What Is Considered Pain and Suffering in an Accident Claim?
The costs associated with an accidental injury can be either actual or general. The actual costs are easy to quantify. They consist of your medical expenses, lost wages and the extent of any property damage, and their monetary impact will waste little time in making itself known. There is another area, however, for which the assignment of a monetary value is less cut and dried. Known as your general damages, it’s the area into which pain and suffering will rightly fall.
Pain and suffering can be either mental or physical in nature. Physical pain and suffering goes beyond anything for which you have received immediate medical treatment, encompassing any detrimental aftereffects that accrue directly from the accident and have the potential of lingering on far into the future. Broken bones, back injuries and the like can lead to chronic pain and often impede the ability to function in a normal way.
Mental pain and suffering, on the other hand, can consist of:
– Loss of appetite.
– Fears and phobias.
– Full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
If the mental and physical pain and suffering are sufficiently severe, they may prevent the victim from returning to work, performing daily duties or simply enjoying life. Although no invoice will appear for them in the mail, these things still have a monetary value, and it’s one for which most people believe the victim deserves financial relief. Fortunately, the law agrees, and damages for pain and suffering are a vital component of any personal injury case.
Calculating the Value of Pain and Suffering
With no written documentation to quantify the monetary impact of pain and suffering, a person who attempts to determine its monetary value must rely on life experience and simple common sense. As an additional assist, attorneys and insurers will sometimes use a multiplier that ranges from a low of about 1.5 to a high of 4 or more to figure the value of an injured person’s pain and suffering. By mathematically applying this multiplier to the total actual damages of the injured person’s medical bills and lost wages, they hope to approximate the monetary value of the victim’s pain and suffering.
The multiplier’s value is questionable in all but the most minor of injury cases. Some experts advise against its use in the first place, preferring to leave the assessment to the judgment of human beings. In a court of law, this would be up to the jury, and its final determination could be influenced by such things as the plaintiff’s:
– Credibility. Does he or she sound believable? The jurors won’t want to see any exaggeration, dishonesty or stretching of the truth.
– Likability. As unfair as it may seem, the plaintiff whose personality is less than charming may be at a serious disadvantage in a personal injury suit.
– Testimonial consistency. A plaintiff whose story changes from one second to the next could find himself the loser in the end.
In addition, as unfair as it may seem, jurors are also apt to downgrade the value of any monetary claim if the plaintiff should happen to have a criminal record.
How Insurance Adjusters Figure the Value of Pain and Suffering
In determining the amount of compensation to offer for pain and suffering, claims adjusters will sometimes rely on nothing more than experience. More often, however, they will enlist the aid of modern technology and feed the victim’s claim data to the computer.
This is where the multiplier system is likely to rear its head. For soft tissue injuries, the adjuster is likely to offer no more than twice the amount of your actual damages. For broken bones, ruptured disks and similar injuries, three times that amount is often possible. Finally, permanent damage such as loss of limb, facial scarring or irreversible brain injury may warrant a multiplier of 5 or even more. Of course, anyone whose injuries have been that severe will benefit from the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.
At Lloyd Baker Injury Attorneys, we understand the negative impact of pain and suffering on a person’s future. Whether you are dealing with an insurance company or intend to take your case to court, we can see to it that your pain and suffering receive the compensation that they deserve. Insurance companies will attempt to offer you as little as possible, and if you plan to take legal action, you’ll want the best legal assistance you can find.
Don’t settle for less compensation than your case warrants. Call Lloyd Baker Injury Attorneys today: 602-265-5555