and suffering. Instead, the personal injury lawyer will assign a multiple between 1.5 and 5 to the sum of the financial damages, based on the intensity of the crash, and then use the resultant value to represent the total losses.
This is called the multiplier method, you can explore this method further online via injury settlement calculators.
While the multiplier method is the most common method in this regard, there is another formula as well, the per diem method, which simply puts a price per day of the suffering, and this is usually the amount that the sufferer earns – this extra sum is added to the economic loss and injury compensation package.
Though they may seem vague and have their limitations, these accident settlement formulae are the only way of getting fairly compensated, at least as close to ‘fair’ as things get until they invent something that allows people to measure someone’s pain and suffering.
Defining Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering, simply put, are exactly what they sound like. Any form of physical or emotional trauma falls under this canopy. The aftermath of any type of accident – be it a car accident, or a slip and fall, or a dog bite, or a workplace accident – is horrible, and so are the auto accident settlements that follow.
Not only does the victim have to deal with mounting financial pressures but also make do with the suffering caused by the incident. These include the physical discomfort caused by injuries associated with an accident, the emotional damages associated with the said injuries, and the resultant pain and suffering – for instance, if one is unable to be with one’s family because of the injury or missing out on important things in life because they’re in bad shape.
Usually, the impact is only temporary, in a couple of days, or weeks, or months at worse, the victim will recover and get back to stuff. However, this does not happen always and that can cause some serious problems – prolonged or worse, permanent suffering is the hardest to deal with. It also demands the highest degree of compensation.
Sufferings like traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of eyesight (due to the accident), knee injuries, shoulder injuries, leg injuries, neck injuries, and the associated physical recovery demand fair compensation for pain and perhaps some special damages.
The victims themselves may not live to suffer anymore but that does not kick out pain and suffering from the equation. With the death of the said sufferer, the remainder of their family members will be let in a deep state of sorrow in addition to the staggering financial pressure of losing a breadwinner of the family (considering that the victim was one). The parents, spouse, or children of the deceased can file their lawsuits against the liable parties and hold them accountable for loss of consortium and loss of companionship.
They may also claim loss of enjoyment of life if the victim was of great emotional support when alive – the same also applies when someone is so much affected by their injuries that they are keeping them from doing the stuff they love. Additionally, if the victim was in deep agony before passing away, then that short period of pain and suffering also counts.
You can expect a call from a seemingly sympathetic rep from the insurance company of the at-fault party, willing to pay up for your losses. This may seem good but it is not. As any competent personal injury lawyer will tell you, this is an attempt from their side to get you to settle for a nominal sum – this way, they walk off with a clean slate but you won’t get a fair settlement.
Instead, you should wait and share the details of your case, every single one, with a team of lawyers and then proceed according to their legal counsel to maximize your chances at securing a more meaningful settlement for pain and suffering in your case.
This sum varies depending on the types of injuries involved in suffering claims of the injury victims, and whether there was a permanent injury, how they affected their quality of life.
Of course, minor injuries only get a nominal suffering award under most insurance policies even if the economic losses were excessive.
Level of Pain and Suffering
So, what’s the limit here? How do we define whether a person has suffered only minor damage or if the condition is serious? Unfortunately, we can’t – at least not for sure. There is no way of knowing exactly how much actual pain a person feels except to share the feeling, which we know is impossible.
Thus coming up with a fixed value for someone’s physical and mental pain, or a formula, is too arbitrary. In an ideal world, the insurance company would simply take the word of the sufferer and simply close the argument there. But you can understand why that would not be very practical.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some parameters, even if vague and only semi-rational, to check out the extent of someone’s current pain and emotional suffering in accident claims. The most prominent one here is the extent of the financial damages involved in the case, i.e. if the medical bills are hefty enough, it suffices to say that the victim had to suffer a great deal.
Similarly, some accident types are much more painful than others. While someone’s claims to feeling constant agony due to a slip and fall accident, though probable, are somewhat doubtable, a dog bite victim’s statement about feeling anguish cannot be challenged.
The amount offered for financial compensation in this regard, though not an exact return (since that is not humanly possible), does depend on certain factors:
- The type of accident, its extent, and other details.
- The extent (short-term/long-term) of the damages sustained by the injured party and whether the symptoms associated with such personal injuries are known to cause such suffering.
- The effect that the injuries posed on an individual’s lifestyle, and whether there will be some permanent changes in the sufferer’s life (an amputation or permanent disfiguration will have life-long impacts).
- Whether the injuries caused a wrongful death of the said individual or cut their life expectancy short.
