How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case
Want to know how to calculate pain and suffering damage in a personal injury case? Well, thanks for visiting Sally Morin Law’s personal injury website. If you’ve been in a traffic accident, I’m sure you have a lot of questions. Recovering from your injuries while navigating your personal injury claim and worrying about your personal finances is not an entirely pleasant process. But having all the information you need in order to ensure you’re compensated to the extent you deserve can take away some of the uncertainty surrounding the coming months.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to calculate pain and suffering for your personal injury case or traffic accident suit and why doing it right is so important to your maximize the financial outcome of your personal injury claim.
What are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Pain and suffering encompass a wide array of injuries that a plaintiff may experience when injured by another party. Generally speaking, they’re considered “non-economic” damages. In other words, you’re not being compensated for money that you’ve paid out or owe.
For instance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your medical injuries and to replace any property damaged by the other driver. Lost time from work is also considered economic damages. These can all be easily calculated.
The law also acknowledges that you deserve to be compensated for pain and suffering. This includes more than just physical pain and suffering, but emotional distress as well. It would also include the loss of enjoyment of sports or hobbies that you like to do, as well as the loss of the ability to perform basic chores around the house.
The “Multiply by 3” Method of Calculating Pain and Suffering
As you might imagine, mechanical methods for calculating pain and suffering are not necessarily very accurate. Many personal injury websites set up simple calculators that merely multiply your economic damages by a multiplier, usually between 1.5 and 5. These methods fail to account for the nuances of an individual case. They do not represent an accurate predictive model on which to base a victory celebration or spending spree. That is why it is important to understand how to calculate pain and suffering damages.
How Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering
Insurance companies also use an algorithm to calculate pain and suffering when offering a plaintiff a settlement. In some instances, this number might be fair. But in others, it fails to account for emotional distress and the loss of enjoyment.
Insurance companies will generally attempt to determine the kind of injuries a person sustained in an accident where the other driver was at fault. For instance, if the driver of an accident required surgery or broke bones, the insurance company might allot them more than a driver who had a few bruised ribs.
This takes into account the kind of injury and the kind of medical treatment the patient had to receive to correct it. On the other hand, it would not take into account the number of sleepless nights a plaintiff had to endure because it hurt to breathe.
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Breaking Down Pain and Suffering
There is no universal standard to calculate pain and suffering. However, once it has been established that a defendant is fully at fault for an accident, a plaintiff may receive compensation for any consequence of that accident. That includes:
- Physical and emotional pain
- Loss of companionship / consortium
- Inability to enjoy hobbies or activities
- Loss of mobility to carry out household chores
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life past, present, and future
Pain and suffering or non-economic damages are there to compensate a plaintiff for what they had to go through as a result of someone else’s carelessness.
Not only are these damages hard to quantify in and of themselves, but they may cause varying levels of distress to different plaintiffs. Establishing a dollar amount for an injury is thus extremely subjective.
To get an accurate pain and suffering calculation, a skilled personal injury lawyer will first identify all the non-economic damages that a plaintiff has suffered due to the negligence of another party. They will then determine the impact that the injury has had on that individual’s life. For instance, if a person who is rehabbing an injury is confined to a wheelchair for 4 months, how much does the person deserve to be compensated for each day they have to suffer that inconvenience.
Even here, what that inconvenience means to an individual person needs to be further broken down into parts.
Policy Limits and Pain and Suffering Calculation
There is no sure-fire way to calculate what your damages will be in a personal injury lawsuit. There are simply too many factors at play, and a good personal injury attorney can make the most out of your claim by arguing how precisely your injuries impacted your quality of life.
The only stipulation in all of this is that the judge and the jury need to be in agreement on how a certain figure was reached.
When dealing with an insurance company, it is also important to recognize that damages cannot exceed an individual’s policy limit. It may be possible to sue the individual for damages, but an injured party will not be able to collect more from the insurance company than the defendant’s policy limit.
Thus, pain and suffering calculation often comes down to maximizing your settlement in terms of what the insurance company is willing to pay. Those who carry policies with low coverage often do not have significant assets on which to draw. As a driver who was injured by another party, this may not seem fair, and it isn’t. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that not every personal injury case will result in a massive settlement.
For this reason, we recommend that drivers carry uninsured and underinsured driver’s insurance. This will help drivers protect themselves against those who carry insurance with very low policy limits and do not have significant assets to draw on.
So that’s why it’s important to recognize that your personal injury case may be different than those that you’ve read about in the news. Each case is different. Your lawyer’s job is to know how to calculate pain and suffering to secure you the best settlement possible for your injuries.
If you or someone you love has suffered major injuries in a bicycle, motorcycle, pedestrian vs. auto, car, Uber or Lyft accident, get a FREE evaluation of your case online here.