Legal Guide

What Is My Pain And Suffering Worth?

Let’s assume for a moment that you got into a car accident that required a hospital stay. Upon discharge, you settled the hospital bill, implying the economic damage due to injury. The value of the expense is quantifiable, right? What about the pain you had to endure during the process of treatment? How about the loss of earnings due to a job loss resulting from injury? Can you place a dollar value on these? 

Turns out that you can, if you opt to pursue a third-party claim for damages, possibly due to negligence on the defendant’s part. Unfortunately, an insurance company may offer you a raw deal if you decide to single-handedly pursue a compensation claim for an accident or injury. That’s why you need to involve a legal expert from an institution such as The Zucker Law Firm to ease the process. 

How is the cost of non-economic damage (pain and suffering) determined? Let’s figure that out. 

Understanding Pain And Suffering

An accident may result in non-quantifiable emotional or physical injury and damages in various forms. Here’s a list of non-economic issues that could cause you pain and suffering:

  • Emotional upheaval
  • Mental discomfort
  • Loss of sleep
  • Disfigurement
  • Future physical pain or impairment
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Inconvenience

Quantifying such pain and suffering can be a tedious and long-drawn process because damages such as emotional distress may not appear to have a direct link to financial loss. That’s where an insurance adjuster comes in. 

The burden of providing objective proof of non-economic loss is squarely on the plaintiff’s shoulders. For instance, documentation of continuing medical treatment may indicate proof of pain. The insurance adjuster can put a dollar value on your suffering in light of such proof. How is that done?

Quantifying Pain And Suffering

What is the benchmark for a pain and suffering settlement? Would you be surprised if an insurance company opts to take the easy way out of a settlement claim? Turns out that this happens more often than you might want to imagine. 

Insurance adjusters use the value of your economic losses due to injury to value your pain and suffering. These usually include the loss of income and medical bills you’ve incurred. After plugging the value of damages into computer software, adjusters come up with a figure that may be half to one times the cost of your economic damages as compensation. 

Sounds somewhat arbitrary, right? What if you feel shortchanged? Are there more suitable means to value your claim? Full disclosure, such software may disregard other non-quantifiable factors in your injury claim. 

The Best Approach To Valuing Damages

Pain and suffering transcend the perceived financial losses from injury. You may have lost your earnings, but does compensation account for the cost of disfigurement or mental distress that may affect your social life or even chances of securing future employment? The value a jury finds reasonable for such non-quantifiable loss should be part of your total compensation package. 

It is within your right to seek compensation for damages affecting your past and future. A past pain and suffering claim considers personal loss from the time of injury or accident up to the insurance settlement. Conversely, future pain weighs the potential loss due to injuries that may cause a lifetime of suffering. In this regard, an insurance company may use either of the following strategies to value your claim:

Multiplier Method

In this strategy, an insurance company multiplies your actual economic damages by a variable between 1 and 5 to determine the total value of your pain and suffering. For instance, if we use a variable of 2, assuming economic damages of $10,000, the pain and suffering damages would be $20,000. 

What factors affect the variable used to determine pain and suffering compensation? 

  • Severity of injury
  • Nature of injury
  • Likelihood of full recovery
  • How injuries affect your daily life
  • How much fault (in percentage) is attributable to the defendant (liable party)

Per Diem Approach

In this case, an insurer assigns a specific figure as a daily rate for the duration of your suffering or until recovery. For instance, a daily rate of $200 for 60 days would mean a pain and suffering claim of $12,000. Clearly, a higher rate and a longer recovery timeline would imply a higher value. 

To determine the value of future pain and suffering, an insurer would multiply your life expectancy with the reasonable value assigned for your daily suffering. However, an insurance company is not obligated to use these approaches to determine your claim. 

How can you tell the amount of compensation is fair or reasonable based on a ballpark sum? Do you picture circumstances not considered in the future claim that could raise or lower the amount? These are worth keeping in mind. A personal injury attorney can help you negotiate a fair claim for pain and suffering. Relying on a professional’s expertise is the logical approach to clearing the murky waters when dealing with insurers or third parties. 

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