Figuring out the money required to cover medical bills and property damage is easy – simply add up the bills. But many of us end up paying more than just the bills. So how can you quantify pain and suffering?
Calculating compensation for your pain and suffering is hard, as is justifying the demand to the insurance adjuster.
Here we mention factors affecting pain and suffering calculation, the methods used, and how insurance companies view the different types of injuries.
Accounting Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering accounts for the emotional and mental anguish a person suffers resulting from injuries caused by the negligent party. It is used to term the non-economic damages that are incalculable.
These may be caused by:
- Temporary or permanent pain and discomfort.
- Emotional disorders like depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
- Physical limitations
- Loss of family support, or consortium
- Other psychological traumas
Case Study: Family received millions for Consortium claims
After 40-year-old Carrie DeJongh died due to an allergic reaction to a CT scan dye, a lawsuit was filed by her family against the doctor who had administered the CT scan.
The family received $1.5 million to Carrie’s estate, while $6 million was given to her husband and $5.5 million to each of her four children after the jury deemed the physician guilty. These were all claimed for loss of consortium.
Ineligibility for pain and suffering compensation
Under some circumstances you cannot avail pain and suffering compensation, such as:
- Claims for workers’ compensation
- Claims for no-fault insurance
- Claims for small court lawsuits
Methods to calculate Pain and Suffering
Per Diem Method: Latin for “by the day”, the Per Diem method gives a dollar value of the sufferer’s daily wages and multiplies it by the number of days the sufferer was affected. However, it is not used often for settlements.
Multiple method: Calculation under this method is made by adding the sufferer’s economic damages and applying a multiple between one and five. The economic damages constitute medical bills, lost wages, etc. which accounts for specials damages, or “specials”. Although this method is more commonly used to calculate pain and suffering, it is tricky to figure out which multiple to use.
Justifying your demand
You are required to give a valid reason as well as evidence to justify the amount that you are demanding from the insurance adjuster. Mostly, your demand for compensation will be one to three times your specials damages, unless the injury has left your permanently injured. The circumstances of the injury will constitute the final settlement amount.
Adjusters will usually add a small amount on top of the special damages while negotiating to cover pain and suffering. You can either take this offer, or you can try to raise the amount for the final settlement through arguments and evidence.
Excuses used to reduce compensation
Insurance adjusters will mostly challenge the amount you seek for pain and suffering. Adjusters will try to refuse demands when a claim involves:
- Injuries to soft tissue that are difficult to verify on X-ray or CT scan
- Collisions with low-impact
- Prior injuries
- No medical bills
Injuries that increase compensation
Injuries that lead to long and difficult periods of recovery will result in the sufferer being compensated more for his pain and suffering. Some of these include:
- Fatal accidents
- Brain injuries
- Extensive burns
- Spinal cord injuries
After a minor stroke, Jerri Woodring-Thueson, an athlete, was transferred to Harborview Medical Center. But instead of getting treatment, she was handed off to interns and residents where her condition worsened and was rushed into surgery. After surgery she was left with one half of her body permanently paralyzed.
Jerri’s lawyer sued the hospital and the doctor’s in-charge, alleging that they were the direct cause of her paralysis. She received a grand total of $25.3 million dollars involving economic and non-economic damages.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Your lifestyle and emotional well being will be affected by your –
- Current pain and suffering that you endured from the time of the injury until the competition of treatment
- Current and future pain and suffering that you endured since the injury and may continue to endure into the future
One or two times the amount of your specials is reasonable if you are healed and do not expect any injury-related problems to resurface. However, you can get a large amount if you are still experiencing effects of your injuries. Either way, you still have to prove the pain and suffering you endured.
The evidence you provide can convince the adjuster to raise the multiplier.
Medical Records –The medical records that your doctor provides can backup your claims. Any effect on your daily life can be attributed to your injuries. For example:
- Trouble sleeping
- Not being able to drive
- Seeking counseling for depression caused by long periods of recovery
Photographs –Taking photographs of your injuries during treatment can be compelling evidence that may speak volumes about the pain and suffering you have endured.
Witnesses – Your friends and family are legitimate witnesses that can vouch for the pain and suffering that you have gone through since the injury. They can write about helping you in your daily activities, such as:
- Caring for pets
- Caring for children
Taking Notes–Journaling can be used as evidence as well in which you talk about your experiences since the injury. You may talk about things such as:
- Humiliation resulting from requiring help for toileting and personal hygiene
- Not being able to do basic things
You must enunciate the pain and suffering you went through persuasively. Be prepared to convince the adjuster as best you can in order to raise the settlement amount.
You can talk to a personal injury attorney to estimate the value of your claim so you wouldn’t have to settle for less. Initial consultation is usually free so make use of their expertise and get the compensation you deserve.