If you are injured in an accident or suffer an illness due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering through a personal injury claim. Pain and suffering refers to the physical and/or emotional stress associated with an accident and the injuries caused by it. Many accident victims endure pain and suffering because of their injury and ask how pain and suffering is calculated.
Pain and suffering is a ‘non-economic’ damage that can be awarded as part of a personal injury claim. Unlike ‘economic’ damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, non-economic damages cannot be measured through a list of expenses. There are no specific rules around how pain and suffering is calculated in a claim. Insurance companies, judges or juries look at the certain factors to make a calculation.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering has two components -- physical and mental. Physical pain includes the pain and suffering endured at the time of the accident as well as the subsequent time as you rehabilitate from your injuries.
Mental anguish and emotional distress includes the mental pain and suffering you endure as a result of your injuries. These symptoms and feelings can severely impact a victim’s life and may cause them difficulty in daily routines such as going to work, attending school, or even getting out of bed in the morning. Emotional distress after an accident can result in symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Bouts of anger
- Feelings of humiliation
- Sleep issues and nightmares
- Lost appetite
- Loss of interest in usual activities
Because of the complexity and judgment required to estimate pain and suffering, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is imperative to get the compensation you deserve. Their knowledge and experience will help to build your case and seek maximum compensation for the mental anguish and emotional turmoil you experience as the result of your injuries.
Pain and Suffering Calculation
Your personal injury lawyer will build a case to prove your pain and suffering by using medical records and in some cases, your own account, as evidence. The point is to prove how the injury negatively impacted your life. While every case is different, the more severe injury, and the more permanent the injury is, the more the award will be for pain and suffering.
For instance, with a severe injury such as traumatic brain injury, you may no longer be able to work or perform routine activities and expect long-term treatment. Your award would likely be higher than someone who has endured an injury like a fracture. While broken bones may cause the injured victim mental anguish and diminished quality of life, the period of time is relatively much shorter. The compensatory award may not be calculated as high as that of a more seriously debilitating injury.
Every insurance company uses their own method of calculation for negotiation, as do judges and juries. Generally, insurance companies typically multiply the cost of medical bills by a number between one and five to calculate “pain and suffering.” The more severe and permanent the injury, the higher the multiplier. In this case, if your injury was classified as a 2, the insurance company would multiply the total cost of your medical bills by 2 to get the award amount for pain and suffering.
Some states impose limits on the award amounts possible for compensatory damages which includes pain and suffering. In New Jersey, there is no limit on the monetary award possible for pain and suffering or other similar types of damages. The only cap in New Jersey is on punitive damages.
Brandon J. Broderick, Personal Injury Lawyer
Working with experienced personal injury attorneys can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Calculating pain and suffering as well as other damages from your accident is complex. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a personal injury lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney, at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success with personal injury settlements and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.