What is Pain and Suffering?
If you’ve been in an accident that resulted in an injury, you likely experienced some degree of physical pain. Pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate individuals for the significant anguish they suffer as a result of their injury. Just because pain and suffering aren’t tangible damages in the same way physical injuries are, that doesn’t mean you can’t be compensated for them. Pain and suffering is broken into two categories: physical and emotional.
Physical pain and suffering not only covers the immediate pain that comes from the injury, but pain stemming from long term effects as well.
Emotional pain and suffering covers things like depression, anxiety, anger, PTSD, insomnia, stress, and the loss of enjoyment of life. Not only can the accident itself be extremely stressful, it often results in a person not being able to live their life the way they typically would, which can have a tremendous impact on a person’s morale. Not being able to work, go out with friends, or participate in activities with their family can send a person into a deep depression. The emotional anguish that comes along with an accident should be treated every bit as seriously as the physical pain.
If you are interested in pursuing pain and suffering damages, keep a journal to note specific instances of how an injury directly impacts your life. Doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, feeling guilty for not being able to attend a child’s school event, feeling depressed because you are unable to work, or feeling isolated because you had to miss a previously planned event are all things that should be documented.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
There is no one set method people use to calculate pain and suffering damages. Some insurance companies use a computer program to determine that. Another common method is by using a multiplier. With a multiplier, the total amount of a person’s measurable damages (lost income, out-of-pocket expenses for medical care, etc.) is multiplied by a number that depends on things like the severity of a case, how much time is needed for recovery, and if there are any extenuating circumstances like the accident being caused by a drunk driver. 1 or 1½ might be used as a multiplier with less severe injuries but a more severe case might be multiplied by 5 or more.
Sometimes, pain and suffering damages are determined using a per diem method. The per diem method assigns a monetary value above and beyond any out-of-pocket expenses for each day you were impacted by the injury. For example, let’s say you were in a car accident, sustained a leg injury, and spent three months living with pain and going to physical therapy to get better. But after those three months, you were fully recovered and had no more pain. With the per diem method, you would get a set amount of damages for each day of those three months. Sometimes the per diem amount is determined by using a person’s income, under the theory that coping with an injury is worth at least as much as a regular day of work.