Whenever someone suffers an accident or personal injury, they are eligible for different kinds of compensation. Most are self-evident, like money to cover their medical bills or any lost wages due to their not being able to work. However, one that you always hear about, but may not understand, is compensation for pain and suffering.
To some, it may sound like a made-up condition designed to wring more money out of the insurance company, but to anyone who has actually experienced a personal injury, it is a very real thing. If you have experienced a personal injury and want to know how much compensation you are owed for pain and suffering, then you should contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more.
Explaining Pain and Suffering
There are actually two different kinds of pain and suffering: physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering.
Physical Pain and Suffering - This is the kind of pain and suffering that is caused by lingering injuries that take place after the personal injury has occurred. In other words, it is the pain caused by the victim’s physical injuries. This includes pain that they have already suffered and pain that they are likely to suffer in the future as a consequence of their injuries.
Mental Pain and Suffering - This kind of pain and suffering is a little harder to classify because it can be harder to prove. Mental pain and suffering is caused by physical pain and suffering and can include conditions like emotional distress, depression, anxiety, PTSD, the development of phobias, and more. These conditions all stem from the trauma of the accident that caused physical injuries. Even though physical pain and suffering can initially be more serious, mental pain and suffering can persist long after the physical injuries have healed.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
As you would expect, a physical injury is likely to cause physical pain and suffering, but it can lead to mental pain and suffering as well, it all depends on the individual. For example, whiplash caused by a fender bender will always result in physical pain and suffering, but may not necessarily cause mental pain and suffering to one individual, though it may cause that condition in another.
On the other hand, someone could experience a few injured ribs that do not require much treatment. However, those injured ribs could prevent them from participating in certain physical activities that they enjoy. That could lead to depression, difficulty sleeping, and other mental issues. In an extreme example, someone who was in a serious car accident could suffer multiple serious physical injuries, but they could also develop PTSD that is triggered by the location where the crash took place. It is possible for any kind of personal injury to lead to both physical and mental pain and suffering.
Proving Pain and Suffering
In order to prove that you have endured mental and physical pain and suffering, the jury will need to hear from experts in their respective fields who will offer corroboration about your injuries. They can inform the jury or insurance company about what kinds of suffering are associated with certain injuries. So, physical therapists or physicians can attest to the type of physical pain and suffering caused by the injuries.
In the case of mental pain and suffering, you can call witnesses like therapists to testify on your behalf. They may not be able to get into specifics because of confidentiality reasons, but they can let the jury or insurance company know that you have been suffering mental issues because of the personal injury. Friends and family can also testify to let the jury know how much the victim has changed since the injury occurred. The attorney will also make sure to make a connection between a specific physical injury and the mental anguish caused by that injury.
As long as you visited a doctor or medical professional, you will be in a good position because the insurance company will realize that you would only go to the doctor because you were suffering from your injuries. The insurance company will also realize that you would be unlikely to skip work to get treatment if you did not experience any pain and suffering because of the personal injury.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
There are a few different methods used to calculate how much compensation someone should receive for the pain and suffering caused by a personal injury. They are as follows.
The Per Diem Method - Per diem is Latin for per day and it means that a fixed amount of money is to be paid every day from the time that the accident occurred, to when the victim reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the period when the victim’s medical treatment has plateaued and they cannot be expected to recover any further. So if it is determined that the victim should receive $150 per day until they reach MMI, then the final total will be $150 multiplied by the number of days of their recovery.
The Multiplier Method - This is when the value of the pain and suffering is deemed to be worth a multiple of the cost of taking care of the injury. That multiple is usually between 1.5 and 5 times the cost of the damages received by the victim. So, if the damages received by the victim amount to $3000 and the multiplier is 3, then their pain and suffering is determined to be worth $9000, which then gets added to the original number, meaning that the victim gets $12,000 total. The multiplier is determined by the insurance company and the victim’s personal injury attorney, the more severe the injuries, the higher the multiplier will be. However, this method is mainly used in cases where the total compensation is below $50,000.
Alternative Methods - There are other methods that insurance companies will use to determine how much money for pain and suffering someone should receive. From using complex computer programs to relying on past pain and suffering payouts as a guide, you can be sure that their goal is to pay out as little as possible. That is why an experienced personal injury attorney is necessary to negotiate on their client’s behalf.
Make Sure You Get The Compensation You Deserve
As you can see, determining how much compensation someone should receive for pain and suffering can be a complicated process mainly because it is so subjective. But it is a necessary process because pain and suffering are a part of any personal injury and they need to be taken care of just as much as the physical injuries do.
You need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney if you want the best chance of receiving the proper compensation for any pain and suffering. Unlike the insurance company, a personal injury attorney will have your best interests in mind and will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.