How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
When you’ve been injured due to negligence, like in a car accident or slip and fall, calculating certain types of damages like medical expenses is relatively straightforward. However, injuries don’t only affect your finances. They also take a toll on your overall well-being. While no amount of money can truly undo that damage, as an accident victim you can seek compensation.What constitutes Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a term that describes noneconomic losses. This covers suffering that is physical, emotional, and mental that results from your injury.
A common example of pain and suffering is some type of limitation on an activity that once brought you joy, be it permanent or temporary. Likewise, depression and disfigurements that reduce quality of life are considered noneconomic damages. And of course, if your loved one’s life was cut short due to wrongful death, that will surely cause a great deal of pain and suffering as well.[h3] When Do Insurance Companies Compensate for Pain and Suffering?
Insurance companies compensate for pain and suffering when sufficient evidence shows that the injury has led to those specific damages. This is usually determined after you’ve reached maximum medical improvement.
A personal injury lawyer can use a combination of your medical records and testimonies from you and your loved ones as proof of your pain and suffering. Records from a mental health professional may also be instrumental when available.How do Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering?
When calculating pain and suffering, insurance companies consider several factors. Injuries with longer recovery times are understandably assigned higher dollar amounts than ones you can bounce back from quickly. Obviously, permanent injuries often command a higher pain and suffering compensation amount.
Most non-monetary factors that make life less bearable can increase pain and suffering calculations. For instance, if you have to take medications with harsh side effects to manage your injury, those side effects can be considered.Multiplier Method
To determine an actual figure, many insurance companies use the multiplier method. Once the economic damages amount is established, that total is multiplied by a number ranging from 1 to 5 depending on the severity of the injury. For example, an amputated leg could be a five while a broken leg might be one and a half.Per Diem Approach
The term per diem literally means per day and it is another common method used to calculate pain and suffering. As the name suggests, the compensation for pain and suffering using the per diem method is based on how many days you spend in recovery. So if you spent 120 days recovering from your injury, and it was agreed that the per diem would be $150, then you could be offered $18,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Your attorneys will not be concerned with what method is used to make a settlement offer. They will look to negotiate for what they believe is a fair settlement amount for a client. They have a feel for what a case is worth, both from their own experiences and settlement & jury verdict research. If the offer is not reasonable, they will recommend moving forward with litigation.Factors that can Impact Your Settlement Amount
When it comes to personal injury cases, Arizona is one of the states without a limit on the amount of collectible damages. However, the nature of an injury as well as the circumstances of an accident are regularly used as guidelines.Severity of Injury
Settlement amounts increase with an injury’s severity. The degree to which an injury is debilitating is a major aspect. For example, a traumatic brain injury that stunts emotional development is clearly more serious and far-reaching than an injury requiring three days of bed rest.Liability
Sometimes, an injury is 100% the responsibility of one person or entity. That can result in a higher settlement amount. In other cases, it’s possible that you will share part of the liability with the other party. Since Arizona is a comparative negligence state, the other party can still be held financially responsible, but to a degree lesser than 100%. Consequently, this will reduce the settlement amount respective to the liability amount. If the negligent party is found 75% responsible for your injury, then you would be entitled to 75% of the settlement.Future Prognosis
The amount of the settlement will also depend on the future medical prognosis. One factor that is taken into consideration is the ability to perform day to day functions such as walking and standing.
When you’re robbed of these abilities, you can also miss opportunities to do what you love, whether that’s playing sports, adventuring with your friends, or even things people take for granted like cooking for their family.Case History
Generally, higher settlements have been awarded in the cases requiring extensive rehabilitation, hospitalization, and reconstructive surgeries. Often, insurance companies try to avoid going to trial.
Insurance companies do all they can to mitigate risks. If a case isn’t progressing in their favor, they may be willing to offer a higher settlement to avoid a more expensive trial and further costs of litigation. When a case goes to a trial, whether by judge or jury, they could be at risk of a significant verdict.Impact on Lifestyle
An injury can significantly change the way you live. For example, those who enjoy living alone independently may be forced into an extreme change such as moving into a group home or relocating to live with family. Unwanted, disruptive adjustments like these can warrant sizable settlements.Negotiating a Better Settlement
Though pain and suffering is not as tangible as economic expenses, they’re just as real and they can be just as devastating. If you or someone you love has been physically or emotionally scarred by an injury, don’t settle for the minimum available compensation just to cover your medical expenses. The experienced attorneys of Abels & Annes will work with you to understand your experience and to strategize securing the amount you deserve. For a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at (602) 819-5191.