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How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Determined?

As an attorney with over 25 years of experience practicing personal injury law, I’m frequently asked, “What is pain and suffering?”

The best explanation is to put yourself in the shoes of someone injured because of someone else’s carelessness: a quickly complicated and expensive situation. In addition to the medical bills you have incurred and lost income (defined as “economic damage“) you are experiencing pain and injuries that limit you from living the life you want.

Who knows the long-term implications of your injury? Who knows how long the pain will last? These thoughts and that pain are all pain and suffering. 

The trouble with pain and suffering cases is that everything can be abstract. I put together this quick guide to help break it down based on experience in the courtroom.

What is “Pain and Suffering?”

Pain and suffering is a legal term referring to all the “non-economic” injuries you may have suffered due to the accident. 

It includes physical pain and emotional and mental injuries such as fear, grief, insomnia, and worry. Pain and suffering include the loss of enjoyment of life and your inability to carry on your normal activities. 

In almost every case, the injured person should be able to recover compensation for their pain and suffering, and how much that depends entirely on the case itself.

At FLT Law, we use two methods to calculate pain and suffering.

The first method is multiplying your actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a specific number, generally between 1 and 5. That number depends on the severity of the injury and the ongoing problems that you’re experiencing from the injury. 

The second method is the per diem (Latin for per day) approach. For this, a certain dollar amount is assigned every day from the day of the accident until recovery is reached. 

Insurance companies are not obligated to use either of these methods and usually do not. Insurance companies face no strict rules for calculating pain and suffering.

They often employ computer programs to determine how much settlement covers pain and suffering. These programs consider the type of injury and the kind of medical treatment sought.

For example, insurance companies frequently consider medical treatment by a physician to signify a more serious injury than treatment by a chiropractor. 

Remember that if the insurance company deems the treatment excessive for your type of injury, it will not include all of the treatment in its calculation.

Proving Pain and Suffering

Damages for pain and suffering are recoverable – but it depends on how well the injured party’s attorney can prove your case.  

You’ll need to prepare the best documentation possible to improve your chances for a satisfactory outcome.

Keep documentation such as photos, medical records, and personal journals recording your physical and emotional feelings. Keep and hold onto all evidence.

Friends and family also provide additional evidence. Proof of treatment by a mental health professional is also mandatory if you are claiming injuries like anxiety, insomnia, or depression.

The best defense against an insurance company unwilling to bend in their assessment of your injuries is having a lot of documentation. 

What is Fair? 

When an insurance company makes a settlement offer, how do you know what’s fair?

You must remember that to them, your claim is business. They want to resolve it efficiently, effectively, and in a cost-saving way. The insurance company will be quick about settling and push for you to accept their initial offer.

Remember, you do not have to accept it, and here is where working closely with your attorney makes a big difference.

With our knowledge of the facts, proper documentation, and calculation with the multiplier or per Diem methods, we have a good idea of the appropriate settlement amount. Another factor that will help us judge the settlement’s fairness is the permanence of your injury.

Here is How a Recent “Pain and Suffering” Settlement Worked: 

We recently represented a young man injured when a vehicle on a highway lost control and struck the vehicle that he was standing next to. The vehicle struck him and came to rest on top of him in a ditch. 

His injuries could be classified as “soft tissue,” as he received no broken bones or ruptured discs.

The insurance company did not offer even the cost of medical care to settle the case, and they claimed the medical treatment was excessive.

We took the case to trial, and because we worked closely with the client, medical providers, and witnesses, we presented to the jury an accurate picture of just how these “soft tissue” injuries affected his life and continued to do so. 

The jury returned with an award for pain and suffering over five times the medical expenses. Without our legal team’s proper documentation and support, this young man would not have received the compensation he deserved.

Experiencing pain and suffering? Call FLT Law today.

The attorneys at FLT Law want to make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering compensation for you – while you concentrate on your physical and emotional recovery. 

If you or a loved one is injured or a victim of an unsafe product or the negligence of others, please call my office at 312-757-8265 or contact us using the form below.

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William Turner
William J. Turner

William Turner has represented hundreds of working men and women who have been victims of the negligence of others – gaining equitable compensation for the medical expenses and pain and suffering for his clients. He concentrates his practice in the trial of complex personal injury cases, including car and truck accidents, construction mishaps, medical malpractice, dog and animal attacks, nursing home abuse, and slip-and-falls. Additionally, he offers niche counsel and advocacy for workers who are injured on a job.

William has obtained judgements from juries in approximately 150 cases and has secured fair and comprehensive settlements in even more over his career. William Turner has dedicated his professional life to fighting for the rights of those who are injured as a result of the negligent acts of others.

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