“Pain and Suffering” What is it and how is it Calculated?
Sept. 22, 2021
Pain and Suffering is a key part of personal injury cases. If you suffered personal injuries, for example in a car accident, that was not the fault of your own, you as the plaintiff could receive compensation. It is important as a plaintiff to understand this integral part of your personal injury case. This article talks about the different types of of pain and suffering and how it is calculated.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a type of legal remedy in the form of monetary compensation. As the injured party, you could receive “damages” (a legal remedy in the form of money) from the at-fault party. These damages can include “pain and suffering.” Essentially, pain and suffering can compensate a plaintiff for having to “go through” their injuries. This includes the physical, mental, and emotional effects of the plaintiff’s injuries.
What are the Types of Pain and Suffering?
There are two main types of pain and suffering.
The first is physical pain and suffering, which includes current and future pains. Physical pain and suffering includes things like broken limbs, sores, aches, numbness, headaches, neck pain, back pain, and more.
The second type is mental pain and suffering. This includes any mental suffering as a result of a plaintiff’s injuries. For example, emotional distress, anger, fear, and anxiety can all be included in mental pain and suffering. Any negative emotion that results from the accident or injury can be included in here. Additionally, severe mental pain and suffering can cause an inability to return to work, depression, PTSD, and other more serious effects that a plaintiff can be rewarded for as well. Mental pain and suffering also includes current and future pains.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering?
The amount or existence of a pain and suffering award depends on a plaintiff’s circumstances, the facts of the case, and the severity of the injuries sustained. Typically a plaintiff will have to produce medical bills and evidence of lost wages among proof of other harm the plaintiff has endured as a result of the accident in order to receive pain and suffering. Proof can also come in the form of witness testimony confirming a plaintiff’s pain and or suffering. This testimony can come from a boss, family members, or friends who have seen the effect the accident has had on a plaintiff’s life. Additionally, a physician or therapist is useful because of their ability to attest to the physical and mental injuries the plaintiff sustained.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?
Pain and Suffering is more difficult to calculate than actual damages which are based on proven harm, loss, or injury suffered. Actual damages would be the medical bills a plaintiff had to pay for their injuries or the actual amount of lost wages or incomes. Pain and suffering damages are more arbitrary and are unique and subjective depending on the circumstances of the pain and suffering accumulated by a plaintiff. Judges do not typically give juries explicit guidelines on how to determine a value of pain and suffering. Usually, juries are instructed to use good judgment and their background and experience to come up with a fair and reasonable amount to compensate the plaintiff based on that plaintiff’s circumstances, injuries, and facts of the case.
Sometimes juries use a “multiplier” to determine the amount of pain and suffering to award a plaintiff. Juries will multiple a plaintiff’s medical bills and lost earnings by somewhere typically between 1.5 and 4 times the value of those bills and loss of earnings. This is a rough estimate and is usually only used in minor injury cases. Because this method is a rough estimate, it should be used with discretion.
“Per Diem” Method
A “per diem” method is another method that is sometimes used to calculate pain and suffering. This method assigns a monetary amount every day the victim suffered injuries since the accident until the day of “maximum medical improvement,” – a point when a plaintiff’s medical position cannot improve any further either because they are healed or because they will never reach better health.
In addition to the two methods discussed above, a wide array of factors are taken into consideration when determining the value of pain and suffering. A lot of these factors surround plaintiff’s behavior throughout the trial such as the plaintiff’s credibility, trustworthiness, consistency in their statements, truthfulness, and whether the plaintiff appears to exaggerate their claims. Additionally, courts will look to how the injuries and accident will impact the plaintiff’s life, the plaintiff’s employment, how long it will take the plaintiff to heal, and past, current, and future medical bills. Finally, the court will look at the egregiousness, recklessness, or negligent behavior by the defendant.
An Attorney Can Help Navigate
If you were injured in a car crash that was caused by someone else, the best way to recover is to focus on you and your health. You can focus better on your health if you let an experienced attorney to handle stress that comes with a car crash, work with insurance companies, and try to get a fair settlement. Find an experience personal injury attorney to help you navigate this complex process. Call Mark Grover with the Grover Law Firm at 913-432-1000 to set up your free consultation.
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