Proving Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case
Learn how attorneys, juries, and insurance companies put a dollar amount on pain and suffering.
Virtually every personal injury case includes some provision for compensation for “pain and suffering.” But what exactly is this pain and suffering? How can it be described and quantified? In some cases, it seems almost impossible to put a dollar amount on the pain caused by a wrongful death or a serious brain injury that leaves the victim impaired all their life. However, for the purposes of reaching agreements with insurance companies or petitioning for damages in court, it is necessary to determine a dollar amount. Here is some important information to help you understand this process.
Proving the Existence of Pain and Suffering
First and foremost, in any personal injury case it is necessary to prove that injuries exist and were directly caused by the liable party’s actions. These injuries are most often physical injuries such as fractures, lacerations, burns, back injuries, head injuries, etc., but they can also have an emotional or mental component in cases where the accident or its aftermath was traumatic to the victim. For proving pain and suffering from physical injuries, detailed medical records as well as photos of the injuries and the healing process are essential. For proving emotional or mental anguish, a journal kept by the victim, testimony from their friends and family, or proof of visits to a mental health professional can all be used as evidence. In cases where the damage from the injury is not easily visible, it may be necessary to get a technical expert to help the jury understand the extent and impact of the injury.
Two Methods for Calculating Damages
There are two main methods for calculating the amount of pain and suffering damages that may be appropriate in a personal injury case. The first method is the multiplier method. In this method, the actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) are multiplied by a number from 1 to 5, depending on the severity of the injury and associated hardship. The other method is the per diem method. In this method, a certain amount (say $100) is added to the pain and suffering damages for every day that passes between the accident and full recovery.
The above methods are just guidelines and can be altered in cases where special considerations may be at play. For example, in the case of an injury that leaves a facial scar, increased pain and suffering damages may be sought in order to account for the permanent negative impact of the injury on the person’s self-esteem.
If you have been given a settlement offer from an insurance company, you really should get an experienced personal injury attorney to review it prior to accepting. At the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, we can help with this activity as well as with preparing claims for court.