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How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Personal Injury Settlement?

Personal Injury Lawyers in Florida

If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence—whether it be in a car accident, slip-and-fall, or any other personal injury case—you can usually pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. This called a third-party claim.

After establishing that the defendant is, in fact, at-fault, you will then need to prove your financial losses so that you can rightfully claim the money you need to rebuild your life. The money for these losses is known as damages, and there are a few different kinds.

‘Special’ damages are those that are easily calculated. They have an obvious monetary value. This includes things like medical bills and lost wages. It is much easier to assess a value when you can say, “I have this bill plus this bill plus this many days missed from work (times what you would make in a day, of course)”. The point is, putting a monetary value on special damages is a simpler process.

In addition to medical bills and lost wages, the insurance company should also provide you with some compensation for what is called general’ damages. A good example of general damages is “pain and suffering.” This article discusses what pain and suffering are when an insurance company will provide compensation for pain and suffering, and how these kinds of damages are calculated. We will begin by looking at the definition of pain and suffering, how a settlement is calculated, and how a pain and suffering settlement is calculated.

What is pain and suffering?

Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to different injuries that the injured party may suffer from as a result of an accident. It includes both physical pain, and emotional and mental injuries, such as fear, insomnia, grief, worry, inconvenience, loss of love life, and the loss of the enjoyment of life. It can include some, or all, of these—or even some things not on the list.

It is basically financial compensation for having to “go through” certain things that you otherwise would not have had to if it wasn’t for the accident. In minor incidents, it is compensation for the inconvenience; in major cases, it is compensation for the agony and suffering. For example, your medical bills may be covered, but that doesn’t compensate you for the pain of never being able to pick up your grandchild again. It makes perfect sense if you think about it in that way.

When does an insurance company compensate for pain and suffering?

In most cases where the another party was clearly at fault, the injured party will receive at least some compensation for their pain and suffering. Most insurance companies recognize that people who are injured in a car accident deserve something for their pain and inconvenience. Often, the amount insurance carriers try to get away with, at first, is very low. But with proper attorney representation, this number can be raised to reach an acceptable sum.

Insurance companies take into account a number of factors when trying to calculate what they should offer for pain and suffering. This includes:

  • The severity of the injuries
  • The pain and overall discomfort that is associated with those types of injuries
  • How the injuries have impacted your life, job, relationships, etc.
  • The amount and types of medical treatment those injuries require
  • How long those injuries take to heal
  • If the injured will need future care, like therapy, medications, surgeries, etc.

It is easy to see how the above factors can become very subjective.

How to calculate pain and suffering?

Negotiating a settlement for a car accident or personal injury claim requires that you calculate a reasonable amount of money that you would accept to resolve your claim. Most insurance companies and injury attorneys rely on some type of formula to give them an idea what a case is worth. This is true for almost all types of injury cases.

One method is called the multiplier method:

(Medical bills, both past and future) X (multiplier)

+

(Total of Economic Damages, like medical bills, property damage, lost wages, etc.)

= Reasonable Value of Case

A multiplier is a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injuries. This is based on the idea that your pain and suffering is worth at least 1.5 times the economic cost of repairing that injury.

In order to decide what the multiplier is, the insurance company and your attorney will assess the above factors to determine how serious your injuries, and thus your pain and suffering, are. The more severe, the more your number is multiplied by.

For example, if a person has $4,000 in medical bills because of a torn ligament, they might multiply that amount by two. This would determine their pain and suffering value to be $8,000.

Often, the plaintiff and the insurance company will have different ideas about how high or low the multiplier should be. The insurance company is always low, of course; and the plaintiff is usually a little high.

Another method to calculate the value of pain and suffering is called the per diem method:

Some insurance companies and attorneys use the per diem method. ‘Per diem’ is Latin for ‘per day.’ It is easy to guess how this method is calculated.

Using this method, a certain dollar amount is paid for each day from the time of the accident until the patient reaches maximum medical improvement.

This number is often a reasonable sum, like $100 per day.

For example, if someone gets into a car accident on May 5, and they are deemed to have recovered after a cast and some physical therapy on October 20, then 169 days would have past. Using the per diem method, 169 days times $100 a day equals $16,900.

Which one will be used?

It should be noted that insurance companies are under no obligation to use these methods while calculating pain and suffering. Many companies use complicated computer programs to decide how much should be offered for pain and suffering. These programs take into account all of the above factors and some others that most people wouldn’t think about.

For example, insurance companies will most likely consider injuries treated by a doctor or specialist to be more serious than injuries treated by a chiropractor. Insurance companies will also do their own reasoning to negate some of the most concrete concepts, like the length of treatment. If they think you didn’t need to your doctor for that last appointment, they will not include that time in the pain and suffering calculation.

How can an attorney increase the amount awarded for pain and suffering?

Proving damages for pain and suffering is one of the more important ways to ensure you receive a fair amount. The more evidence you have, the better. It is also one of the most complex issues that arise in a personal injury case.

Ensuring that you have the necessary documentary evidence—medical records; witness statements to establish the full scope of your pain and suffering; and expert testimony to verify your injuries and the pain they are causing youare matters that we have years of experience handling.

We fully review every detail of your case in order to provide you with the best possible counseling and exceptional representation. We have handled thousands of pain and suffering claims. It is really only a matter of thoroughly documenting all of the above, and understanding the ways in which insurance companies think.

Unlike other Florida law firms that handle similar personal injury cases, we focus on the quality of representation, rather than quantity of clients. We do take pride in the number of injured victims with whom we’ve had the privilege of representing, but we take more pride in their level of satisfaction.

Let us help you maximize the pain and suffering amount of your claim. Call us today for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/