Pain scale represented by face icons used for medical diagnostics.

Pain and Suffering

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Compensation When There's No Bill

If you’ve suffered an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you should be compensated for medical bills, lost wages from work, and future lost earnings. These things are easy to tally up and are referred to as special damages. But injuries cause more than stress to your wallet. How do you put a price on missing your niece’s wedding because you were in the hospital? How do you recoup the losses of not being able to knit, drive at night, or hold your grandchild, on account of your injury? These types of losses are called general damages, and are included in the determination of what’s known as “pain and suffering.” So how can you put a price tag on pain and suffering?

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is usually calculated by multiplying your economic or “special” damages by a factor of anywhere from 1.5 to 5. For example, if you’ve suffered a minor accident with a quick recovery time, your pain and suffering might be two times whatever your medical bills and lost wages totaled. Conversely, if you’ve suffered a very serious injury with a long recovery time, your pain and suffering may be worth five times that amount.

So how do you determine what factor to use for calculating your pain and suffering? Details about your case make the difference. For example:

  • How much of the accident was the other party’s fault? Was there anything you could have done to avoid the accident?
  • How obvious are your injuries? Are they indisputably related to the accident? Might they have been caused by an underlying condition or another accident?
  • How severe are your injuries? Did they require major surgery or other procedures?
  • Were you diagnosed by a medical doctor or a practitioner, such as a chiropractor?
  • How much recovery time is needed for your injury? More than 6 months?
  • Has your injury caused permanent, debilitating consequences, such as paralysis, loss of sensation, disfigurement, or blindness?
  • Has a medical doctor indicated that even after you recover, you will have recurring and/or degenerative problems from the injury.

General damages are sometimes awarded according to the “per diem” (Latin for “by the day”) method. When this method is used, the plaintiff is awarded a certain dollar amount for each day spent in recovery until the maximum payout on the insurance policy is reached.

Proving Pain In Court

In a personal injury case, the insurance company of the defendant will cover no more than what that defendant’s policy is valued at. Naturally, the insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible, so don’t be surprised if your assessment of your injuries is questioned by an insurance adjuster. And of course, the defendant’s attorney will do everything he/she can do to discredit you to a jury. To that end, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for you to get the most compensation possible for what you’ve suffered.