Accidents can result in serious injuries that cause excruciating physical pain and emotional trauma. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on the pain and suffering an accident victim endures. But when you suffer injuries in an accident due to another person’s negligence, you deserve to recover compensation for the resulting medical bills and lost wages, as well as the physical and emotional pain and suffering your injuries caused you.
Insurance companies may offer a settlement that includes financial compensation for pain and suffering. But their calculations usually fall short of the true extent of the impact your injuries have had on your life.
If an accident injured you or a loved one, a personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for all your damages, including a settlement that reflects the true value of your pain and suffering.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering describe the physical and emotional stress a person may experience due to an injury caused by someone else’s negligence. It is a non-economic damage awarded to the victim as compensation for their pain, discomfort, and emotional distress.
Types of Pain and Suffering
Personal injury law recognizes two types of pain and suffering physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering.
Physical pain and suffering refers to the actual physical pain and discomfort a person experiences due to their injuries, such as broken bones, cuts, bruises, and other physical injuries.
People handle physical pain differently. Some have a higher pain tolerance than others.
To effectively communicate the extent of your physical pain and suffering, you will need to show how it has affected your life. For example, has your pain and suffering affected your ability to walk, perform personal grooming activities, complete household chores, or work in the same capacity as before?
Mental pain and suffering, on the other hand, refers to the emotional and psychological trauma that a person may experience because of their injury. Examples include anxiety, depression, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other emotional and psychological distress.
Emotional pain and suffering is harder to establish because the injury is not visible. Others may stigmatize mental health issues, and some people simply cannot understand how emotional anguish can impair you. Describing the emotional impact of an accident can help others understand, but a diagnosis from a mental health professional may help you even more.
Common Accidents that Warrant Pain and Suffering Damages
Common accidents that another person’s negligence can cause include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
Severity of Injury
One of the most important factors in calculating pain and suffering damages is the extent and seriousness of the injury. Severe injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, loss of limbs, fractures, organ damage, or any other injuries that significantly affect the victim’s physical or mental well-being.
The severity of injuries can vary, ranging from minor injuries with a relatively quick recovery to catastrophic injuries that cause permanent disability or impairment.
Generally, more severe injuries result in more compensation due to the increased impact on the victim’s life and potential long-term consequences. Lawyers will consider the extent of the physical harm caused by the injury, as well as the length of time it will take for the person to recover.
Duration of Pain and Suffering
When calculating pain and suffering damages, lawyers will also consider the duration of the pain and suffering, including both the length of time that the person has already suffered and the length of time that they are expected to continue suffering.
Predicting the duration of pain and suffering or quantifying it involves assessing the individual’s unique experiences and recovery process. Medical records, expert medical opinions, testimony, recovery period, and long-term effects can help lawyers establish the duration of an accident victim’s pain and suffering. In general, the longer the duration of the pain and suffering, the more the damages.
Impact on Daily Life
Lawyers will also consider the impact the injury had on the person’s daily life. This can include any limitations the injury imposed on the person’s ability to work, care for themselves or their family, or engage in activities they enjoy.
Accidents can also affect other areas of a person’s life, such as their ability to engage in social activities and meet friends, leading to feelings of isolation. As with other factors, the more significant the impact on daily life, the higher the pain and suffering damages.
Injuries can take a substantial emotional toll on those involved in an accident. They may suffer from anxiety, depression, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other emotional issues, with debilitating symptoms such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia.
Emotional distress is more difficult to show. Lawyers may use expert opinions from psychologists or psychiatrists, medical records showing treatments and therapy to treat the conditions, and the impact the emotional trauma had on the individual’s life, including changes in behavior such as social withdrawal and interference with personal relationships. The greater the individual’s emotional distress, the higher their pain and suffering damages.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is a claim made by a spouse or family member for the deprivation or impairment of benefits and companionship resulting in the injury or harm caused by their loved one.
