We’ve all heard the elusive phrase “pain and suffering” tossed around in conversations, court TV programs, legal documents, and more. It’s a real thing, but one that can be challenging to quantify. Pain and suffering isn’t always physical, which is where it gets tricky to describe. Some people might find it hard to adequately describe what emotional pain and suffering feels like, or to define it as precisely as they might want. It can be equally difficult to calculate precisely how much pain and suffering costs in a personal injury case. Whether you’ve been in a traffic accident, had a fall, or something in between, there are two types of damages to which you may be entitled. “Damages” is the term used to describe losses for which someone must compensate you. Economic, or special, damages are everything that’s easy to measure, such as lost income, medical bills and anything else that has already been assigned a dollar value. General damages include things like pain and suffering, which can mean physical discomfort, but also anxiety and emotional distress that stem from the accident or from your injuries. Insurance companies come at this conundrum a couple of different ways. One way, and arguably the most commonly utilized, involves adding up all the special damages that are easy to quantify and multiplying the sum by a number, generally between 1.5 and 5. How high the multiplier is depends on your case. The more items in the list below that can be proven, the higher the multiplier will be:
- Fault for the accident is obvious and almost completely at the hands of the other party.
- Injuries are easy to observe and detect by a medical expert.
- Injuries are dramatic and obviously painful, such as a fracture or tear that requires surgery or that cannot ever be successfully repaired.
- Diagnosis and treatment comes from physicians and hospitals.
- Recovery took/will take 6 months or longer.
- There are medically documented permanent consequences, such as immobility, pain, or weakness.
- Your physicians clearly indicate that your injuries will cause recurring, degenerative, or future problems.