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How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

Nov 20, 2020 | Personal Injury


After an individual suffers a personal injury, there are two kinds of damages associated with the accident: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include doctor bills, missed work, property damage, household expenses, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Essentially, these are the damages that have a quantifiable price tag associated with them.

Non-economic damages include things that are more difficult to quantify, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish. Because there isn’t a direct price tag associated with these damages, they’re a bit more difficult to calculate.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a broad term used to describe the physical and mental damage that a person undergoes as a result of an accident. Some symptoms of pain and suffering might include:

  • Physical pain from the injuries
  • Fear
  • Insomnia
  • Worry
  • Grief
  • Loss of companionship (in the case of the death of a loved one following a personal injury)
  • Depression
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities while physically healing

Some of the mental ailments following the accident might have a quantifiable cost associated with them if you seek counseling or therapy. But the ultimate goal of seeking pain and suffering damages is to compensate you for the many inconveniences you’ve suffered as the result of someone else’s neglect.

How Is Pain and Suffering Compensation Calculated?

Insurance adjusters often take the economic damages associated with a personal injury and multiply that by a specific factor to get to a pain and suffering number. 

However, be wary of taking the amount that the insurance adjuster offers. The adjuster is trained to try and limit the expenses of an accident, which means it might not be a fair amount. This is why it is so important to hire a skilled personal injury attorney following an incident.

Attorneys argue for a much larger factor when creating the multiplication formula for calculating pain and suffering payments. Your attorney might recommend a factor of one and a half to five times the amount in economic damages for your injury.

You should know, though, that the courts will consider additional factors when calculating pain and suffering. These factors include:

  • Whether or not the victim was partially at fault for the accident. 
  • The extent to which your injuries are verified and medically supported.
  • The severity of injuries, such as an injury that requires surgery.
  • Injuries that require long periods of healing might also get higher pain and suffering compensation.
  • Permanent conditions or long-term injuries, such as a disability or chronic pain, might receive a higher rate for pain and suffering.

To receive a pain and suffering award from an insurance company or at-fault party following a personal injury, you don’t necessarily need to fit in exactly with any of the above five conditions. Just know that the more serious your injuries are, the more likely the courts will be to award you pain and suffering compensation.

What Is Indiana’s Comparative Negligence Rule?

When evaluating the total amount you can recover following a personal injury, the courts will factor in Indiana’s comparative negligence rule. This rule states that an individual who is responsible for more than 50 percent of the accident’s cause cannot seek any financial recovery from the other party involved.

What happens if another party is mostly at fault for your injuries, but the court rules you are partially responsible for the accident? The court will then reduce your total compensation by the percentage that it finds you responsible for the accident. 

For example, if you’re in a car accident, the courts might determine you were 20 percent at fault for the accident. But they also recognize that you suffered serious economic and non-economic consequences as a result of the accident. Therefore, the court will order that the insurance company pays you $100,000.

However, because you were ruled to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, the amount the insurance company would have to pay you would be 80 percent of what the court determined the other party owed you. So you would get $80,000 from the insurance company, since you contributed to the accident.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney

Calculating pain and suffering is complicated because there isn’t an exact formula for doing so. A personal injury attorney is a huge asset to any injury-related case. You should retain counsel as soon as possible after suffering an injury. 

Your attorney will make the process of your personal injury lawsuit move smoothly and ensure your rights are protected. Some of the things your attorney will do for your case include:

  • File and submit all necessary paperwork and documentation
  • Contribute expert witnesses to strengthen your case
  • Negotiate settlements to avoid a trial and resolve the issue quickly, if possible
  • Recognize a fair settlement when the at-fault party puts one forward

Stewart & Stewart is a team of expert personal injury attorneys who will work hard to negotiate fair pain and suffering compensation based on your injuries. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal needs.

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