The issue of pain and suffering is common during personal injury claims. Of all the damages awarded during an accident, pain and suffering has the largest value. However, since there is no fixed way for determining pain and suffering, payments will vary from case to case. The following web page seeks to define pain and suffering, and how it is determined.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering can be classified into two: mental and physical. Mental pain and suffering arises from a person’s psychological injuries. It covers conditions such as emotional distress, mental anguish, fear, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, anger, shock, and anxiety. Mental pain and suffering also includes depression, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances, lack of appetite, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It represents any negative emotion arising from the trauma and physical pain that one experiences after an accident. Mental pain and suffering covers not only the current effects that one has suffered but also the future effects that one is likely to suffer in future.
Physical pain and suffering implies the plaintiff’s body injuries. Like mental pain and suffering, it covers not only the discomfort and pain that one has had to endure but also the likely effects that they might suffer in future.
Determining Whether Your Injury Qualifies for Pain and Suffering Damages
In determining whether a person meets the threshold for pain and suffering compensation, the court or insurance adjuster will find out whether:
- The injured person has sustained permanent impairment of their physical or mental function
- If the answer to the first question is yes, the court will seek to find out whether the function that is permanently ruined is important
- If the answer to the second question is yes, the court will seek to find out whether the impairment to that important function is serious
These factors are used to evaluate the impact of the accident on the injured party. Therefore, if a person’s reaction to their injuries is not what would be expected from an average individual, the court or insurance adjuster will not disregard their claims. Instead, the court or insurance adjuster deals with the impact of injuries or impairments on an individual level or on a case by case basis.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
There are three common methods insurance adjusters use to calculate the value of pain and suffering. These are the multiplier method, per diem method, and estimation of general costs.
The multiplier method involves multiplying the sum of all medical bills associated with the vehicle accident injuries by a number ranging from 1-5. For example, if you have suffered minor injuries like bruising, lacerations, and sprains, the insurance adjuster may multiply the amount of your medical bills by 1 or 2. For hard injuries like a broken collarbone or ruptured disk, the multiple could range between 2 and 3. For more serious injuries like permanent scaring, or brain damage, insurance adjusters may use a multiple of 5 or more based on the severity of your injuries.
Per Diem Method
The per diem approach relies on a basic formula premised upon one’s daily suffering. For example, if you injured your knee in a vehicle accident, you will determine the pain you have to endure daily and the daily activities you are unable to perform because of your injuries. Using this determination, you will allocate a certain compensation figure to each day and multiply this amount by the sum of days you have been injured.
Estimation of General Costs
Sometimes a figure of pain and suffering will be determined by way of estimation. For example, if you lost your leg in an accident, the cost of treatment, losing your former employment, failing to enjoy former activities, and all hardships associated with living with one leg will be allocated one huge lump sum of money.
Negotiating for a Pain and Suffering Settlement
When seeking for pain and suffering damages for your injuries, the amount of compensation you get will depend on the strength of your evidence. You should provide sufficient prove in form of:
- Medical records-bills, reports, and medical treatment
- Receipts of prescriptions and over the counter medicine
- Proof of time away from school or lost wages
- Photographic evidence of injuries
Insurance adjusters are notorious for denying injured parties a fair pain and suffering award. In minor cases, adjusters only pay special damages to accident victims. The presence of a lawyer may improve your chances of a reasonable award for pain and suffering. However, you can also get a fair compensation if you have sufficient proof and knowledge on calculating pain and suffering. For example, if your special damages are worth $6,000, and your adjuster offers you $12,000 for your pain and suffering, you can clearly conclude that they have used a multiple of 2 to arrive at the award. With such information, you will be able to negotiate for a higher multiple based on the seriousness of your injuries and the strength of your evidence.