How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

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If you have been injured in an accident, you may wonder how pain and suffering is calculated. What factors are taken into account? How do you know if you are being offered a fair settlement?

The Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers with Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. have a proven track record of success in helping clients obtain the maximum compensation possible for injuries they have suffered due to the negligence of others. Our firm has consistently demonstrated the expertise needed to help our clients see that justice is served.

We have the resources needed to conduct thorough investigations of all the circumstances contributing to an accident, gathering the evidence to establish negligence and other types of liability. Contact us today for a free evaluation for assistance with your pain and suffering claim. We take sensitive or confidential information seriously and will not share it with anyone outside our law firm without your permission.

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage that includes an accident victim’s physical and emotional suffering. Any physical pain, mental anguish, and trauma you’ve suffered from your injuries are compensable as pain and suffering.

The award for pain and suffering is not based on your actual economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages. Instead, it’s based on the severity of your injuries, how long you’ve suffered, and whether any permanent disability or disfigurement resulted from the accident. If your injuries have significantly impacted your quality of life, you will likely receive a more significant award for pain and suffering.

What is physical pain and suffering

You can be awarded compensation for any aches, pain, discomfort, inconvenience, and limitations on your activities of daily living, caused by your injuries. This is typically called “pain and suffering”  If you had to give up hobbies, or other things you enjoy, or your life was made more difficult  because of your injuries, you can include these losses in your claim for physical pain and suffering.

Physical injuries that may qualify for pain and suffering compensation include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of a limb or use of a body part
  • Burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Other neck or back injuries, such as whiplash 
  • Cuts and bruises

Emotional Pain and Suffering

Emotional pain and suffering, also called mental anguish, is the emotional and psychological distress you experience from your injuries. Some accident victims may experience only mild emotional distress, while others may suffer from more severe psychological trauma. In addition to the stress, pain and turmoil to your life caused by the physical injuries, to the Emotional pain and suffering can also include

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • PTSD
  • Fear
  • Insomnia
  • Grief

Emotional pain and suffering is often the most difficult to quantify. Psychological injuries are often overlooked after an accident but can profoundly impact your quality of life. If you’ve experienced any emotional distress from your injuries, you should include it in your claim for pain and suffering damages.

Other Types of Pain and Suffering

In addition to physical and emotional pain and suffering, you may also be able to recover damages for other types of suffering, such as:

  • Loss of consortium: This damage is available to spouses of accident victims who have lost companionship or intimacy because of their injuries.
  • Loss of enjoyment in life: If your injuries have prevented you from participating in activities you previously enjoyed, you may be able to recover damages for this loss.
  • Scarring and disfigurement: If you’ve suffered any permanent scarring or disfigurement because of your injuries, you may be able to recover damages for this as well.
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What Personal Injury Accidents Can Lead to Pain and Suffering Damages?

Any personal injury accident can result in pain and suffering damages. Some of the most common accidents that lead to pain and suffering claims include:

Car Accidents

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury claims. If you’ve been involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to recover damages for your pain and suffering.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere, from grocery stores to office buildings. Often caused by hazardous conditions, these accidents can lead to severe injuries.

Medical Malpractice

If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, you may be able to recover damages for your pain and suffering. Medical malpractice can include errors made during surgery, incorrect diagnosis, or even birth injuries.

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents can be caused by several factors, including driver negligence, poor road conditions, or even defective pedestrian crossings.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be able to recover damages for your pain and suffering. Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has obtained more than $500 million in verdicts and settlements, and our attorneys have more than a century of combined legal experience. Two of our partners are certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Our firm has also earned the highest AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, one of the most respected attorney-ranking service organizations in the United States. Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. attorneys work passionately on behalf of our clients to help them secure fair compensation. There is no case that is too complex for us to litigate.

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How to Prove Pain and Suffering In Personal Injury Cases

Proving pain and suffering damages can be difficult. To recover damages for your pain and suffering, you must show that your injuries have caused you emotional or physical anguish. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Keep a journal: Keeping a journal of your injuries and how they’ve affected your life can help prove your pain and suffering damages.
  • Get a statement from your doctor: Your doctor can provide a report detailing the extent of your injuries and how they’ve impacted your life.
  • Get a statement from witnesses: If there are people who have witnessed the effect your injuries have had on your life, they can provide statements to support your claim.
  • Photographs and videos: Photographs and videos of your injuries and their effects can also help prove your pain and suffering damages.

Pain and suffering is not easily determined by looking at your medical bills. Instead, it is based on the extent of your injuries and how they’ve impacted your life. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the easier it will be to recover damages for your pain and suffering.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

There is no formula to calculate pain and suffering, although some insurance companies try to use one.  Every personal injury case is unique, so pain and suffering calculations depend upon each case’s facts and circumstances.

