When you suffer injuries after a car accident, slip and fall, or other accident due to the negligence of another, you may seek compensation from the responsible party for the damages suffered. Some of these damages are more easily measurable than others, such as medical bills and lost wages. But other damages can be more difficult to calculate.
One such type of damage victims of personal injuries can seek compensation for is called “pain and suffering.” And this particular damage is different person to person and case to case. Understanding what it is and how it’s determined is the first step to understanding how you may have a right to secure it for yourself or your loved one.
Defining Pain and Suffering
The phrase “pain and suffering” is a legal term referring to physical, mental, and emotional injuries suffered by the victim of an accident. It is taken into heavy consideration when determining compensation because often, the damages suffered during an accident extend beyond physical injuries. When injuries are severe enough, or the accident traumatizing enough, it can lead to mental and emotional harm too.
Personal injuries that occur during accidents may not only be incredibly painful, but sometimes that pain can last for days, weeks, or even years after the fact. Chronic pain can be permanent in some cases, and this can have a substantial effect on emotional and mental wellbeing.
Examples of such physical pain can include back and neck pain, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injury, broken bones, nerve damage, headaches, strained muscles, dislocated joints, or paralysis. Any one of these medical conditions may last for years and cause constant physical pain.
Emotional and mental pain and suffering may be harder to quantify, but their effects are very real. Those who suffer severe or lasting injuries and pain may suffer mental anguish over their pain as a result. Such examples of emotional pain can include psychological trauma, fear, insomnia, anxiety, anger, grief, frustration, post-traumatic stress disorder, cognitive changes in the brain, and an overall diminished quality of life.
When someone is responsible for causing such pain and suffering in another person, they should be held accountable for their actions. It shouldn’t be left up to the victim alone to find a way to cover the mounting medical bills for injuries and pain, nor should they be responsible for addressing their mental anguish on their own either.
Sometimes, an accident results in the death of the victim, leaving their family members suffering from their loss. This loss of consortium is another type of pain and suffering. A family’s grief and mental anguish after losing a loved one can be a very real reason for additional pain and suffering compensation.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
Every personal injury case is different. That naturally means the calculations for determining pain and suffering are different too. But they always depend on the facts and circumstances of each case and its victim. There are, however, two primary ways pain and suffering are most often calculated.
The Multiplier Method looks at the total number for actual damages like medical bills and lost wages, then multiplies that total by a number on a scale of one to five. The scale determination is based upon the severity of the injuries suffered by the victim. For example, if a car accident left the victim with chronic shoulder pain, they may be assigned a scale number of one or two. But if a car accident left a victim permanently paralyzed from the waist down, they may be assigned a scale number of four or five. The awarded compensation would then be used to cover ongoing medical care or therapeutic mental care as needed to address the pain and anguish felt by these victims.
The second method is called the Per Diem Method. “Per Diem” is Latin phrasing that translates to “per day,” and involves the assignment of a specific dollar amount to every day from the day of the accident, up until the victim reaches their maximum medical recovery. Maximum recovery is a term used to describe when a medical professional determines their patient’s condition will not improve any further. The Per Diem Method looks at all the daily expenditures by the victim related to pain and suffering, whether they’re to address medical concerns, emotional concerns, or other related effects of the accident.
These methods can be a reliable way for assigning quantifiable numbers to situations that can be difficult to turn into base rates or preset determinations. As such, they are the most commonly used, but insurance companies may choose to use other methods to calculate pain and suffering.
Proving Pain and Suffering
In order to claim pain and suffering as part of a personal injury suit, the burden of proof falls to the victim. In order to establish that real, ongoing physical and mental pain and anguish is being experienced, certain documentation and evidence is needed.
Doctors’ notes and other medical records are some of the most important sources of evidence to obtain and present on your behalf. These can include personalized notes from medical professionals, records of diagnosis and care from their offices or affiliated hospitals, and other medical items such as tests, X-rays, prescriptions, recovery equipment, and more.
Photo evidence of the injuries and how they affect the victim’s life, as well as of the related accident, is recommended as well. Photos can show the severity of injuries and their impact, as well as document the progress of any healing (or a lack of healing). Photos of the accident and its aftermath can help establish why the victim’s mental health may be in a certain state. For example, if pain and suffering has stemmed from a severe car accident in which the victim’s car rolled several times, they may now be experiencing an extreme fear of traveling in cars, which can be considered a form of life-altering mental suffering. Photos of the damage to the vehicle involved can help portray that fear to the insurance company.
If the victim has been seeking the help and guidance of a therapist or other mental health counselor, records of these sessions or statements from the counselor can also be strong evidence in the case for pain and suffering compensation. These professionals are trained to recognize the mental state of their patients, what caused it, and what course of treatment, if any, might help them regain their mental and emotional stability.
Gathering such evidence of pain and suffering to present to insurance companies and legal teams can be hard to fathom taking on in the best of times. It can be harder still when your pain and suffering demand all your attention and care. This is why we’ll always recommend seeking the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer like The Whisler Law Firm to help you build your case.
Our team has decades of experience representing clients who have suffered an array of injuries and their effects, meaning we can help you with your unique situation too. We have connections with great resources for both medical and mental assistance who we trust to help you establish your case. And most importantly, you owe us nothing unless we help you secure the compensation you deserve.
Schedule an entirely free initial consultation with our team by calling 833-529-5677 or filling out our easy online form. We want to hear about the pain you’re going through so we can determine the best way to help.