The effects of an accident can extend far beyond medical bills and lost wages. While in recovery, you may not be able to care for your family, and basic daily activities can become extremely difficult or even impossible. You may have trouble sleeping or be generally debilitated. In short, your pain and suffering may leave you unable to live your life.
Fortunately, you can recover financial compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced in addition to what you pay out of pocket for medical bills and the wages you lost. But to get fair and full value for what you endured, you should understand how pain and suffering are calculated as part of a personal injury claim.
While “pain and suffering” may be evident on its face, it has a specific use in the context of a personal injury claim such as after a car accident, truck crash, or medical malpractice. “Pain and suffering” refer to any physical and/or emotional distress caused by a physical injury.
Pain is the physical discomfort you experience because of your injury. Suffering is the emotional or psychological harm that you suffer. Suffering can include diagnosable conditions such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, but also general sadness, frustration, or anger.
Further, pain and suffering are often referred to as “non-economic” damages (and sometimes as “general damages”). Economic damages are those losses that have a specific, identifiable dollar amount, such as medical bills or lost wages.
Pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages because they do not have a specific economic value and every person’s losses are unique. While your pain and suffering are genuine, they are also subjective, meaning it’s complicated for anyone but you to know the total extent of what you are going through.
It is a popular misconception that pain and suffering is simply a random dollar amount to increase insurance payouts. There is no set formula in Illinois personal injury cases for determining the compensation you are entitled to. There are different methods that your attorney, the jury, or the insurance company may use to assign a value to your claim for pain and suffering.
While attorneys and insurance companies commonly discuss two methods for assessing pain and suffering, it is essential to note that neither the multiplier nor per diem method are very reliable. There is no guarantee they will accurately calculate the value of your pain and suffering damages.
Because assigning a specific value to pain and suffering can be challenging, a multiplier estimates the value of your claim. Depending on the severity of your injury, it will be assigned a factor between one and five, with one being for the least severe injuries and five being the most severe. The factor is then applied to the total value of your economic losses.
For example, let’s say you were in a car accident and suffered a compound fracture in your leg. It costs you $25,000 for treatment and physical therapy, and you lose $1,000 in income. Because you now will walk with a permanent limp, let’s assign a factor of 4 to your injuries. We would then calculate your claim for pain and suffering as follows:
$25,000 in medical losses + $1,000 in lost wages = $26,000 in economic losses
$26,000 x 4 = $104,000 in pain and suffering
Calculations are unique to each case.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to determine the value of your pain and suffering daily. In those cases, you may assign a per diem estimate of your pain and suffering and then multiply it by the number of days you suffered from your injuries.
Suppose the per diem value of your pain and suffering is 5 out of 5, and the number of days you were dealing with these damages was set at 2.5 years or 912.5 days. We would multiply five by 912.5 to get a total per diem value of $4,562.50.
Calculations are unique to each case.
These are just a few ways pain and suffering can be calculated. Ultimately, you might need to evaluate the value of your pain and suffering damages in multiple ways to better understand what you could be awarded.
There is also no requirement that these methods be used to calculate your claim. The best way to maximize the compensation you can recover for pain and suffering is to work with an experienced lawyer. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can ensure every loss is considered and the full extent of what you experienced is appreciated.
The following considerations are used in determining your claim for pain and suffering:
Generally, the more severe and impactful your injury, the greater the potential value of your claim for pain and suffering. For example, pain and suffering associated with a spinal cord injury that resulted in permanent paralysis would likely be greater than the pain and suffering caused by a minor broken leg.
Recovering fair compensation for your pain and suffering after an injury may sound very simple, but the reality is, unfortunately, much more complicated. Your insurance company will likely dispute the value of your claim, and if you must go to court, you will need to persuade a jury that you are entitled to the total value of your losses.
This is extremely difficult for non-lawyers to accomplish, but the good news is that you don’t have to pursue your claim alone. The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. will fight to make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to so that you can rebuild your life.