Serving Personal Injury Victims and Getting Compensation for Damages in Trenton, Lawrence, Princeton, Hamilton, and Mercer County.
We can’t give strict rules or formulas to put a dollar value on the pain and suffering you endured in a personal injury case, but here are some guidelines for what an insurance company might consider.
If you were injured due to someone else’s carelessness, in most cases, you could seek compensation from that person’s insurance company by filing what’s known as a third-party claim.
This article will discuss the conditions under which an insurance company will compensate for pain and suffering and how these damages are calculated.
After you have established that the at-fault party, hereinafter called the “defendant,” is the person responsible for your injuries (in other words, “liable”), you will then need to present evidence of all the losses you sustained in the incident (called “damages”). The defendant’s insurance company should compensate you for your medical expenses as well as any wages you lost as a result of the defendant’s actions.
Besides, the insurance company should provide you with some compensation for your general “pain and suffering.” Let’s discuss when an insurance company will compensate for pain and suffering and how these kinds of damages are calculated.
First: What is “Pain and Suffering?”
This is a legal term that includes a host of injuries that a plaintiff may suffer in an accident. The term includes physical pain caused by an accident and physical discomfort resulting from necessary medical treatment. It also covers emotional and mental injuries such as fear, insomnia, grief, worry, inconvenience, and even the loss of life enjoyment.
Almost without exception, in an injury case, the plaintiff should recover some amount, sometimes small and sometimes very large.
An insurance company or a jury will look at both the type of injury you suffered and the nature of your medical treatment as two basic ways to determine the degree of pain and suffering you have endured.
If you’re in a car accident that results in $5,000 in damage to your car and $15,000 in medical bills, your “pain and suffering” damages are going to be significant. But if that same accident results in only $500 in medical bills (for x-rays that came back negative), your “pain and suffering” damages will likely be nominal.
Second: How Does an Insurance Company Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?
No rule or law says how this must be done. But many plaintiffs’ attorneys use one of two methods for calculating pain and suffering. The first method is to multiply the plaintiff’s actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a factor between 1 and 5, depending on the severity of the injury. For example, if a plaintiff incurs $4,000 in medical bills related to a broken arm, he might multiply that by three and conclude that $12,000 represents a reasonable amount for pain and suffering.
The second method many plaintiffs’ attorneys use is a per diem (Latin for “per day”) approach. Under this method, a certain amount—perhaps $100—is given to every day from the day of the accident until the plaintiff reached maximum recovery.
Insurance companies are not under any obligation to use either of these two methods to calculate pain and suffering. Many insurers use computer programs to determine what settlement they should offer. These programs take into account the type of injury and the type of medical treatment the claimant sought.
For example, insurance companies usually give greater weight to a physician’s medical treatment than a chiropractor. Insurance companies also take into account the length of time the claimant sought treatment. If the treatment seems excessive for the type of injury, the insurance company will not include all of the treatment to calculate pain and suffering.
Third: How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?
Proof of this type of injury may take many forms. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the better chance you’ll have of recovering an amount you find satisfactory.
The extent of your injury and accompanying pain and suffering can be evidenced through documentation such as photographs. It can also be evidenced in personal journals that record your physical and emotional feelings. Documentation from friends and family is important. It can provide additional evidence of the way the particular injury has negatively impacted your life. Proof of treatment by a mental health professional is also helpful and necessary for forgeries such as increased anxiety, insomnia, or depression.
Fourth: How Do You Know What’s Fair?
How will you know if the offer an insurance company makes in the settlement is reasonable? A good approach is to use the multiplier method or the per diem method discussed above to get an estimated idea.
On top of that, you need to consider whether additional circumstances might influence that amount, either up or down. For example, if your injury left you with a permanent scar on your face, it would be reasonable to increase the amount of pain and suffering you consider to be fair. Conversely, a minor bump on the head that healed quickly probably will not be compensated for very much. Keep these factors in mind when evaluating whether the insurance company has reasonably and fairly valued your pain and suffering.