How Can You Put a Value on Pain and Suffering?

December 14, 2017 | David Abels
How Can You Put a Value on Pain and Suffering? Gary Annes Personal Injury Lawyer in ChicagoAmong the most difficult questions to answer when it comes to accidents resulting in personal injuries is how to place a monetary value on claims. Obviously, far more personal questions come first, such as whether you or your loved ones also involved in the accident will fully recover and whether the accident will have life-long impacts on you and your family. But when those questions are put to rest, other, more practical considerations have direct financial impacts on your life. You have suffered damages to yourself and your vehicle, at least in the case of a traffic accident. Who will pay for your medical care, or to repair (or even replace) your vehicle? How much will they pay? Furthermore, how do you put a precise value on the pain and suffering you incurred because of this accident? The short answer is, you can’t. There is no mathematical equation where you can plug in numbers at one end and get a total amount for your pain and suffering at the other end.

Accidents that Result in High Pain and Suffering Compensation

Any accident can result in high pain and suffering compensation if the accident is severe enough. Bad injury accidents can occur at any time to anyone, but so can minor accidents.Each individual case is different. Even accidents that cause minor injuries can still result in pain and suffering compensation, but it all depends on the exact situation.

Car and Truck Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents, especially accidents involving large commercial trucks, can cause serious injuries that may result in higher compensation. Large commercial trucks weigh a lot more than the average passenger car. Therefore, they can cause more significant damages, such as spinal injuries or traumatic brain injuries.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are known to cause traumatic brain injuries, especially if you slip and hit your head off of a counter top or other surface. Injuries due to slip and fall accidents that occur in the workplace can also be especially catastrophic, as workplace falls often involve falls from higher levels. Fractures that require surgical repair are also common due to slip and falls.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases can cause a lot of pain and suffering. In these cases, a person is already seeking out treatment from a doctor, hospital, or emergency room. The treatment that is then provided does not meet an acceptable standard of care, making the problem much worse and much more stressful. Medical malpractice can also include surgical error, prescription error, dosage error, or early discharge from the hospital or emergency room.

Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is often in the news for all kinds of situations that can lead to pain and suffering. Seniors in nursing homes can be unaware of what’s going on around them. They often don’t even realize they’re being abused or neglected. These cases are often filed by children or other relatives. Further, the pain and suffering compensation can be higher, especially if there’s gross negligence involved.

Injuries that Result in High Pain and Suffering Compensation

Pain and suffering compensation is recovered in almost all personal injury claims. The amount that is awarded depends on many factors, such as the change in the quality of life of the victim before and after the accident. But what injuries often result in the highest pain and suffering payouts?

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur often from slip and fall accidents and car accidents. These injuries occur when the head hits something forcefully, is struck against something, or is penetrated by something. While a traumatic brain injury can be as minor as a concussion, it can also cause unconsciousness, memory loss, coma, vegetative state, and even death. These injuries are also known to result in massive medical bills if they are severe. Inpatient hospitalization is very costly, and you’re likely to have high medical bills to deal with afterwards. Because of the severity of injury, your pain and suffering compensation will likely be higher as well.

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are common in car accidents, slips and falls, workplace injuries, and even can be made worse by medical malpractice. These injuries can cause permanent disability such as complete or incomplete paralysis. They have a huge impact on a person’s ability to function, and some may never walk again after having a spinal cord injury. For example, if you were an active person before your injury but have lost the ability to walk, your pain and suffering compensation will be much higher than someone with less severe injuries who didn’t experience such a large change in the quality of their life.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death refers to any death that occurs because of a personal injury accident. If your family member dies in a car accident, truck accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice case, or even nursing home abuse, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit on his or her behalf. In this type of case, the pain and suffering compensation would cover the trauma the patient had to go through before their death as well as the trauma you had to go through as a loved one.

What Types of Damages Can You Claim?

There are two kinds of damages you can recover in an accident caused by another’s negligence. These are known as “actual damages” (or “special damages”) and “general damages".  Actual or special damages include such things as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. These are amounts that are relatively easily quantified. General damages are more subjective, harder to quantify, and include such items as pain and suffering. These damages can include:
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Physical pain
  • Stress
  • Disruption of or loss of ability to enjoy daily lifestyle activities
  • Loss of companionship

What Factors Affect Pain and Suffering Compensation?

There is no surefire way to calculate pain and suffering damages in an accident claim. However, lawsuits often yield a judgment much greater than actual damages. This is because a jury factors in pain and suffering, even though it is difficult to quantify. Factors the jury might consider in awarding damages for pain and suffering include:
  • The severity of the injuries
  • The pain and discomfort associated with those types of injuries
  • How the injuries have affected your ability to work, enjoy life, and fully participate in family or social relationships
  • The amount of medical treatments the injuries require, and the discomfort accompanying such treatments
  • How long the injuries take to heal
  • Whether the injuries will result in future pain or require future care, including therapy, medications, or additional surgeries.
Even online damages calculators, which attempt to put a value on accident claims, concede that there is no formulaic way to calculate pain and suffering. The range of damages juries might award for pain and suffering is quite broad, and depend on no hard figures. Generally, the amount simply represents what a jury believes is fair.

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

When determining how much compensation an injury victim will receive for pain and suffering, there are a lot of different schools of thought. Some articles online mention the per diem method or the multiplier method, but these aren't commonly used by attorneys. These methods are more often a way that insurance companies have found to come up with a number. They fail to consider the humanity of the situation. At Abels & Annes, we use our decades of experience, past jury verdicts, severity of the injuries, and the victim's prognosis to come up with a pain and suffering compensation amount that is fair and reasonable for our clients. The fact is, how much pain and suffering is worth is subjective. It is not easy and there is no simple formula. Instead, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how the unique facts of your case translate into compensation with a dollar amount. Then, your attorney has to negotiate with the insurance company to get them to agree to it, or make a reasonable settlement offer. This is why it is so important to have an attorney on your side that knows what they are doing when calculating and securing pain and suffering damages.

Given the Complexity of Establishing Pain and Suffering Damages, Hire an Attorney to Help You

Obviously, the roads and highways of this country can be dangerous places, and you always face the possibility of an injury from an accident through no fault of your own. Should this happen, for most people, the first thought is not to look for someone to sue, but to focus attention on medical treatments and recovery, getting back to work, becoming well enough to fully participate in family life, and other immediate concerns. However, at some point, financial concerns must move to the forefront. You should consider whether you have a right to compensation for your injuries. While you might simply file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, the insurance company might take one look at an unrepresented claimant and decide to get tough. The company could deny responsibility, dispute your damages, or even try to attribute fault for the accident to you. Personal injuries resulting from accidents frequently result in fact-intensive and legally complex claims. Given these kinds of circumstances, your claim is likely to result in the need for investigative and legal experience most people simply don’t have. To obtain the “right amount,” it is important to have an attorney who can present evidence of the nature of your injuries and the immediate and ongoing impact of those injuries on your life. The more information you can give a jury about the pain and suffering from your accident, the more likely you are to recover damages—and a greater amount of compensation for your damages.

If You Were Injured in an Accident in the Chicago area, Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of Abels & Annes

If you suffered an injury in an accident in the Chicago area, consult an attorney to determine your rights. You might recover damages for pain and suffering as well as for actual damages. The attorneys of Abels & Annes can protect your rights when you are involved in an accident. Reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.
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David Abels


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.

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