The biggest complication with calculating damages for pain is the fact that suffering is very individualistic. Even if two people suffer from similar levels of trauma, the pain will be different for both. Thus generalizing things is irrational here.
Personal injury lawyers assess the extent of damages by comparing the lifestyles of their clients before and after the said personal injuries. They ask a series of questions, exploring the personal and professional lives of their clients, to ascertain how much their lives have changed.
Usually, this is the only sound way of knowing the practical impact of a victim’s pain and suffering.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering?
Your lawyer needs no convincing. It is standard practice for experienced attorneys to believe what their clients tell them, but the insurance adjuster might not get on board your insurance claim for pain as easily. You can expect stiff resistance from their part to your claims of physical injury and pain.
You will need to gather convincing evidence to ensure that your claim becomes as solid as possible. Remember, that the weight of evidence super-cedes anything else in a case – thus if you command physical proof of your sufferings, you will assume the top position in your personal injury claim.
Here are a couple of things you can use as physical evidence for your case:
- Your medical records which will help detail how the sufferings resulted directly due to the said accident and not because of some pre-existing injury.
- The notes and testimony of the medical expert who evaluated your condition – some severe injuries have a threshold pain level, i.e. they are known to be very painful, if the doctor attests that you were indeed in great pain due to a certain type of injury, there is little room left for doubt.
- If you required psychiatric help for your emotional pain after the accident, then the testimony of the mental health expert who evaluated and then helped you, will come in handy.
- Photos and videos of the accident scene detailing your injuries and suffering damages – they can be compared with photos of you before you had to suffer like this. Most lawyers find contrasting pictures such as one showing the victim having the time of their life and the other showing them bedridden and frustrated with their condition – this is bound to win the sympathies of the jury.
- Comments from friends, family member, and neighbors who noticed a visible change in the victim’s life.
- The journal or notes of the said victim detailing their transformation and the challenges associated with such a swift change in life brought by the physical pain and psychological trauma.
The idea here is to play a double move: if the insurance company is not moved by such convincing and evocative pieces of evidence, then a judge and jury, surely will. Most likely, the insurance adjuster will buckle under the weight of evidence and be more willing to cooperate in the settlement negotiations.
If that does not happen, you reserve the right to walk out and file a personal injury lawsuit in a court of law, and who knows you might be awarded with punitive damages and walk out with a much bigger award for pain.
Jury verdicts are usually in favor of the victims when there are liberal juries involved, and the at-fault driver will have to pay up for your physical condition and the painful recovery associated with it.
You’ll get a better idea of your position when the lawyer shows you the full picture with their suffering calculator which will better justify your suffering demands.
Preserving Your Position To Secure Compensation For Pain And Suffering
The last thing you’d want to do is to give away your right to money for pain that resulted due to an accident. Since pain and suffering are much harder to prove, you and your family have to act responsibly.
You should go through these standard practices to ensure that the blame does not fall upon your shoulders and that you are ready to face the insurance company head-on:
- Seeking medical care as soon as possible and getting a psychiatric evaluation if necessary,his way, you will be diagnosed for your sufferings immediately and will evade the blame of making things worse through negligence, i.e. by delaying this visit.
- Try your best to recover, you should leave no doubt that your condition was caused by the accident, not by your unwillingness to get better.
- Document everything, whether you record it on a video or write it down, it will be helpful later on.
- Keep track of your pain medication doses (or better yet, ask your family to do so) to reflect daily pain levels and hence be of help in the calculation of pain.
- Staying in touch with the people who will be able to contrast your before and after conditions.
- Avoid being on social media for the time, and if you are, don’t post optimistic stuff because your words may allow the insurance company to downplay your sufferings.
- Getting in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible and having them represent you at all stages of this process, including stuff like drafting a demand letter and facing the insurance rep.
This way, you will never lose the edge in your bid to secure your rightful payout for pain and avoid some of the most common traps laid down by the insurance company in this regard. Usually, the total sum (money for pain) ranges between a couple of thousand dollars to a hundred thousand and more!
Kelly & Associates Can Help You Win Fair Compensation
The biggest deterrent for most injury victims to hire professional accident lawyers for their claims for pain is the thought of having to pay them amid such economic turbulence created by the accident. However, in the personal injury realm, it is almost a standard practice to work on a contingency fee basis.
For our team of personal injury attorneys at the Kelly & Associates Law Firm, your pain and sufferings are not only your own. We always go the extra mile to ensure that our clients get the most reasonable and fair compensation for their losses. This much we guarantee: we won’t leave any page unturned in your case.
You should seek out the help of our accident attorneys immediately if you wish to build a solid case; there are no advance fees and the consultation does not cost a penny, so, call us today, and we’ll get started!