Pain & Suffering Damages: How are They Determined?
If you have been hurt by another person’s negligence, it is usually possible to file a third party claim against the careless party. When filing a claim, you are seeking financial compensation, known as damages, for all your losses. These losses include the medical bills you acquired to treat your injuries, your lost income, and more. However, you can also include damages for pain and suffering within your claim.
Pain and suffering damages will add to the value of a claim, but they are not easy to prove. They also do not have a concrete dollar value, making it difficult to determine how much in pain and suffering damages you deserve. After an accident, it is always wise to speak to a New York City personal injury lawyer that can help you claim the full pain and suffering damages you deserve.
A personal injury lawyer from Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. can advise on your case and if you are eligible for pain and suffering damages. Contact us today to request a free consultation.
What is Pain and Suffering?
The term ‘pain and suffering’ is a legal one that refers to a number of losses the accident victim may have sustained. The term refers to the physical pain accident victims are left in, as well as mental and emotional injuries such as grief, fear, worry, insomnia, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
Due to the fact that third party claims always involve an injury of some sort, pain and suffering damages are almost always awarded. The amount, on the other hand, will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury.
How a Lawyer will Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
There is no one set rule lawyers use when they are calculating a person’s pain and suffering. Most New York City personal injury lawyers will use one of two methods to calculate pain and suffering.
The first is to multiply the accident victim’s economic damages by a certain number. The economic damages a person can receive in a personal injury claim refers to the losses with an actual dollar value, such as medical expenses and lost income. The number a lawyer will use to multiply the economic damages will depend on the severity of the injury. Typically, the number is between one and five and the more severe the injury, the higher the number economic damages are multiplied by.
For example, if an accident victim broke their arm during an accident, they might incur $3,000 in medical expenses. A lawyer may multiply those losses by three when calculating pain and suffering, for a total of $9,000 in pain and suffering damages.
The multiplier method is just one used by lawyers when calculating pain and suffering damages. The other multiplying method used is known as ‘per diem,’ which means ‘per day’ in Latin. Using this method, a lawyer will assign a dollar value amount to the pain and suffering you endure every day as a result of your injuries. That number is then multiplied by the total number of days from the date of your accident until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means your injuries will not become any worse, but they also will not get any better.
Using the same broken arm example as above, a lawyer may determine that you endure $100 worth of pain and suffering every day. A broken arm will usually take approximately eight weeks, or 56 days. As such, you would deserve $5,600 in pain and suffering damages.
How Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering
Insurance companies are not legally required to use the same types of methods lawyers do when they calculate damages for pain and suffering. Insurers often use computer programs to determine the amount of pain and suffering damages included in a settlement offer. The computer programs are usually designed to consider the type and severity of an injury, as well as the medical treatment the accident victim is seeking.
For example, insurers generally consider medical treatment administered by a doctor as a more serious injury than one that requires chiropractic treatment. When calculating pain and suffering damages, the insurer will also consider the length of time the accident victim sought treatment for. If someone is receiving medical treatment the insurer considers excessive for a certain type of injury, they will likely not include all medical treatments when calculating pain and suffering.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering
While you can recover damages for pain and suffering, you must first prove that you have the right to this type of compensation. Many accident victims feel as though this is impossible, as it is difficult to prove how a person feels. Fortunately, it is possible to prove your pain and suffering.
As you recover and receive treatment for your injuries, it is important to take pictures from the time of your accident until the day you reach maximum medical improvement. You should also keep a journal of your physical recovery, as well as your emotional well-being. It is important to write these feelings down during your recovery, as your memories may fade over time. Statements from family members and friends indicating how the injuries have affected your life are also very helpful.
When you are claiming damages for more significant losses, such as depression, insomnia, or increased anxiety, documentation from a mental health professional is also helpful.
Determining What is Fair
After any accident, the insurance company will likely contact you and offer a settlement amount that includes damages for pain and suffering. The first few offers the insurance company makes are usually not enough to fully cover the cost of your injuries and other losses. You can determine if the amount is fair by using one of the methods lawyers use to calculate your damages. The best way to secure a fair settlement offer though, is to work with a New York personal injury lawyer that will communicate with the insurer on your behalf.
Get Legal Help Today
If you have been hurt by pain and suffering in an accident caused by another person’s careless actions, our New York City personal injury lawyers at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. can help you claim the maximum settlement you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.