Mark Roman | December 17, 2020 | Personal Injury
When you are injured because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you have the right to seek financial compensation. This is true if your injury is the result of a car accident, a slip & fall, a workplace mishap, or any other type of accident.
After determining who is at-fault for the accident, you will need to show that your injury resulted in losses and damages. The purpose of making a claim for damages is to allow you to financially recover and continue on with your life as normally as possible.
Some types of losses are easy to calculate. These are known as “economic damages.” For instance, many damages are associated with a specific amount that you can claim. Economic damages include medical costs, lost wages, and any other specific financial expenses. However, other types of damages are more difficult to quantify.
In addition to the economic costs associated with your injury, you also have the right to pursue financial compensation for “non-economic damages.”
Non-economic damages are losses that do not cost a specific monetary amount. For instance, you have the right to seek financial compensation for the pain and suffering that your injury caused.
Determining how much you should claim for non-economic damages is a complex process. Every injury is unique, and it can be difficult to put a dollar amount on your quality of life. A skilled personal injury attorney can calculate how much you are owed for your pain and suffering.
Below, we will examine the common factors that influence how much you should claim for pain and suffering.
What is “Pain and Suffering”?
In the context of personal injury law, “pain and suffering” is a specific category of damages that can be sought by the injured party. These damages are paid to the victim by the parties who are responsible for the injury. The legal purpose of claiming damages for pain and suffering is to compensate the victim for having to endure difficult experiences resulting from an injury.
Florida Standard Jury Instructions note that victims can claim financial compensation for “pain and suffering, disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past or to be experienced in the future.” (FSJI 501.2).
Filing a claim for pain and suffering damages in your personal injury case is important because not every element of life has a definitive cost.
For instance, how much money are you owed if your injury makes it impossible to pick up your grandchild without pain? How much money compensates for not being able to jog or swim comfortably?
Examples of non-monetary general damages include:
- Pain and suffering (financial compensation for physical pain)
- Impairments and injuries (disabilities and disfigurement)
- Mental anguish (stress, anxiety, and trauma)
- Decreased quality of life (loss of independence, mobility, etc.)
- Loss of relationship or companionship (in the case of wrongful death)
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you should file for compensation. A qualified personal injury attorney can examine your case to calculate the pain and suffering damages you are due.
Securing Proof of Your Pain and Suffering
In order to show the jury in your case that the at-fault party is responsible for your non-economic losses, you need evidence. Be sure to gather relevant documents that detail the pain and suffering that you have experienced. An attorney can help you gather this information, as well.
Relevant documentation and evidence include:
- The written opinion of a medical professional that testifies to and verifies your pain. This written testimony should also note that your pain is relevant for legal purposes.
- The written opinion of a mental healthcare provider. The testimony should speak to your psychological state and verify your mental pain and suffering.
- The documented judgment of an expert in a related field of study that speaks to pain and suffering in injuries similar to yours.
- Records of any prescribed medications for related physical or mental conditions.
- Your own testimony, detailing the nature and extent of your pain and suffering. Juries are often moved when they hear specific examples of how an injury has impacted the victim’s life.
It is very difficult to seek compensation for general damages, such as pain and suffering, on your own. When you hire a personal injury attorney, you have the best chance of recovering the compensation that you are rightfully owed.
Ways of Calculating Pain and Suffering
As mentioned above, there is no universal or straightforward way to calculate pain and suffering damages. The effects of each injury are unique. However, the need to calculate pain and suffering damages has led attorneys and insurance providers to develop formulas to determine an approximate range of appropriate payments.
Two standard formulas to calculate appropriate compensation for an injury include:
The Multiplier Method
This method involves representing the severity of your injuries with a “multiplier” number between 1.5 and 5. The more severe your injuries, the higher the multiplier. After determining the multiplier, the following formula is applied:
(Total medical bills) x (multiplier number) + (Total economic damage, such as medical bills, property damages, lost wages, etc.) = Appropriate monetary compensation
The Per Diem Method
Another method involves paying the victim a reasonable sum (typically $100) per day that they spent in recovery. So, if the time between the accident and the victim’s full recovery was exactly one year, the victim would be paid $36,500 for their injury.
These are not the only methods for calculating pain and suffering damages. Some lawyers and insurance providers set the per diem rate as equal to the daily pay rate of the medical care specialist who treated the victim’s injury. Another method involves enlisting a focus group of volunteers to come to an agreement on an appropriate amount of compensation.
Although there is no universal method for calculating pain and suffering damages, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine the amount of compensation you should claim. Pain and suffering present very real personal costs to victims, even if they are not easily calculable.