Suffering a personal injury, such as being in a car accident, often means also suffering significant damages. There are out-of-pocket costs, also called special damages or economic damages, including medical and hospital bills, pharmaceutical costs, mechanic’s bills and other damages to your personal property, and lost wages if you cannot work as a result of your accident. There are also non-economic damages, also called general damages, which are typically harder to quantify. Among many others, they include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and psychological trauma
- The loss of enjoyment of activities you previously enjoyed
- Loss of consortium of your loved one
- Scarring and loss of body parts
- Temporary or permanent limitations on life activities
- The loss of future wages or other economic benefits
What are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Perhaps the most general category of general damages, pain and suffering seeks to compensate the victim of a personal injury for the physical and emotional discomfort they experienced as a result of their injury. A personal injury payout for pain and suffering can refer to a number of different things: pain, aches, discomfort, anguish, and inconvenience; the loss of a bodily function or permanent disability; reduced quality of life; and psychological trauma, just to name a few.
A victim can generally sue for pain and suffering in most types of personal injury cases. Consider the following examples:
- Workplace accident. If you are involved in a workplace accident and suffer a pervasive back injury, you may experience excruciating pain for many months. Pain and suffering damages allow you to recover.
- Car accident. If you get into a car accident and suffer emotional or psychological trauma, pain and suffering damages may be available to compensate you for your anguish.
- Premises Liability accident. If you are injured at a business or on someone else’s property due to a dangerous condition, your damages resulting from that condition may be recoverable.
How are Awards for Pain and Suffering Calculated?
There is no set “magic” formula for calculating pain and suffering for personal injury. Because these damages are difficult to ascertain, during a lawsuit, they are typically left up to the jury to calculate. The jury may look at many different factors in determining the amount of pain and suffering awards: the value of avoiding pain, a cost-benefit analysis, and using a daily rate for the victim’s pain are just some examples.
In negotiating with insurance companies, pain and suffering damages will fall under the umbrella of general damages. Many insurers calculate damages by using a specific multiplier — essentially, a number by which they will multiply your actual, economic losses in order to get to the value of your general damages. The insurance company will generally look at the specifics of your accident and your injuries to determine what the multiplier should be in your case. Many factors can influence this, including the severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery, and the seriousness of your accident, among others.
What's the Process for Receiving a Pain and Suffering Settlement?
Obtaining a pain and suffering award generally entails filing a personal injury claim and negotiating with the other party or their insurance company. Because pain and suffering damages are difficult to establish, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help establish your damages and present them to the jury or insurance company.
Documenting your injuries is essential, as successful documentation can make all the difference in recovering an award for pain and suffering. Keep a daily journal about your experience, noting your level of pain, discomfort, and mental anguish each day. Save all medical documentation, including doctors’ and hospital bills, proof or prescription medication costs, and mental health care records. Your attorney will work with you to prepare documentation required to prove your claim, as well as to plan for testimony from you, your medical providers, or your mental health experts.
During insurance negotiations, your attorney will negotiate for the fairest possible amount of a settlement, including a personal injury settlement for pain and suffering. If negotiations fail and your claim moves to a trial, your attorney will help advocate on your behalf and prove general damages to the jury. It is important to note that asking for pain and suffering damages – so long as establishing and proving pain and suffering is possible – does not decrease your chances of prevailing in your case.
How Can the Francis Firm help?
Getting a lawyer’s advice after a serious accident or personal injury is invaluable. At the Francis Firm, we’ll talk with you about compensatory damages, including pain and suffering. We identify all your specific experiences that establish pain and suffering and explain how we’ll prove them to an insurer or court. Our goal is to obtain a fair settlement which will allow you to continue on the path to recovery. To set up a free, fully confidential consultation, call our Southlake law office today at (817) 617-8639 or contact us online.