Serious accidents often cause victims substantial, ongoing pain and suffering. Victims face emotional distress, severe physical pain, and other serious challenges.
As you fight to rebuild your life after an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you may wonder how much an insurance company will pay for your pain and suffering. The answer depends on the specifics of your accident and your claim. Read on to learn more from our experienced personal injury lawyers.
How Do Lawyers Calculate the Value of Pain and Suffering?
Lawyers use two main methods to calculate compensation for pain and suffering:
Lawyers often look at pain and suffering as a percentage of the tangible financial losses victims sustained in an accident. For example, suppose a claim includes $200,000 in special damages. Depending on the victim’s actual losses and the challenges they may have faced, the lawyer may request between 1.5x and 4x those special damages to compensate for pain and suffering.
Per Diem Calculations
Lawyers may also use a per diem strategy to calculate compensation for pain and suffering. A per diem calculation uses a daily rate multiplied by the number of days it takes to recover from accident-related injuries. The per diem calculations typically end when a doctor deems that the victim has reached maximum medical improvement from their injuries. Sometimes, that means making a full recovery. In other cases, that may mean attaining a “new normal.”
Seven Question To Ask To Determine The Value of Pain & Suffering
Talk to your lawyer about the specific losses you have faced because of your accident. Your lawyer may ask several questions to help determine the potential value of your pain and suffering claim, such as:
1. What injuries did you suffer in the accident?
Often, severe injuries cause substantial suffering. Suppose, for example, that a person suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident. Complete spinal cord injuries frequently cause paralysis below the injury site—many victims need wheelchairs or other mobility devices. A spinal cord injury victim may have a long road to recovery, ongoing medical costs, and physical limitations that prevent them from engaging in many activities they enjoyed before the accident.
2. How long did it take your injuries to heal, including any setbacks?
Some injuries have a long road to recovery. Doctors might not even know how long it will take you to recover from your injuries until you start the recovery process and see what setbacks and complications you encounter.
Consider the path to recovery for traumatic brain injury patients, for example. Some may recover within days of the accident. However, other patients with even minor brain trauma may experience symptoms years later. The longer a person’s road to recovery, the more compensation they may claim for pain and suffering.
3. What limitations do your injuries pose?
Some victims sustain few limitations after an accident. For example, a broken arm could interfere with independence and mobility for a few days, but many patients quickly learn to cope with those limitations. On the other hand, multiple broken bones could substantially affect daily life. Spinal cord injuries could result in permanent restrictions, including mobility challenges and difficulty with self-care tasks.
4. How do those limitations change your life?
Even people who sustain similar injuries respond differently to their accidents. Likewise, how those injuries change their lives depends on their hobbies, activities, habits, and needs.
Suppose, for example, that a person spends most of their free time programming computers. If they suffer a spinal cord injury, they might still enjoy this hobby, both during and after recovery. On the other hand, if they suffer a brain injury, they might be unable to engage in the activity they enjoy most.
Severe scarring would not pose a substantial limitation for some people. Others, however, might suffer from immense emotional distress and even avoid going out in public because of the scarring. They might lose self-esteem.
While some patients learn to maintain independence despite their injuries, others may struggle. Talk to your lawyer about how your accident changed your daily life. Your lawyer can help you determine how your limitations will affect your claim for pain and suffering.
5. Do you have any psychological conditions related to your accident and your injuries?
After a severe accident, people often struggle with psychological conditions, including PTSD, depression, and anxiety. The loss of independence or the loss of favorite activities, for example, can cause many people to suffer from immense depression. People who feel very self-conscious about their injuries may struggle to go out in public or interact with others, particularly if they have a bad experience early after the accident.
If a professional diagnosed you with a psychological condition related to the accident, speak to your lawyer about including this in a pain and suffering claim.
6. What activities, events, or occasions have you missed due to your accident?
Many people find that severe injuries prevent them from engaging in some activities. You may have difficulty getting out of the house, or your accident might prevent you from enjoying time with friends and family.
You might miss parties, events, or special occasions. Your injuries might cause you to miss out on specific opportunities, especially in the days immediately after the accident, when you may have a more challenging time dealing with pain or managing your limitations. Talk to your lawyer about the events you have missed because of your accident.
7. How have your injuries impacted your relationships with loved ones?
Often, severe and catastrophic injuries affect relationships with loved ones. You may find, for example, that your spouse struggles with becoming your caregiver or that you have a more challenging time caring for your children because of your injuries. Many people find that relationships with friends change after an injury, especially if they require additional care or miss out on shared activities that once helped bind those friendships together.
Discuss how your relationships have suffered due to your injuries with your lawyer. Share information about lost friendships, challenges in your marriage, or difficulties relating to your kids. The more significantly your injuries have affected your relationships, the more your injuries will affect you emotionally.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Claim Pain and Suffering After an Accident?
Many people think that they may have the ability to handle their injury claims alone. You may fear that working with a lawyer will limit the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries, and with high medical bills piling up, that can feel daunting.
In reality, however, working with a lawyer offers many advantages:
A lawyer can help you understand how much compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Many accident victims do not realize how much compensation they deserve for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering do not have a direct financial correlation, so it can be challenging to calculate. Victims may also forget to account for how their injuries caused pain and suffering after the accident. By clearly identifying sources of pain and suffering, you can get a better idea of how much compensation you should expect from a claim.
A lawyer can create a compelling argument to increase the odds you will recover compensation.
Insurance companies often remove the human element from a personal injury claim calculation. They want to devalue or deny as many claims as possible, limiting what victims can recover for pain and suffering.
A lawyer will bring the human element back to the forefront by clearly establishing the compensation a victim deserves for their suffering. A clear, compelling argument can make it easier to recover needed compensation.
A lawyer can help fight for you as you seek compensation for all elements of your claim.
Do not attempt to manage a personal injury claim alone. Taking on an insurance company yourself can leave you feeling out of your element or struggling to get the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can fight for you, from negotiating directly with the insurance company to taking your claim to court when the insurance company will not pay out the compensation you deserve. Many people find that working with a lawyer increases the payment they can recover substantially, even considering legal fees.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn More About How Pain and Suffering Affect Your Claim
You may not know how to calculate how much money you should recover for pain and suffering after an accident. Speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer can give you a better idea of how much compensation you might deserve. Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights and how pain and suffering may influence your injury claim.