Personal injury cases are fairly common. For example, a person may sustain an injury in an automobile accident, a workplace accident, in a slip-and-fall accident, or as a result of medical malpractice. A person who has been injured due to the negligent or intentional act of another is entitled to what lawyers call “pain and suffering” damages – monetary compensation for the harm that has been done.
“Pain and Suffering” Defined
Pain and suffering damages are a type of monetary compensation (known as general damages) that can be awarded in a personal injury case for the individual’s physical pain, mental anguish or emotional distress. Pain and suffering is calculated in two ways: past pain and suffering and future pain and suffering. Past pain and suffering is begins on the date of the accident and runs from the date of a jury verdict. Future pain and suffering runs from the date of the jury verdict until the end of your life – calculated by life expectancy tables or through testimony of your physician.
Examples of pain and suffering include:
- Brain injury, broken bones, herniated disc, physical pain associated with your injury, scarring and discomfort
- Depression, anxiety, shock, memory loss, mental or emotional scarring, other psychological trauma
- Sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances/insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of energy
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
It is difficult to quantify or put a dollar value on someone’s pain and suffering – it is an inherently subjective exercise. However, courts and juries may consider a number of factors when determining a monetary award in a personal injury case, including:
- The extent and seriousness of the physical injury:
o How long will the injury last? Is it a permanent injury?
o What is the recovery time?
o Will the injury have an ongoing impact on the life and well-being of the injured person?
- The extent and seriousness of the mental or emotional harm that has been done:
o Does the psychological trauma require additional medical care and/or prescription medication?
o Does the emotional strain of the injury have a substantial impact on the person’s quality of life?
- Does the mental and emotional impact of the injury affect others as well? If so, to what extent?
Multipliers and Other Ready Made Formulas
Many personal injury victims are curious to find out exactly how much their case is worth and are in a desperate search for a formula to assume the appropriate payout for their claim. There is no exact formula or multipliers that may be indicative of the value of a claim. A settlement that ultimately works is because it is fair based on what a jury would ultimately award based on what the victim went through as a result of the accident. There is one thing for sure, juries do not use mathematical formulas to compute the value of a claim.