If you were injured due to the careless or intentional acts of someone else, there is a good chance that you will be coping with more than just the financial pain of your injuries. You may be wondering if pain and suffering damages are available.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
The term “pain and suffering” refers to the physical and emotional pain caused by the injury that you would not have had to endure had the negligent action not taken place. Injuries can be costly financially, but there can also be significant implications for your quality of life. Compensation for what you are going through is pain and suffering damages. This type of recovery falls under the umbrella of non-economic damages.
Economic vs Non-Economic Damages
Both economic and non-economic damages are considered “compensatory” damages because you are being compensated for things that never should have been an issue in the first place.
Injuries can be costly to treat, and property can be costly to repair. Economic damages cover the actual expenses that result from the incident that injured you. The goal of economic damages is to restore you to the financial position you would have been in had the negligence not occurred. Some of the things that economic damages cover include:
- Medical costs;
- Physical therapy;
- Rehabilitation equipment;
- Lost wages;
- Caregiver expenses;
- Property damage;
- Transportation to distant doctor visits; and
These costs can be compiled and proven using receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and the like. This makes them very easy to calculate.
Not all effects of your injuries will be this easy to quantify. Non-economic damages are those that impact your mental state and wellbeing. These are often things that cannot be changed with money. Nor can they be solved with a simple apology. And even though money cannot fix all wrongs, financial compensation is the only way the law has of compensating victims for these losses. Pain and suffering damages are included in non-economic damages, along with some of the following:
- Mental anguish,
- Post-traumatic stress,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Loss of quality of life.
Sometimes the mental aspect of what you have been through or the severity of your injuries can prevent you from living life as you once did. Therapy is often necessary after a traumatic accident. That alone is enough to constitute non-economic damages. If you are injured to the point that you are unable to do the things you love most in life, you are likely experiencing varying degrees of loss of quality of life and should be compensated accordingly.
Proving Pain and Suffering Damages
Unlike economic damages that come with a price tag, pain and suffering damages are more complicated to prove but very relevant to your case. In order to prove pain and suffering damages, you will need to provide supportive evidence about the extent of your injury and the limitations it imposes on your normal day-to-day activities and lifestyle. Potential evidence may include:
- Detailed police reports from the incident that caused the injury;
- Photos from the accident to demonstrate severity;
- Medical records from all treatment you have undergone;
- Testimonials from medical doctors;
- Testimonials from therapists;
- A list of long-term medications;
- Visual proof of your previous lifestyle, which can include photos or video demonstrating the activities you did but can no longer take part in;
- Testimonials from friends or family members about the effects of your injury;
- Co-worker or supervisor testimonials regarding changes to your ability to do your job; and
- Expert analysis regarding limitations on earning capacity.
Gathering this type of evidence is an important part of achieving fair compensation and can be even more crucial if your case goes to trial. An experienced personal injury attorney will understand and make informed recommendations on the best way to present your case to get the pain and suffering damages you deserve.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
There are a number of factors that go into determining the amount of damages a court should award for pain and suffering. Whether you are negotiating with an insurance company or presenting your case before a judge and jury, some things to be considered include the:
- Severity of your injuries;
- Required past and future medical treatment;
- Egregiousness of the behavior that caused the injury;
- Overall physical and mental pain suffered and reasonably expected into the future;
- Impact on your quality of life;
- Changes and limitations to employment; and
- Long-term prognosis of the injury.
Each injury is unique, so there are no set standards for how much compensation you will receive for pain and suffering. However, there are two different types of calculations commonly used to determine pain and suffering damages.
Pain and Suffering Per Diem Method
This method of calculating pain and suffering damages assigns a specific monetary value to each day from the date of the injuries to the date of “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. A medical expert determines this date by asserting that the condition has improved as much as it possibly can and will not continue to heal. It can also be the date that the injury completely heals.
Pain and Suffering Multiplier Method
This is the more common of the two methods for calculating pain and suffering damages. Here are the general steps to using this calculation:
- Add up the total amount of your medical bills;
- Determine a number between 1.5 and 5, based on the severity of your injuries; and
- Multiply your medical bills by this number.
It really takes an experienced attorney to arrive at a feasible multiplier number. The more severe the injuries, the higher your multiplier will be. The degree of negligence in the action that caused the injury can also be a determining factor. Complications with using this method arise when the multiplier number is in dispute or the treatment is not extremely costly, but the long-term impact is.
Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples
There are a lot of potential situations where the injury results in long-term suffering. Here are some common pain and suffering settlement examples:
- Neck and back injuries often result in chronic pain that can be minimized or temporarily relieved—but will always cause some degree of pain and discomfort.
- Some personal injury cases may involve loss of limbs or range of motion. This can prevent the injured person from engaging in normal activities such as sports or sometimes even walking or driving.
- The emotional component of being unable to participate in activities you once enjoyed is a loss you can recover damages for. These activities can include anything from running marathons to holding your child, and everything in between.
- Disfigurement is another concern that is grounds for a pain and suffering settlement. Burns, wrecks, and other accidents can cause noticeable and permanent scars or changes to facial or bodily features.
There are countless other pain and suffering settlement examples in varying degrees of severity. Ultimately, if your injury permanently affects your life, you are entitled to a pain and suffering settlement.
Should You Hire an Attorney for Pain and Suffering Damages?
A lot of components go into determining whether or not you are entitled to pain and suffering damages. Your chances of succeeding in getting the compensation you deserve are exponentially higher with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
The experienced team at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys has decades of experience helping people just like you navigate the complex legal system in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. We take a personalized approach to each case and will fight zealously on your behalf. Schedule your free case evaluation and let us help you get your life back.
Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®