What is Pain & Suffering?
The legal term pain and suffering refers to physical and emotional injuries a victim suffers following an accident.
Although suffering an injury can be significantly painful at the time of an accident, the pain can continue to linger long after the accident. Many accident victims, unfortunately, suffer injuries that result in permanent pain and suffering which alter their life and cause disability.
The following are some examples of physical injuries that can result in pain and suffering compensation:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Neck and back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Dislocated joints
- Sprained or strained muscles
- Internal organ damage
The physical injuries and the accompanying pain and disability after an accident may lead to severe short-term and long-term mental and emotional distress which can be part of the non-economic damages that can be recovered in an out-of-court settlement or by a jury verdict.
Several examples of emotional pain and suffering include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional distress
- Cognitive changes after a brain or head injury
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
How to Prove Pain & Suffering
While economic damages are easy to identify, proving pain and suffering can be quite complex since calculating the amount of pain someone feels after an accident is not always easy. Injured accident victims must provide ample medical documentation and evidence to the insurance company and expert medical testimony for a judge and jury in order to demonstrate the true pain and suffering endured because of the accident.
Common forms of documentation and evidence related to pain and suffering include:
- Medical records, including physical rehabilitation and therapy sessions
- The list of medications for physical and mental pain prescribed following the accident
- Written notes and opinions from medical providers
- Expert testimony and opinions from unbiased medical witnesses
- Journal entries detailing the amount of pain the victim experiences daily
- Testimony from friends and family members describing the amount of pain you endure daily
Calculating Pain & Suffering
Insurers, juries, and judges will consider several factors in order to calculate how much to award an accident victim for pain and suffering. Common factors include the seriousness of the injury, the damage to the accident vehicles if the injury was caused in an auto accident, how much the injuries affect the victim’s life, how much pain and suffering other people endured with similar injuries and the settlements and verdicts for those kinds of injuries, the level of negligence by the defendant, and how long will the injury take the heal (if ever).
There are two common ways to determine compensation for pain and suffering:
- The multiplier method – This approach involves adding all economic damages and then multiplying that figure by a number between 1.5 and 4 or 5 (1.5 being the lowest and 4 or 5 being the highest), which is known as the multiplier. This number depends on the factors mentioned above. For example, if the jury awards you $50,000 in economic damages and uses a multiplier of 3, then pain and suffering would total $100,000. Most experienced personal injury lawyers resist the “multiplier method” to determine the pain and suffering award. Insurance companies like to use this method because it is simple and arbitrary. An accident victim may lose an eye in an accident and the medical bills can be less than $20,000. The potential jury verdict for the loss of an eye can be over several million dollars and it would be ridiculous to value the loss of an eye at 4 or 5 times the amount of the medical bills. Attorney Barry Regar would never settle a case for the loss of an eye using a multiplier of 5 times the amount of the medical bills.
- The per diem method – “Per diem” is Latin for “per day.” Therefore, this approach assigns a specific dollar amount for every day a victim had to live with the pain he/she suffered from an accident to the date of “maximum medical improvement,” which is the date in which the victim has completely healed or when a healthcare provider determines that their condition will not improve any more than it has now after the accident. This method also calculates how long the suffering will last. If the evidence demonstrates that the injuries and pain and suffering will be permanent then that person’s life expectancy is used to arrive at the total pain and suffering award by multiplying the number of years the victim will live times the per diem amount.
An experienced personal injury attorney like Barry Regar knows the potential reasonable dollar value of settlements and jury verdicts for pain and suffering experienced by his clients. With more than 40 years of legal experience, Barry Regar APLC has recovered more than $83 million on behalf of our clients.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by negligence in Palm Springs, CA, or within the surrounding area, call Barry Regar APLC at (760) 440-5643 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. You do not pay anything unless we win your case!