Loss of consortium typically includes:
- Loss of companionship, referring to the loss of the injured person’s presence, love, affection, and emotional support within the spousal or familiar relationship
- Loss of consortium, meaning the loss of sexual relations or the impaired ability to engage in intimate or marital activities due to the injury suffered;
- Loss of parental guidance or support if the injured person is a parent and the accident harms the parent-child relationship, such as diminished ability to provide care, guidance, support, and nurturing to the children because of the injury
Age may play a role in assessing the long-term impact of an injury on an individual’s quality of life. For younger individuals, injuries that lead to permanent disabilities or impairments may significantly affect their life trajectory, including education, career prospects, and overall independence. As a result, they may receive more pain and suffering damages to compensate for the prolonged impacts on their life.
When an injury results in a reduced life expectancy, such as in cases involving terminal illnesses or catastrophic injuries, age can factor into the calculation of pain and suffering damages. Courts may consider the anticipated duration of pain and suffering based on the individual’s remaining life expectancy, which can vary based on age and other relevant factors.
Existence of Pre-Existing Conditions
Pre-existing injuries can complicate your claim for pain and suffering damages. Your lawyer must provide medical records to show your accident re-injured a previous injury or worsened your pre-existing injury.
Some states, like Florida, recognize the eggshell skull rule, which means that a defendant faces full responsibility for the injury caused, regardless of the injured person’s pre-existing condition. This rule holds that a negligent party should take their victim as they find them, even if the person had a pre-existing condition that made them more susceptible to injury or increased the severity of the injury.
Methods Used to Calculate Pain and Suffering
When calculating pain and suffering damages in Florida, lawyers typically use the multiplier method or the per diem method. Each method considers different factors to determine an appropriate amount of compensation for the victim.
Each method has strengths and weaknesses, and the method used will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Your lawyers will carefully consider all factors when calculating pain and suffering damages so you receive fair compensation.
The multiplier method is the most commonly used method for calculating pain and suffering damages. This method involves multiplying the victim’s economic damages (such as medical bills and lost income) by a number called a multiplier. The multiplier can vary depending on the circumstances of the case.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method calculates pain and suffering damages based on a daily rate. This method involves determining a daily rate for the victim’s pain and suffering, then multiplying it by the number of days the victim has experienced pain and suffering as a result of the injury.
For example, if the daily rate is $100 and the victim has experienced pain and suffering for 100 days, they would recover pain and suffering damages of $10,000. However, this method requires a more detailed understanding of the victim’s daily pain and suffering.
The exact number used in the per diem method depends on many factors. For example, if the injury prevents you from working, your lawyer may base the number on the victim’s daily salary.
Challenges in Calculating Pain and Suffering
Calculating pain and suffering damages in Florida presents one of the most difficult tasks that your lawyer will accomplish for you.
Several challenges make it hard to determine the appropriate amount of compensation.
One of the main challenges in calculating pain and suffering is the subjective nature of the experience. Pain is a personal and individual experience that nobody can easily quantify. What one person considers a minor injury, another person may experience as debilitating. Therefore, determining the value of pain and suffering can vary from case to case.
Lack of Tangible Evidence
Another challenge is the lack of tangible evidence. Unlike medical bills or lost income, pain and suffering damages do not have a specific dollar value attached to them. No tangible evidence can determine the compensation a person deserves for their pain and suffering. This lack of evidence can make it hard to prove the extent of the damages and can lead to disputes between the parties involved.
Insurance Company Tactics
Insurance companies may also pose a challenge when it comes to calculating pain and suffering damages. They usually have their own methods, which may involve multiplying your hospital bills by a predetermined number. As a result, insurance adjusters often undervalue the actual amount of pain and suffering you endured.
Insurance companies are also more interested in their own profits than in fairly compensating you. They may minimize the value of the damages or argue that the injuries do not warrant compensation. Insurance adjusters may offer low settlements or delay the claims process to pressure policyholders into accepting less compensation.
An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to establish a more accurate value of your pain and suffering to ensure a fairer settlement with insurance companies. And if insurers don’t play fair, your lawyer can represent you in court and advocate for you.
Contact a Lawyer with Redemption Law Today
Accident injuries can cause debilitating physical and emotional pain. An experienced lawyer knows how to accurately calculate the impact your injuries had on your life to ensure a settlement that better reflects your losses, including your pain and suffering.
You can trust a personal injury lawyer to handle all aspects of your injury case so you can focus on your own recovery. Contact a personal injury law firm in Miami today for your free consultation and case evaluation.