Pain and Suffering
How is pain and suffering calculated following an accident?
Pain and SufferingEach week in the NFL several high profile athletes are injured. All athletes feel pain. And yes, pain hurts. Personal injury victims also feel pain. Pain is a normal mechanism of neurons relaying signals of caution. These signals protect the injured body part from further harm. Suffering is the emotional component we superimpose onto pain. Pain signals can get amplified when we manifest our emotional stress into those physical symptoms.
Following a personal injury case, one of the biggest questions we receive is in regards to what *pain and suffering* means. Further, how can the court accurately put a dollar amount on someone*s pain and suffering? What is considered pain and suffering from a legal point of view? Most importantly, how does the court calculate the cost during an injury-related lawsuit or insurance claim?
Pain and Suffering DefinedThere are two different types of pain and suffering: mental and physical.
Mental pain and suffering is when the person making the claim is injured physically, but also deals with mental repercussions because of those bodily injuries. Issues that are considered mental pain and suffering include: emotional distress; fear; humiliation; anger; mental anguish; shock; anxiety; and loss of enjoyment in life. A simple definition of mental pain and suffering is any type of negative feeling or emotion that a victim of an accident suffers from after undergoing the trauma and physical pain of an accident. In severe cases, mental pain and suffering can be shown as depression, anger, sexual dysfunction, lack of energy, lack of appetite, mood swings, or sleep disturbances. In some instances, severe mental pain and suffering can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to the mental pain and suffering a victim has endured due to an accident, claims of pain and suffering may also include the mental pain and suffering that the victim will may suffer through in the future.
Physical pain and suffering is any pain from physical injuries from which the victim suffers. It not only includes the current or previous pain and suffering with which the victim has dealt, but also the future effects the victim is likely to endure because of the defendant*s negligence.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?There are not many guidelines given to the jury to determine how the pain and suffering of a victim is calculated in a personal injury lawsuit. It is very common for judges to tell juries to use their background, sense, and experience to determine what a reasonable and fair amount would be to compensate the victim for their pain and suffering. There is also a multiplier used in personal injury cases, where the jury decides what the pain and suffering if worth by multiplying the victim*s total medical bills and lost earnings by a set number. The multiplier is usually somewhere between 1.5 and 4. This means that the pain and suffering of the victim is between 1.5 and 4 times the total cost of the medical bills and lost earnings. It should be noted that the multiplier concept is a rough estimate and is not applicable in all personal injury cases.
There are a variety of factors that affect what the jury will view the value of pain and suffering in a personal injury case. Some include:
If the victim is a good witness
If the victim is likeable and credible
If the victim*s testimony is consistent
If the victim is exaggerating their claims of pain and suffering
If the victim*s doctor*s support the pain and suffering claims