How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case

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Understanding how to calculate pain and suffering is important to anyone with a personal injury claim.  Damages for pain and suffering are also known as non-economic damages. 

What is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is generally viewed as the emotional and physical pain and discomfort associated with an accident victim’s injuries and the medical and surgical procedures required to treat those injuries.  Pain and suffering includes: 

  • Embarrassment caused by scarring and permanent disfigurement;
  • Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological effects of an accident and injuries; and
  • The potential shortening of life. 

What Factors Influence How Pain and Suffering is Calculated?

Because pain and suffering is so subjective, there is no set formula used to calculate damages for pain and suffering.  However, there are a number of factors which may be considered in determining the value of the pain and suffering component of a personal injury case including, but not limited to: 

  • The severity of the plaintiff’s injuries;
  • Whether the plaintiff will be permanently disabled or disfigured as a result of the injuries;
  • Whether the plaintiff’s injuries resulted in paralysis or loss of one or more limbs;
  • Whether the plaintiff immediately sought treatment for his injuries;
  • Whether the plaintiff will require long term medical treatment as a result of the injuries;
  • The degree of pain associated with the injuries suffered by the plaintiff;
  • The degree of pain associated with the medical procedures required to treat the plaintiff’s injuries;
  • Whether the plaintiff followed the course of treatment prescribed by his physicians;
  • Whether the plaintiff has a high tolerance for pain;
  • The impact the injuries have had on the plaintiff’s lifestyle and daily activities;
  • Whether the injuries have impacted the plaintiff’s ability to work;
  • Whether the injuries prevent the plaintiff from returning to his previous job or profession;
  • Whether the plaintiff has filed personal injury lawsuits in the past;
  • The plaintiff’s credibility as a witness; and
  • The reputation and skill of the plaintiff’s attorney. 

The factors which weigh in favor of the plaintiff will usually increase a pain and suffering award.  On the other hand, the factors which disfavor the plaintiff will usually decrease a pain and suffering award.  

Getting Legal Help

Negotiating a personal injury settlement and taking a personal injury case to trial requires the knowledge and expertise of a personal injury attorney.  A personal injury attorney will use his knowledge of the law and his experience in evaluating personal injury cases and negotiating personal injury settlements to estimate the personal injury value of your case and will work zealously to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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