If you’ve suffered an injury at the fault of someone else, you may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault party.
But you’ll need to prove what all you’ve lost to determine what compensation you deserve. And hiring an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney is the best way to do that.
Once we get started, you have two types of proof to determine your compensation. Medical bills and other special damages are easier to calculate, but there’s also the question of pain and suffering. It’s a phrase we often hear with personal injury claims. But what does it really mean, and how do you calculate it?
Defining Pain and Suffering
In the legal world, “pain and suffering” refers to the combined physical and emotional damage sustained by an individual after an injury caused by another’s negligence.
Another way to put it is that pain and suffering damages address the overall loss of comfort, happiness and opportunity after an incident.
Special versus General Damages
There are two types of “damages” measured after a car accident or personal injury. Special damages include: medical treatment costs (both past and anticipated future), lost wages, and any property damage (such as your vehicle). Special damages can be easier to calculate because the expenses have clear costs/concrete numbers.
General damages are more difficult to calculate. Pain and Suffering falls under general damages and can include mental distress, a physical disability caused by an accident, and measures of a lowered quality of life.
But there is another distinction. There are two main categories of pain and suffering:
- Physical pain and suffering– This is the actual physical pain that the injured party has suffered and will continue to suffer in the future as a result of the at-fault party’s negligence. This may include:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Muscle strain or sprain
- Pulled muscle pain
- Dislocation pain
- Nerve damage
- Broken bone pain
- Mental / emotional pain and suffering- Mental pain and suffering is any sort of negative emotion that occurs as a result of the incident. Examples can include:
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Mood swings
- Distress over a disability
- Sleep disturbances
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
Applying a monetary number to either mental distress or the pain of a sore neck is a difficult task. An experienced attorney can help fight this battle to ensure that you are really getting what you need and deserve for your experience.
How do you prove pain and suffering?
Proving pain and suffering is difficult, but worth it. The party responsible for your injury will seek a lower number than what you likely deserve. Strong, detailed documentation will be one of the best ways to support a pain and suffering claim.
- Do not withhold anything from your care providers. It is often easier to focus on our physical well-being because our emotional and mental well-being is less visible. Nothing is too small to mention to a provider. It is important that you talk with your providers if you are experiencing any emotional distress after your injury, including fear, sleep changes, grief, depression, anxiety, or inconvenient barriers in your life.
- Seek the support you need for your injuries, including counseling for mental distress if needed. If you have mentioned experiencing anxiety while driving to a few of your doctors and/or sought further support, your providers will have documented this.
- Keep your own journal. Write a bit daily about the treatment you received that day, how you are feeling, what you are struggling with in your daily routines, and any physical or emotional pain you are experiencing. This documentation can support a legal claim for pain and suffering, and may also offer you an emotional outlet.
- Keep your medicine. Hold onto all prescription bottles for painkillers, as well as medication for emotional distress, like antidepressants or anxiety medication.
How does pain and suffering get calculated?
Many factors are considered when determining a quantifiable number for pain and suffering. A few of the most influential factors in determining your pain and suffering award include:
- the severity of your injuries
- the types of treatment you are receiving
- the effects your injuries have had on your daily routines and life
- any mental distress as a result of your injuries
There are two common methods that attempt to calculate pain and suffering.
The Per Diem Method is an approach where the insurance company pays the victim a consistent, daily amount per day until they have fully recovered. The daily rate will be based on the documentation of your pain and suffering, including all factors that have been discussed.
The Multiplier Method is perhaps more common than the Per Diem Method. Pain and suffering is calculated by multiplying the quantifiable medical bills by a number. The multiplier is determined by the severity of the injuries, as evidenced by all of the documentation available about your injuries, treatment, and overall impact. The multiplier is typically between 1 and 5.
There are a few circumstances where these two methods may not be sufficient. If, for example, an accident leaves you with burns or scars that are not expensive to treat but will last a lifetime, you should speak to your lawyer about whether there’s a better way to seek compensation.
How do you know if an offer is fair?
As stated above, the original offer is usually less than you deserve. But how can you know if an offer is fair, or when to keep negotiating?
Starting with the above methods, you should also take into account any other factors that would increase or decrease this monetary value. For example, if you’ve suffered a permanent injury because of the incident, that would be a reason for an increase in the amount for pain and suffering.
Ultimately, to determine what’s fair, you should consult your attorney, who has experience with these types of cases.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
What can pain and suffering look like in real-life examples?
- Let’s say the victim of a car accident suffers from severe bodily injuries, as well as anxiety and depression that lingers long after his injuries have healed. If these issues keep him from sleeping at night or prevent him from going back to work, he can seek compensation for pain and suffering in regards to all of these issues.
- Another car accident victim suffers from back strain that prevents her from exercising, even though she had been training for months to run a marathon. Her new situation leaves her frustrated and depressed, and although she doesn’t require a therapist, her pain and suffering can still require compensation.
- Someone else was walking in a park when a construction accident sent a heavy piece of machinery onto his foot. Now he has trouble walking, which prevents him from taking a vacation he was looking forward to. The frustration, anger, and pain from the actual injury all count as pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering is not always well-represented in the media and movies and television. Here are some common misconceptions people have about how pain and suffering damages really work:
- Some people believe that pain and suffering is overcompensated, and this may be due to efforts from insurance companies to make the public see it that way. But state and federal caps on damages are imposed to make sure that doesn’t happen. Speak with your attorney today to find out what caps may be imposed on the damages you’d like to seek, and how your attorney can help make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
- Others believe that seeking compensation in a personal injury case automatically means you’re going to court. However, it’s been found that at least 95% of injury cases are settled without going to court at all. Speak to your lawyer to find out how you can get compensation without going to court.
- And still others think that anyone who witnessed a traumatizing accident can seek compensation for emotional pain and suffering. In some cases, that may be the case, but each state has different laws and different precedents for indirect victims of an incident.
How Robert Armstrong Can Help You
Robert Armstrong began his law practice of helping people through difficult times after he witnessed a terrible and preventable accident while working on an oil rig at the age of 22. Since that day, he’s dedicated his work to working with everyday people who have suffered because of someone else’s negligence.
Licensed in North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey, Robert believes in the importance of an attorney-client relationship. That’s why he spends time getting to know his clients and their stories, so as to better understand and represent their needs.
Robert works in the following areas:
- Car accident injury
- Truck accident injury
- Motorcycle accident injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain injury
No matter the type of accident, an injury that was caused by a faulty product or someone else’s negligence means that you should consult with an attorney who can fight on your behalf.
Robert Armstrong is ready and willing to work with you to understand what you’ve been through and work to get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
“We were both seriously injured in an automobile accident in North Carolina on our way home to New York. Robert L. Amstrong was highly recommended by a New York attorney. During our long recoveries and afterwards, he was in frequent contact with us to keep us posted on the progress of our cases. He addressed all our questions and concerns with clear explanations. In addition, Robert Armstrong showed a personal interest in the progress of our recoveries. His secretary, Stephanie, was excellent in handling all the required paperwork. She was always pleasant and friendly when we spoke to her on the telephone. We would highly recommend the law firm of Robert L. Armstrong.” – John McGullam
Contact Robert Armstrong Today
Pain and suffering is hard enough to experience after an injury. When it comes to getting what you deserve financially, it can be an uphill battle that requires a great deal of legal knowledge and experience. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact Robert Armstrong today for a free case evaluation.