How are pain and suffering valued in a personal injury case?
After you’ve been hurt in a car or other type of accident that was caused by negligence, you’re entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit and receive compensation from the responsible person or parties. This compensation can include different types of financial awards, called damages. Economic damages are relatively straightforward to calculate, but non-economic damages such as pain and suffering can be more difficult to reach an agreement over.
Here’s what you need to know about how pain and suffering—and other non-economic damages—are valued during your personal injury case.
What Does Pain and Suffering Mean?
When economic damages are considering during your case, the numbers are fairly easy to calculate, and are based on your hospital and doctor’s bills, including the price of medications, any surgeries, rehabilitation or physical therapy, and other expenses that are quantified on an invoice or bill. Pain and suffering damages, however, are not as easy to add up, as it can include such subjective concepts as:
- The amount of physical pain suffered.
- Fear, terror, or grief.
- Embarrassment, anxiety, or humiliation.
- Stress, shock, or other emotional pain and trauma.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
The insurance company, judge, or jury won’t be able to look at an itemized bill that neatly totals up the exact cost of these types of injuries, but there are certain methods that are commonly used to come to a total.
Valuing Non-Economic Damages
There’s no exact formula or calculation that the court or a jury will use when considering your award for non-economic damages, so there are a number of methods that they may use to come up with a value that makes sense for your situation. This may be, but is not always, based on a “multiplier” value of your economic damages, between one to five times the total amount of your economic damages. The law does not require the use of this kind of multiplier, though, nor does it usually cap non-economic awards in personal injury.
To begin assessing your physical pain, a jury may begin by looking at what kinds of injuries you have, as well as how many overall injuries there are. They may also look at the extent and severity of those injuries, and your tolerance for pain, and should take into consideration your health prior to the accident, and your long-term outlook for recovery. The length of your hospitalization, whether you needed repeated trips to the doctor, and how much physical therapy or rehabilitation you need will likely play a role in the calculation. Prescribed pain medication may also be considered as an indicator not only of how bad your injuries are, but what your level of pain tolerance is.
Emotional pain can be even more difficult to quantify than physical pain, but the need for emotional therapy may play a role in the calculation, as may testimony from doctors, mental health professionals, or others who have witnessed a change in your personality.
Documentation of your injuries, whether physical or mental, can play a key role in your damage award determination. When you discuss your injuries with your doctor, therapist, or other health care professional, don’t be shy or think that you can “stick it out” without mentioning a problem you’re having that’s related to the accident, no matter how small, because it can later become an invaluable resource for proving to the court exactly how bad your injuries are—and the compensation that you should be fairly awarded as a result.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
If you’ve been seriously hurt in an accident that could have been avoided but for someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, you’re entitled to seek compensation in a court of law. Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured for decades, and we would like to help you recover from your injuries. To speak to an experienced legal professional about your accident, call us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box right now and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.