In a personal injury claim, you've heard of pain and suffering damages but how can you place an amount on something intangible? The law does outline a way and your personal injury attorney based on the details of the case will be able to figure out a suitable amount to compensate for the emotional damages incurred. First, let's jump into the different kinds of damage so that there is a better understanding as to how this is possible.
Non-Economic and Economic Damages
In all personal injury cases, there are both economic and no economic damages. Pain and suffering fall under the category of non-economic damage. Why? Well non-economic damage means that the exact financial cost and award are subjective, which is why pain and suffering fall under this categorization.
There are numerous things that play a role in determining pain and suffering damages, such as an excessive hospital bill. In fact, any significant economic damages (medical bills, surgeries, serious injuries, etc.) demonstrate that emotional pain is likely a consequence of your injury.
Any severe injuries can lead to emotional distress and trigger a trauma response, depression, or be a source of anxiety. That's where pain and suffering damages factor into the equation. These things are determined by your personal injury attorney and a jury in some cases. Pain and suffering damages can cover beyond your current situation and can even cover possible future distress. This is especially the case if you endure chronic medical or mental health problems because of your injury from the car accident.
Limits on Non-Economic Damages in Florida
Now that we have made the difference between economic and non-economic damages clear, let's go into some limitations placed on non-economic damages in Florida. While Florida doesn't have any excessive limitations regarding how much you can go after compensation-wise, there are two main exceptions. These exceptions apply in the case of a medical malpractice claim ($500,000.00) and the majority of claims that go against municipal and state governments ($200,000.00).
A personal injury lawyer may be able to discuss what pain and suffering compensation damages could be available in your case when you contact them for a consultation.
Proving Pain and Suffering in Florida
After a life-changing injury, it can be really difficult for people to go back to their normal everyday routine. That is why documenting how your injuries impact your day-to-day life can be useful in a personal injury case. This can include medical and mental health treatment records, which explain the specific ways in which your life is affected because of your injury, this is defined as your pain and suffering damages.
If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or mental anguish, connecting with a counselor or psychiatrist may help you treat your symptoms. Documentation of these conditions may increase the validity of your pain and suffering claims as well for the other driver's insurance company.
More than half of those who are hospitalized with a serious injury experience mental health symptoms, ranging from anxiety to depression. Acute stress disorder, which can transition into vehophobia or PTSD, is present in as many as 45% of injury survivors, meaning that struggling with mental distress following a major injury is common.
Unfortunately, physical and mental injuries can continue to impede your ability to maintain or resume your accustomed lifestyle. Following treatment recommendations and expressing your progress honestly with your medical providers may ensure that any lingering or chronic symptoms from your injury are documented in your medical records for your personal injury case.
Quantifying Pain And Suffering
The truth is there is no exact way to pinpoint the exact dollar amount for these types of damages. There are a number of ways in which insurance companies calculate pain and suffering damages as part of an injury settlement. The two most common types are by usine the multiplier method and the "per diem" (daily rate) method.
The multiplier method
This is probably one of the most common methods used to add up all the special damages (remember, those are your easily calculable economic losses) and multiply those by a number between 1.5 on the low end, and 4 or 5 on the high end.
This second number (called a "multiplier") will depend on your case specifically. The things brought into consideration are things including the seriousness of your injuries, your prospects for a quick and complete recovery, the impact of your injuries on your day-to-day-life, and whether or not the other party was clearly at fault for the underlying accident.
You are going to have to argue for a higher multiplier while the defendant, or more specifically their insurer, will want to use a lower multiplier. This list of effecting factors will help you determine the appropriate multiplier.
All of the following must be present in order for the fact to be 5:
the other party was the at fault driver
your injuries can be observed or detected by medical examination
your injuries are painful and dramatic: This can include but is not limited to a fracture, a wound, a tear, or displacement that requires surgical treatment or can not fully be repaired
diagnosis and treatment must come from physicians and hospitals
recovery must be prolonged (six months or more)
you must suffer a permanent consequence caused directly by your injury
your physicians must clearly indicate that you will have recurring, degenerative, or future problems as a result of the injuries
The "per diem" or daily rate method
Another approach to calculating pain and suffering damages is called the "per diem" method. "Per Diem" is just Latin for "per day", and the idea is to demand a certain dollar amount for every day you had to live with the pain caused by your accident.
This approach becomes complicated because it is justifying a daily rate. A good way to make sure your daily rate is "reasonable" is to use your actual, daily earnings. The argument here is that having to deal with the pain caused by your injuries every day is at least comparable to the effort of going to work each day.
Let's illustrate the "per diem" method with an example. Imagine you were rear-ended and suffered from neck strain or whiplash. You are now forced to wear a neck brace and take pain pills for two months because of the injury. This means you will continue to suffer with the pain for another three months, meaning your pain and suffering damages should amount to a total of five months (roughly 150 days). At your current or most recent job, you earn $45,000 per year – that's $180 per day when you divide your salary by 250 working days per year.
To get to a pain and suffering settlement in this case, just multiply your $180 daily rate by 150 days of pain, and you arrive at $27,000.
This method does not work well with long-term or permanent injuries, but in most of those cases, you will want an injury attorney's opinion. Your settlement will likely be based on related verdicts and settlements in your jurisdiction.
Best way to calculate: Utilize both methods
In order to start to try to figure out what your pain and suffering damages could possibly amount to, you are going to want to utilize both methods. You may get extremely different values but that's okay because it all comes down to a negotiation in the end.
If you were hit by a drunk driver that ran a red light and you have a bunch of medical bills, start on the highest end of your calculated settlement range. This is a prime example of a clear-cut case but not all will be so easy to determine. When looking at your calculated ranges it is important to keep this in mind. Every case is unique, but the idea is that you want to start at some reasonable number that you can justify.
The Statute of Limitations for Pain and Suffering in Florida
To claim pain and suffering compensation, you must file your lawsuit within a certain amount of time following the injury and accident. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida are:
Three years for most claims
Between two and four years for medical malpractice claims
Four years for personal injury claims
Filing personal injury lawsuits promptly and in accordance with the law is necessary to pursue damages and recover in a personal injury settlement or in litigation.
Common examples of claims that can warrant damages for pain and suffering include:
Injuries related to an assault or act of violence
A lawyer may be able to discuss what legal time limits pertain to your personal injury case and what your options for compensation are.
What should I do if I have suffered from a bodily injury after an accident?
After any accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. You want to make sure any injuries you may have are taken care of properly. Then call trusted personal injury attorneys, like those at Demesmin and Dover Law Firm.
They will help walk you through your case every step of the way. Our team of experts will handle speaking with insurance companies for you and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for all of the pain and suffering that you have been through. So if you need help with your personal injury case call 866-954-MORE (6673) today for your free consultation.