When asking for damages in a personal injury case, claims for pain and suffering must be well-documented with proper evidence and proven to the insurance company and the court.
Claims for Pain and Suffering
All personal injury cases have s a unique set of facts and circumstances that play a role in damages awarded for injuries. When injuries are caused by another person’s negligent actions, the injury victim may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, in addition to economic damages for his/her medical bills, lost income, and rehabilitation expenses.
Claims filed by a personal injury lawyer for pain and suffering may include compensation for both physical pain and/or emotional distress. The court examines both types of suffering based on the nature of the accident and what the injury victim has to go through because of another person’s negligent actions.
In some cases, emotional trauma overrides physical injuries. For example, if a parent can no longer pick up a child or care for family members due to traumatic brain injuries, the court may award that parent a significant sum of money for long-term or permanent pain and suffering.
Since there is no exact way to measure a person’s pain and suffering for physical injuries and emotional trauma, damages must be calculated by the court based on well-documented evidence that provides a fair verdict for the injury victim. A personal injury lawyer can gather proper evidence and oversee important testimony from witnesses that the court will require including:
- Medical exams and treatments by licensed physicians
- Medical diagnosis and prognosis of patient injuries
- Prescribed medications for physical and/or mental pain
- Evidence of life-threatening, permanent, or disabling conditions
- Testimony and opinions from medical experts
- Testimony from friends and family members
Well-documented evidence presented to the court is essential for proving pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit. For an insurance company and a court jury, it is the only way to establish the degree of physical and/or emotional harm that has been done. Documented evidence from medical professionals and testimonies from friends and family members provide facts that create sympathy for the injury victim and proof of pain and suffering for the insurance company and court.
Calculating Damages for Pain and Suffering
When calculating damages for pain and suffering, court judges, juries, and insurance companies take numerous factors into account. Since every personal injury case is different, damages are based on circumstances and conditions relevant to each case. Common factors that influence the final decision and financial outcome for injury victims include:
- Severity of the victim’s injuries
- Prognosis of the victim’s injuries (short-term and long-term)
- Medical treatments and therapies
- Healing time required
- Impact of injuries on the victim’s job and income
- Impact of injuries on the victim’s future
One important factor in calculating damages is the egregiousness of the negligent behavior by the defendant. In legal terms, egregious behavior refers to actions that are obviously wrong or bad beyond reasonable behavior. Egregious behavior reflects a willful intention to do harm or complete disregard for another person’s safety. If a personal injury lawyer proves that egregious behavior is connected to negligent actions, the court may award substantial damages for pain and suffering.
There are typically two different types of calculations used to determine compensation for pain and suffering in personal injury cases – the multiplier method and the per diem method.
The Multiplier Method
In the multiplier method, the economic damages are multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. For example, if the award for economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages totals $15,000, and the judge or jury uses a multiplier of 3, the non-economic damages for pain and suffering will total $45,000. The decision to use the multiplier method for pain and suffering and the multiplier number chosen is usually determined by the nature and severity of the victim’s accident and injuries.
The Per Diem Method
In the per diem method, a specific monetary value is assigned to each day of the victim’s pain and suffering. It begins on the initial date of the victim’s accident and continues to the date of the victim’s “maximum medical improvement.” The date of maximum medical improvement is determined by a physician or medical expert and is based on the victim’s prognosis for maximum healing. Once maximum healing is reached, it is determined that a patient’s health will not improve any further.
Illinois personal injury lawyers see all types of accident and injury claims, including negligence claims based on egregiousness. Negligence claims are especially disturbing because the injury victim often suffers severe or life-threatening injuries and disabilities that could have been prevented. In many cases, a victim’s lifestyle, income, daily activities, and future opportunities are changed drastically. Compensation for physical pain and emotional trauma that may last a lifetime can make a big difference.