In a personal injury case, the injured victim typically seeks damages from the responsible party. These damages include easily calculable losses, like medical bills, lost income, car repairs and other reimbursements. Sometimes courts also award a victim pain and suffering. However, this type of injury cannot be calculated by bills and receipts.
What is pain and suffering?
We all hear the phrase “pain and suffering” when discussing personal injury cases. What this means, in legal terms, is the physical and emotional injury a victim experiences during and after an accident. The court considers the extent of this injury, and attempts to quantify it for compensation purposes in a legal action. Additionally, if a victim dies from their injuries, the court may also award the family of the victim pain and suffering damages through a wrongful death action.
Physical pain and suffering
When you suffer injury from a serious accident that wasn’t your fault, your injuries and aftermath could last for weeks, months or even a lifetime. The pain could be chronic and disabling. Common injuries that qualify for pain and suffering include:
- Back pain
- Broken or crushed bones
- Burn injuries
- Chronic headaches
- Loss of limb
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Physical pain and suffering can be temporary or permanent.
Emotional pain and suffering
The emotional pain after an accident can cause a victim psychological distress that can last a considerable amount of time. This can result in debilitating pain and suffering, including:
- Cognitive and behavioral changes
- Diminishment in quality of life
- Fear and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Mental trauma can leave a victim with permanent psychological effects lasting well beyond physical injuries.
Loss of consortium
When an accident results in a person’s death and their family brings a wrongful death action, the court may also award compensation for loss of consortium. This is another type of pain and suffering, but experienced by the loved ones of the deceased as they grieve the loss of their family member. Examples of loss of consortium include:
- Care and companionship
- Household assistance
- Love and affection
- Parental guidance
- Spousal intimacy
Calculating pain and suffering
There is no calculator to determine pain and suffering. However, most attorneys and insurance companies rely on one of two methods (although they are not required to):
- The multiplier method. With this method, the court takes the amount of your damages (your medical bills, lost wages, ER costs, etc.) and then multiplies them by a number between one and five. The number represents the severity of your injuries, and the resulting total equals your pain and suffering.
- The per diem method. The per diem method assigns a dollar amount to each day, from the day of your injury to the day you reach maximum medical recovery (MMR). MMR is when a medical professional believes that your condition will not improve any further.
Your personal injury attorney helps prove your pain and suffering through evidence like photographs, doctor’s notes, medical evidence and statements from therapists and counselors.
If you were injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible for pain and suffering compensation. At Shepherd & Long, P.C., our attorneys advocate for the rights of injury victims across East Tennessee. To schedule your free consultation, please call our Maryville offices at 865-982-8060, or we invite you to complete our contact form.