If you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or settlement. A significant component of many injury settlements is payment for pain and suffering – but what does that actually mean and how is it calculated? This article provides a comprehensive overview of pain and suffering settlements, including what they cover, how they are calculated, settlement examples, and what impacts the settlement amount.
Understanding the ins and outs of pain and suffering can help you receive fair compensation for your injury. Keep reading to learn what you need to know to navigate this complex process successfully.
What Exactly is “Pain and Suffering”?
Pain and suffering falls into a category called “non-economic damages” – meaning it does not cover quantifiable financial losses like medical bills or lost wages. Rather, pain and suffering looks to compensate you for physical discomfort, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment in life, and other difficult-to-quantify impacts resulting from an injury.
Types of pain and suffering can include both physical pain and emotional suffering. Physical pain refers to symptoms like headaches, back pain, surgical pain, etc. Emotional suffering covers mental anguish, depression, anxiety, PTSD, lack of mobility, and more. Both components aim to capture how the injury has negatively impacted your quality of life.
Why is Pain and Suffering Part of a Settlement?
You may be wondering – why include compensation for pain and suffering at all? Why not just cover the concrete financial impacts?
There are two key reasons. First, money cannot alleviate physical and emotional trauma caused by an injury, but it can help ease the burden. Additional funds can be used for things like therapy, in-home care, mobility devices, etc.
Second, the inclusion of non-economic damages recognizes that your injury and suffering deserve compensation beyond just medical bills and lost income. The at-fault party should be held fully accountable.
So, in short – pain and suffering aims to help make you whole again, as much as possible.
How Pain and Suffering Settlements Are Calculated
Insurance companies typically rely on two main methods to calculate pain and suffering settlement amounts:
The Multiplier Method
This involves adding up all economic damages like medical bills and lost income, then choosing a multiplier between 1-5 based on injury severity. For instance:
- Minor injuries: 1-2x economic damages
- Moderate injuries: 2-3x economic damages
- Serious injuries: 4-5x economic damages
So if economic damages totaled $100,000, pain and suffering for a serious injury could be calculated as $400,000-$500,000.
The Per Diem Method
This assigns a dollar value per day for pain and suffering. For example, $200 per day for the number of days you experienced distress. The total is then your pain and suffering demand amount.
Both methods provide ballpark figures to begin negotiations. Your attorney will leverage your evidence and circumstances to advocate for a fair settlement exceeding the insurance company’s low offer.
What Impacts the Settlement Amount?
Many components influence appropriate settlement amounts for pain and suffering. These include:
- Type and Severity of Injury – More serious injuries typically result in higher settlements. Permanent disabilities and losses of bodily function also warrant substantial pain and suffering damages. Figuring out where an injury falls on the severity spectrum is key.
- Duration of Suffering – Was the suffering relatively short-term or ongoing? Injuries with longer durations and lasting impacts deserve greater compensation.
- Age of Victim – Younger victims tend to receive higher settlements since they endure impacts for longer portions of their life.
- Liability Apportionment – If multiple parties hold some fault for the incident, liability gets divided between them. Those more responsible pay more.
- Insurance Coverage Limits – Realistically, settlement amounts cannot exceed insurance coverage maximums. Even if a judge awards higher non-economic damages, the at-fault party’s policy limit caps compensation.
- Medical Treatment Undergone – Extensive medical intervention often signals higher severity of injury and suffering, boosting personal injury claim value.
- Impact on Quality/Enjoyment of Life – The extent to which an injury impairs daily function and lifestyle and also sways settlement amounts.
Skilled personal injury lawyers use these factors to advocate for fair pain and suffering damages for your unique situation.
Examples of Typical Pain and Suffering Settlement Ranges
In personal injury cases, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, in addition to any economic damages (like medical bills and lost wages). The type of injury, the degree of pain, and the likelihood of further pain related to the injury all play a role in determining how much these damages will be.
Since every case is unique, giving an exact average of pain and suffering settlements is hard. However, I can give some examples to illustrate the range:
- Minor Injuries (Soft Tissue Injuries): If a person has suffered minor injuries like bruises, strains, sprains, or small cuts, the pain and suffering compensation can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
- Moderate to Severe Injuries: For more serious injuries such as broken bones, herniated discs, or injuries that require surgery but from which the victim is expected to recover fully, the settlement can be in the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Catastrophic Injuries: For injuries that are life-altering, such as brain damage, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, or loss of a limb, the pain and suffering damages can reach into the millions.
- Wrongful Death: In cases of wrongful death, the surviving family members may be compensated for their pain and suffering, which can also reach into the millions.
Remember every case differs based on the factors discussed earlier. But these examples illustrate typical pain and suffering settlement ranges. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average payout for pain and suffering in auto accident cases is approximately $23,234. However, settlements can far exceed that number in cases of severe or permanent injuries.
Proving Your Pain and Suffering Claims
Documenting how the injury has impacted your physical, emotional, and social well-being is crucial to proving pain and suffering claims. Be sure to:
- Keep detailed medical records indicating diagnoses and treatments
- Get statements from doctors, therapists, and other resource attesting to your injuries and prognosis
- Maintain a journal tracking how daily life activities have been affected
- Have friends/family write letters validating changes they’ve witnessed in you
- Present evidence like photos of scarring or assistive devices needed
This documentation strengthens your demand package and helps justify higher compensation if your case goes to trial.
How Purely Legal Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, the experienced attorneys at Purely Legal are here to help. We have a proven track record of success in securing maximum client compensation. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident, build a strong case demonstrating your pain and suffering damages, and negotiate relentlessly on your behalf.