How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
Damages for pain and suffering may be awarded after a car accident or another type of personal injury, but how this form of compensation is calculated may seem a bit mysterious. If you have suffered an injury that someone else carelessly or intentionally caused, an insurance adjuster or jury may decide how much your pain and suffering is worth based on a variety of factors.
When you are negotiating an insurance settlement or preparing to bring a personal injury case to trial, a strong case and skilled advocacy can dramatically increase your damages award. The experienced attorneys at Chaffin Luhana put 85 years of combined experience to work in fighting for full compensation of pain and suffering on behalf of clients.
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is one type of non-economic damage that may impact your quality of life. Unlike economic damages such as lost wages and medical bills, non-economic damages are losses without a set financial value, and therefore their value may be more subjective.
Pain and suffering includes both the physical pain and the mental suffering that are directly linked to a physical injury. It encompasses any resulting physical and emotional effects, including anxiety, inconvenience, embarrassment, physical discomfort, and even the inability to sleep.
An experienced attorney will ask you questions to determine the full effect that your accident has had on your life. By identifying all of the physical and emotional impacts, you stand a greater chance of recovering full compensation.
Factors affecting compensation for pain and suffering
It may seem odd to reduce your injury and associated unpleasant experiences to a number, and placing a dollar amount on your pain and suffering is far from scientific. Jury awards in your location can affect settlement values in similar cases. Insurance adjusters typically use computer programs to calculate the value, but these often undervalue the claim.
Specific factors will also play a role and can include:
- You – your age, your pre-injury health and physical condition, and even how trustworthy your testimony appears
- Your injuries – the area of the body affected, the injury’s severity, whether it is temporary or permanent, the type of medical treatment received and costs associated with it, and whether it resulted in disfigurement or disability
- Short- and long-term impact – your physical pain and emotional suffering, as well as how the injury affects your ability to perform daily tasks or participate in the things you enjoyed before the accident
Proving pain and suffering
Economic damages are easier to prove than pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. However, you need to be prepared to prove the effects of the injury even if they cannot be seen.
Your attorney can determine the most persuasive way to substantiate your claims. Options include:
- Your testimony and the testimony of loved ones
- Medical records and bills caused by the injury, including with mental health professionals
- Expert testimony by a doctor who can offer a professional opinion as to how long the injury and pain will last
- Diaries that record how the injury has affected your mood and any other struggles it has caused
When pain and suffering is not available
In some cases, compensation for pain and suffering is not an option. These include:
- When the injury happens in a car accident in a state with no-fault laws (or if the driver opted for limited tort coverage in a limited no-fault state like Pennsylvania) and it does not meet the legal threshold to sue
- The claim has already been settled and released; if you accept money after an accident, make sure your attorney is involved because you risk waiving your right to full compensation
Even if it appears that pain and suffering is not available, speak with an experienced attorney who can evaluate your situation.
Discuss your personal injury claim with a lawyer
Whether your injury was caused by an auto accident, a slip and fall, a workplace accident, or by some other incident, if you believe someone else may be to blame, speak with a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney. A skilled lawyer can guide you through the complex claims process so you can focus on regaining your health and getting your life back on track.
At Chaffin Luhana, our caring and committed attorneys have recovered over $1 billion on behalf of their clients who have suffered all types of personal injuries. Consultations are always free and confidential, so call today to schedule yours.