The economic impact of injury following an accident is usually easy to determine. But you may need help filing a claim or dealing with an insurer. In that case, visit this website to find a competent attorney and resources to streamline the process.
All the same, cases involving non-economic losses or pain and suffering damages are challenging to quantify accurately. For example, a jury or judge may need to consider both the victim’s physical pain and any emotional distress resulting from the accident. In short, it involves analyzing your entire experience, which can vary from person to person.
So, how do insurers compute the damages, and what do courts rely on to determine a reasonable payout? Read on to find out.
What are Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a state of acute physical or mental distress caused by traumatic events. People experience pain and suffering differently, depending on the event’s severity.
Examples can range from a stubbed toe to ongoing grief following the loss of a loved one. In some cases, physical pain can be treated with medication or surgery to bring relief, while therapeutic conversations may provide comfort for emotional agony.
Regardless of where it stems from, pain and suffering may profoundly impact your life; it can affect your mental well-being, cause you to feel powerless, and even modify your outlook on life. Thus, the need to compute damages for pain and suffering is often necessary.
When dealing with a legal case, such as personal injury or medical malpractice, the court can award damages to compensate a plaintiff who experiences physical or emotional trauma due to someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing. In summary, pain and suffering damages are part of compensatory damages awarded in civil lawsuits.
How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Calculated
Judges or juries estimate what your pain and suffering are worth based on the evidence presented. Generally, they consider factors such as the severity and duration of suffering, physical injuries, medical bills, physical impairment, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment.
Usually, it’s challenging to compute this type of damage as it is very subjective; what one person may consider a significant hardship could be seen as trivial by another. Typically, insurers are responsible for estimating the value of pain and suffering. To do this, they adopt various approaches, as explained below:
1. Per Diem Method
Based on this approach, the insurer considers the number of days you suffered and multiplies it by an amount that reflects the pain and suffering for each day. This method is usually used when the injury is not severe or long-lasting.
For instance, if you suffered for eight weeks and the insurer values each day at $200, you’d be awarded $11,200 in pain and suffering damages. Even so, relying on an insurer’s discretion to arrive at this figure may be unwise, as they’re likely to underestimate the damages.
And while they may evaluate your documentation to arrive at a figure, the most accurate way to determine pain and suffering is to consult a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can help you build your claim. For starters, they can assess the full value of your damages so you can take all necessary steps to get fair compensation. Some of the documents they may rely on include:
- Medical records (bills, prescription costs, receipts, and more).
- Testimonies from family, friends, and colleagues.
- Documentation of income losses due to the injury, such as time off work.
- Photographs of the injury and its aftermath.
Having an attorney lead your charge gives you a better chance of getting a fair amount, as they usually safeguard your interests. So, it pays to have a legal partner in your corner.
2. Multiplier Method
If the insurer adopts this approach, they’ll multiply the total value of all economic damages – medical bills and other out-of-pocket costs – by a particular figure (called the multiplier, typically between 1.5 and 5) to arrive at an estimated pain and suffering award. The multiplier serves as the determinant of the seriousness of the injury, as a more severe injury would have a higher multiplier.
Let’s say your injuries resulted in mental anguish, and you incurred $10,000 in medical expenses. The court or insurer may multiply this figure by 3 to estimate pain and suffering damages. Similarly, if you’re disabled due to the injury and lost $30,000 in wages, the court may multiply this figure by 5 to determine fair compensation.
The two methods can help you arrive at an estimated figure for pain and suffering damages. However, the jury or court may rely on other factors, such as the state’s tort laws and precedents, to offer fair compensation. Thus, having a lawyer who knows their stuff could pay off in the end.