As part of a personal injury lawsuit, you will normally claim the cost of your medical expenses for any injury incurred. It's relatively easy to calculate the value of this part of the claim because you can relate the amount to your medical bills. However, when it comes to pain and suffering, the total amount you can claim isn't as easy to calculate. Learn more about how this type of claim works and how your attorney can help you calculate these costs.
Pain and suffering in law
Pain and suffering is not just a term that somebody invented to support a personal injury claim. In fact, pain and suffering is a legal term with a clear definition. Pain and suffering can include:
- Physical and mental distress that your injury causes
- Aches, pains and temporary discomfort
- Temporary and permanent limitations on your daily life
Pain and suffering can even include the mental impact of a disfigurement or disability. For example, if you fall over and cause a permanent injury to your back, your pain and suffering claim could include a value that relates to the mental anguish you now experience because you cannot walk normally and you feel embarrassed about it.
Calculating pain and suffering values
The broad scope of a pain and suffering claim means that the actual value of this claim is somewhat subjective. As such, insurance companies and judges use different methods to attach a value to these claims.
In many cases, a court will award a value based on your actual medical costs multiplied by a value between one and five. When a court or insurance company uses this method, your lawyer will need to give evidence that shows how severe your pain and suffering is. In the worst cases, the pain and suffering compensation is worth five times the cost of your medical bills.
Alternatively, some attorneys prefer a method based on a daily value. Under this method (called per diem after the Latin for 'per day'), your lawyer might push for compensation of $100 a day for every day of suffering until you recover fully.
The law does not insist on a particular method. As such, other factors will often come into play. For example, some insurance companies use complex computer algorithms that weight the value based on certain criteria. Any injury that results in hospital injury may get a higher weighting than a slip and fall that only needs a visit to your family doctor.
Tips to support your claim
It's important to get the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, so he or she can help you substantiate the value of your claim. There are lots of ways you can strengthen your claim.
Medical evidence can always strengthen a case. For example, if you want to prove the mental anguish and suffering your slip and fall injury caused, a report from a mental health doctor is valuable. Similarly, while a pain and suffering claim should not include the cost of lost wages, a report from your employer about a change in your attitude and output at work can further strengthen your claim.
A court or insurance company will not just consider medical evidence. A statement from your friends or family can help show how the slip and fall changed your life. For example, a back injury after an accident like this could mean you are unable to enjoy a healthy sex life, which could, in turn, put your marriage under pressure. A statement from your spouse could strengthen this part of your claim.
Personal evidence is also valuable. Many attorneys recommend that you keep a personal journal that documents your feelings each day. You can also describe the tasks that you couldn't do or any activities that your injury ruined.
Throughout the process, your attorney will help you decide what's fair. If you push for the highest multiplier for a minor bump on the head, you're unlikely to get the outcome you want. Conversely, you must also consider the likely duration of your pain and suffering when you claim. Don't overlook or ignore the future potential impact that a slip and fall injury could have on your life.
Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious physical injuries, but you'll also need to consider the cost of your pain and suffering as part of a personal injury lawsuit. Speak to attorneys like Burgess & Perigard for more advice and guidance.