Following injuries in a serious accident, you, as the victim, may want to know how much money you can expect. How much can you sue for pain and suffering? The answer varies. Consult a personal injury attorney to get a better idea of how much money you should expect for pain and suffering following your accident.
What is Pain and Suffering?
In a generic sense, pain and suffering represent exactly that: the pain and suffering that goes along with an injury. Following an accident, however, the term “pain and suffering” has a much deeper meaning.
In a personal injury claim following an accident caused by the negligence of another party, including car accidents, slip and falls, construction accidents, and product liability accidents, damages usually get divided into two types: special damages and general damages.
Special damages include tangible expenses after an accident: your medical bills, wages lost at work because of your injuries, and any other financial damages you can specifically layout.
General damages, on the other hand, are more abstract. Pain and suffering, or the suffering you face as a result of your accident, can prove much more difficult to calculate.
Pain and suffering usually fall into two categories: physical suffering, including the pain of your injuries, and mental anguish. Many injury victims face both. Consider, for example, a slip and fall accident that results in a broken hip. The physical pain from such an accident can prove excruciating.
Many victims struggle to either stand or sit due to the pain of their injuries. Most victims need surgery to treat their injuries, and pain may linger long after the initial accident.
In addition to the physical pain, victims with broken hips may face substantial emotional anguish. Many elderly victims, following a broken hip, never regain their former capability, including their ability to care for themselves. They may need to move into a nursing home or have to give up activities they once enjoyed.
Due to their lack of mobility, victims may also suffer from social isolation: they cannot get out and spend time with the people they care about. Many seniors with broken hips suffer just as much emotional devastation as they do physical.
Pain and suffering usually get based on a percentage of the special damages from the claim—that is, the medical expenses, lost wages, and other tangible financial expenses. Often, the term “pain and suffering multiplier” is used, because the other damages from the claim get multiplied by the pain and suffering multiplier to arrive at the amount the victim will receive.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?
There is no clear pain and suffering calculator, either for a judge and jury or for an insurance company. Typically, pain and suffering get based on a percentage of your special damages: usually between 1.5 and 5 times the special damages from your claim.
The law does not provide guidelines concerning how to calculate those amounts. However, several elements often come into play when determining the amount awarded for pain and suffering.
How severe were your injuries?
Severe injuries typically cause more suffering, in terms of both physical pain and mental anguish, than minor injuries.
For example, if you suffered severe burns in an auto accident, you may go through considerably more physical pain than if you break your wrist. Burns usually cause severe, ongoing pain, more serious than other types of injuries.
Severe burns can also leave behind substantial scarring, which may increase mental anguish for many victims. Those severe injuries usually leave you with the right to greater compensation for pain and suffering.
How did your injuries impact you?
In addition to the suffering assumed due to your injuries, an attorney can work with you to assess exactly how your injuries and your suffering impact every area of your life.
Your specific profession, hobbies, and activities, or mental and emotional response to your injuries can have a substantial impact on how much you suffer.
Permanent disability can also increase the compensation you can claim for pain and suffering since permanent disability means you may deal with the impacts of the accident for the rest of your life.
Imagine, for example, that you suffered incomplete spinal cord damage in an accident. You can still move around, but you have stilted movement patterns and struggle to move quickly. As a result, you can no longer participate in sports or many other activities.
An active individual who regularly engages in sports and other activities may have more emotional trauma related to those injuries than an individual who typically remains relatively sedentary, or whose favorite hobbies include video games, television, or reading.
Likewise, a young parent may struggle more with those limitations due to its impact on his time with his children, while an older individual may miss fewer activities that he must limit due to the implications of those injuries.
Mental anguish may also vary depending on your response to an accident. Some victims struggle with severe PTSD following an auto accident, for example. They may have trouble even getting in a car or driving past the site of the accident. Others may have little trouble with their emotions and must only deal with the physical injuries from the accident.
Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to get a better idea of how you should include pain and suffering in your personal injury claim. An experienced attorney can also help assess how your injuries impact you.
What protection does the insurance policy that covers the liable party offer in the event of an accident?
Pain and suffering often represent the largest percentage of a personal injury claim.
However, if you have extensive medical expenses, the insurance policy that covers the liable party may not offer enough protection to cover the full amount. Consult with an attorney to learn more about the likely insurance coverage of the liable party and how it has the potential to influence your claim.
How much evidence can you provide of your pain and suffering?
When it comes to personal injury claims, documentation and evidence go a long way toward helping your claim. You may need to provide clear evidence of how your injuries impact your life. Evidence may include:
- Statements from a doctor
- Medical records or bills
- Witness testimony
- Photos of your injuries
In many personal injury claims, the insurance company will attempt to minimize the compensation it provides as much as possible. Without evidence, you cannot prove your suffering. As a result, the insurance company may not offer the compensation you feel you deserve for those injuries.
An Attorney Can Help
Following a serious accident, an attorney can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, from assessing the terms of your accident to providing you with a better idea of how much compensation you deserve. Contact The Joel Bieber Law Firm today to learn more about your legal rights or to ask questions about the compensation you deserve.