There are many ways to try to monetize pain and suffering.   Often insurance companies may use something called the multiplier method. 

The Multiplier Method

Insurance companies sometimes use a multiplier to determine the value of an accident victim’s pain and suffering damages. The economic expenses are multiplied by a number, based on the severity of the victim’s injuries and other factors, such as the length of the victim’s recovery.

For example, suppose an accident victim has $100,000 in economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. In that case, the insurance company may use a multiplier of two to calculate the victim’s pain and suffering damages. This would result in a total award of $200,000 ($100,000 in economic damages + $100,000 in pain and suffering damages).

The lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. do not believe that this is an appropriate way to value a claim. All claims are different, and the facts of each case should be looked at differently.  For example, someone may have suffered a severe fracture after an accident, but that fracture may only require a cast and no other medical treatment.  They also may have been able to work from home.   The fracture may result in a permanent life-long injury, but they may only have $10,000 in economic losses.   This case may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, even though the economic loss is only $10,000.    Conversely, someone may have only suffered minor injuries in a serious accident but may have gone to the hospital, where they had several diagnostic tests and were overnight for observation. That individual may have had a $50,000 hospital bill but may not have had any serious injury or required any further medical treatment.  That case may be worth less than a random multiple of the medical bills.  The Per Diem Method

Another way lawyers and insurance companies may try to calculate pain and suffering damages is known as the per diem method. This method pays a specific dollar amount for each day from the accident until the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement is the point at which the patient’s condition is not expected to improve further. 

Ultimately, if you cannot settle your case, it is a jury that will calculate pain and suffering, and they can use any method that they think is fair.   It is worth noting that some courts have limits on how lawyers can argue pain and suffering damages to a jury.  For example, in Maryland, it is permissible to make a per diem argument, but in Washington, DC it is prohibited. The most important thing when requesting compensation for pain and suffering is to have strong evidence to support your claim. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to prove your damages and recover the compensation you deserve.

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What Factors Can Affect the Value of a Pain and Suffering Claim?

Several factors can affect the value of a pain and suffering claim. Some of the most important factors to consider include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The length of your recovery
  • Whether you’ve suffered any permanent impairment or disfigurement: You may be entitled to more significant damages if you’ve suffered any permanent impairment or disfigurement because of your injuries.
  • The impact of your injuries on your quality of life
  • The age of the victim
  • The amount of economic damages you’ve suffered

If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. An experienced lawyer can help you understand the value of your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.

How Much Can I Recover in a Pain and Suffering Settlement?

For more than 50 years, the Washington DC personal injury lawyers of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. have successfully represented individuals and families who have been injured or lost loved ones due to someone else’s negligence.  Here is a small sample of some of our successful verdicts and settlements: 

  • $15 million for a woman who was permanently paralyzed from the neck down due to being struck by a stray bullet.
  • $6 million on behalf of a man who suffered a brain injury due to a rear-end collision.
  • $5 million medical malpractice settlement on behalf of a 14-year-old client who suffered a severe brain injury due to a doctor’s inappropriate chemical product use.
  • $4.8 million on behalf of a severely injured man when his motorcycle struck a trailer being pulled by a minivan.
  • $4.5 million for a woman who was seriously injured in a pedestrian accident after being struck from behind by a transit bus in a crosswalk.

See additional examples of our case victories and settlements on our “Case Results” page.

Other Damages You Can Recover in a Personal Injury Claim

In addition to pain and suffering, you may also be able to recover other damages in a personal injury claim. These can include:

  • Medical expenses: You may be able to recover the cost of your medical treatment, including any surgeries, hospitalization, medication, and physical therapy.
  • Lost wages: If your injuries have prevented you from working, you may be able to recover the wages you’ve lost as a result.
  • Property damage: If your property was damaged in the accident, you might be able to recover the cost of repairs or replacement.

No two personal injury cases are alike, so it’s important to speak with an experienced lawyer to discuss the specific damages you may be entitled to recover.

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Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Washington, D.C. Today

If you are looking for the highest level of representation available for your personal injury case, turn to Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Our firm has helped clients recover more than $500 million in compensation, and we have more than 100 years of combined experience. All of our partners are recognized by Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®, and our firm includes three past presidents of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

 We value the attorney-client relationship, and we work to help our clients obtain fair settlement offers to compensate them for the injuries they’ve suffered, but our attorneys are extremely well-equipped to go to trial if needed. Call (202) 659-8600  or contact us online to get the proven legal representation you deserve.

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