Do Insurance Companies Pay for Pain and Suffering?
Recover Compensation For Pain & Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are not the same as punitive damages. They are part and parcel of your personal injury settlement. They are not considered unusual or reserved for situations when someone has done something seriously wrong. Pain and suffering accompany your physical injuries. If you have gone through any ordeal after your accident, you can receive pain and suffering damages. Read on to learn more about pain and suffering damages and compensation from our experienced personal injury lawyers.
Pain and Suffering Is One of the More Misunderstood Personal Injury Damages
These types of damages are often not well understood by the average person. People know that they can get paid for their medical bills and even for the time that they miss from work. However, they may not understand that they can get compensation for other things they have endured.
Pain and suffering belong to the category of non-economic damages. In any personal injury case, there are two types of damages. The first is economic damages that represent the direct costs of the injury. This category includes money that comes out of your pocket or should come into your pocket that does not.
Economic damages can represent:
Insurance Companies Even Undervalue Economic Damages
Theoretically, economic damages are easier to calculate because there is a known dollar figure on them. After all, you know how much you pay in medical bills and how much property damage you have sustained.
In practice, the insurance company even makes economic damages challenging to negotiate because they have different values that they put on things. An insurance company will do anything to save money at your expense. There is no effort that they will spare to pay you less. That's why you shouldn't talk to an adjuster without an attorney.
Subjective Damages Are Difficult to Value
You can imagine how difficult things may be when dealing with a type of damage that does not have a tangible dollar value attached. That is precisely what non-economic damages are. They are not any less of a loss than economic damages. When you get paid for a tangible economic loss, the compensation relates to something that you have physically lost. For non-economic damages, you have still suffered a loss, even though you cannot point at a physical something.
Non-economic damages stem from subjective non-monetary losses. Instead of paid bills, they relate to your ordeal and experience since the accident. Each accident victim endures their own unique experience. Our law firm covers how to calculate pain and suffering in our personal injury blog, but scheduling an appointment to discuss your specific case is always recommended.
Different People Respond Differently to Injuries
For example, a severe back injury will impact people in different ways. If one person was an active athlete, they might lose out on an essential part of their life that they cannot ever do again. Another person may have already had some disc or vertebrae damage, and a back injury will affect them far more. Some personal injury victims may have fragile emotional health and can suffer from severe anxiety and depression from their accident.
However the accident has impacted you, the insurance company has a legal obligation to compensate you for pain and suffering. Money is what they use to place a value on what you have gone through since the time that their policyholder was negligent. Pain and suffering are the same things as any other loss you have suffered, even if it is not tangible. They are part of your damages, and you must receive compensation for them.
What Does Pain and Suffering Include?
Pain and suffering belong to a broader category of damages. You can receive compensation for loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress.
Specifically, pain and suffering may include:
These are things that practically anyone may go through after an accident. First, physical injuries can be painful. Someone will rarely suffer a physical injury and not feel any discomfort. Beyond that, physical injuries can cause many other effects that impact people differently.
You may feel upset and depressed because you can no longer do what you did. The inconvenience of your physical injuries can cause you continuous aggravation. Practically every single bodily injury has something that goes along with it.
Your injuries have caused you to miss good times. The time that you might have otherwise put to use for pleasure you spend dealing with the effects of your injuries. The pain and suffering impacted your time, which means you have lost something that the defendant should pay in full.
Insurance Companies Never Want to Pay You in Full
The main issue with pain and suffering is quantifying how much you legally deserve for your damages. By definition, pain and suffering are subjective. In other words, they focus on what you are dealing with personally. Further, you have every right to be paid for your own specific experience because it is your loss.
Like any element of your personal injury damages, the main obstacle in receiving total damages for your pain and suffering is that the insurance company does not want to pay fully for your damages. Any insurance adjuster is intelligent and experienced enough to see what you are likely going through based on your medical records. They know enough to understand that you are dealing with a challenging experience when you have suffered a severe injury.
Insurance Companies Do Not Want to Hear Your Experience
However, when it comes time to value your claim, the insurance company tries to throw you personally out the window in favor of a formula that they can manipulate to save themselves money. An insurance company's mission is to toss subjective overboard in favor of something that they claim is objective. The reality is that their calculations objectively favor themselves. It will be similar to allowing a player to referee their own game. They will always come up with something that benefits their chances of victory.
How Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering
Insurance companies may try to use two primary types of calculations in your case:
Multiplier - The insurance company will take your economic damages (primarily your medical bills) and assign a multiplier to them based on the severity of your injury. More severe injuries will have a higher multiplier.
Per diem - When your injury has a more set duration, the insurance company will assign a specific dollar value for each day you are dealing with your injuries. The insurance company usually uses the per diem method for less severe injuries.
The multiplier method may not accurately calculate your damages for a severe injury. You might suffer from serious mental health issues even from a more moderate injury. For example, being off your feet for months from a broken leg can cause depression in someone who likes to go out and be active.
You can feel confident that the insurance company will choose as low of a multiplier as possible that does not reflect your reality. They may also underestimate the amount of future medical care that you need to dial down your pain and suffering damages.
Look out, because the number you see on paper with your settlement offer is not necessarily correct and untouchable. The insurance company will load many tricks and pitfalls into that number to cost you money.
You Will Have Challenges Explaining Your Pain and Suffering Damages
Many issues come with valuing pain and suffering damages. You have already experienced pain and suffering, but you will also endure it in the future. Your compensation must include both past and future pain and suffering. The insurance company may dispute whether your damages are permanent and what your life may be like in the future.
Further, the insurance company may not believe you when you explain what you are going through. The insurance company will take advantage of any opportunity to challenge your story. They want to turn you from a human being into a number that results in you being underpaid.
How to Effectively Tell Your Own Story After an Accident
You have multiple opportunities to tell your story when trying to get paid for your injuries. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company for a higher multiple or per diem payment for your pain and suffering. This higher payment can either come from what appears in your medical records or your own story.
One way to put yourself in a position to get more money for pain and suffering is to document what you are dealing with after your accident. If you have evidence from the time that you are experiencing it, you may be more persuasive.
The best thing is to keep a log and get witness testimony. In addition, you can use testimony from a mental health provider or your prescription history to show what you are going through.
For example, if you can prove that your injuries require continuous painkillers or that your anxiety requires mental health treatment, it can show your experience after your accident.
Proving pain and suffering is another reason you need to tend to your injuries. If you do not get the help you need, the insurance company or a jury can find that you failed to mitigate your damages. Seeing a doctor may help you get some relief, but it can also create a paper trail that shows your injuries’ effect on you.
An Attorney Can Help You Prove Pain and Suffering
In addition, you should have an attorney who knows the amount of money that you are due in pain and suffering damages. Too many people accept whatever money the insurance company puts in front of them without knowing that the insurance company has far more room to raise any offer that they make you.
The average person will not even know how to value their pain and suffering damages or justify and explain the amount they are seeking. An attorney will tell your story and show how and why you have been affected by the injury.
Pain and suffering awards are all over the spectrum in any personal injury case. There is a wide range of outcomes between how your attorney and the insurance company value your claim. Not every claimant or plaintiff has the expertise on their side to both properly value and fight for the pain and suffering award that they deserve.
You Can Negotiate for Higher Compensation
Any personal injury claim requires negotiating with the insurance company to get what you deserve. If the insurance company is not even offering pain and suffering damages, your negotiation will make a counter demand that seeks this money. If the multiplier or per diem number that the insurance company uses is too low, you can respond with a settlement offer that more accurately reflects your experience and damages.
If the insurance company does not give you the pain and suffering damages you deserve, you can always take your case to the jury. Never underestimate the capacity of a jury to understand you as a person. They see your side of the story, they don't look at you as a number. Insurance companies know this, so they almost always settle cases before they reach a jury. They know what a jury may do, and they want to avoid that risk.
Your Personal Injury Lawyer Is On Your Side
In any personal injury case, you are not powerless. Your power comes in part from having an aggressive and dedicated attorney fighting by your side when the insurance company tries to take money from you.
When the insurance company makes a lowball offer - especially for pain and suffering - you can feel demoralized. With the right legal representation, however, you should not feel unnecessary stress due to insurance company tactics. Your personal injury attorney will handle every communication for you, so you do not have to experience the adjuster’s attempts at minimizing your pain and suffering. Your lawyer will fight behind the scenes for the full settlement you deserve.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.