“Pain and suffering” is a legal term that includes physical pain and emotional distress that resulted from an accident. Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage, and it will vary significantly depending on your individual situation. This variance is due to the simple fact that each set of circumstances requires a different amount of dollar damages for pain or emotional distress. It is also considered a “general damage.”
Keep in mind that pain and suffering damages are separate from damages that are used to treat your pain and suffering, that is, medical expenses or medication expenses. Those damages are economic because they can be easily quantified into a specific dollar amount. Medical expenses are considered “special damages” because they include the actual costs of services received.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Because pain and suffering is a non-economic damage, it can be difficult to prove or to show how much the pain and suffering is actually worth. Your injury lawyer may use a variety of methods to prove your pain and suffering. The most common method, however, is getting you up on the witness stand to talk about the pain you felt and, in some situations, explain how the lingering pain has affected your life. Other evidence might include:
- Expert testimony on how much pain an average patient would feel with injuries similar to yours
- Introduce personal journals
- Provide statements that you made to friends and family about your condition
- Photographs of the injury
- Proof of treatment by physicians, mental health professionals, etc.
- Medical records
How Does my Insurance Company Calculate Pain and Suffering?
Insurance companies will vary on how they calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering. It is also important to keep in mind that an insurance company does not have the final say in how much your pain and suffering is worth. If you disagree with your insurance company, you always have the right to have a jury decide the value of your case. However, insurance adjusters will use two primary methods. Each of these methods considers the following factors:
- Seriousness of the injury
- Liability of the insured
- Any required future medical treatment
Each method will also usually implicitly consider whether the jury in that particular area (i.e., juries in St. Louis), is especially prone to award considerable pain and suffering damages.
The Multiplier Method
The first method uses information from actual medical expenses paid. Depending on the severity of the injury, the adjuster may assign a multiplier to your particular case. The total medical expenses are then multiplied by this designated multiplier, and that number is the amount that they are willing to award for pain and suffering damages. This is common insurance company tactic and is a very bad way to properly value pain and suffering.
The Per Diem Method
Under the second method, the adjuster will assign you an amount per day for your pain and suffering. For example, if the amount is $100 per day, then the adjuster will multiply $100 by however many days that they deem you were experiencing the described pain or suffering. If the injury is permanent or long term, however, the insurance company will not want to use this method, as it will result in too much money being paid out.
Determining how much you should get from a settlement offer is tricky. Contact an experienced St. Louis injury lawyer before accepting any settlement offers. Chris Dixon at the Dixon Injury Firm will review your case and help you decide what your pain and suffering is worth and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call today!