How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

You can seek pain and suffering damages as part of a Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuit. Physical pain and suffering damages compensate you for the actual pain and suffering you’ve felt and continue to feel after your accident. Emotional pain and suffering damages compensate you for the mental and emotional trauma related to your accident.

Pain and suffering damages can vary from case to case, but they may form a significant portion of your potential compensation from a personal injury lawsuit.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Economic damages are easy to quantify and include things such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Property Damage

Non-economic damages–including physical and emotional pain and suffering–are much harder to assign a dollar value. An insurance company will evaluate many factors when determining how much to offer for non-economic damages. If the case goes to a jury, it’s difficult to predict how much pain and suffering damages they will award.

Keep in mind that there may be limitations on your recovery for certain damages. For example, Pennsylvania’s modified comparative fault law may limit your damages if you were partially at fault for your accident.

Physical Pain and Suffering

Physical pain and suffering take a variety of forms. After a car accident or other type of personal injury, you may experience the following types of physical pain and suffering:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Joint pain in the shoulders, knees, hips, or elbows
  • Neck pain
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Nerve damages
  • Partial or full paralysis

More severe and long-lasting forms of pain may support a higher claim for pain and suffering damages in your personal injury case.

Emotional Pain and Suffering

Each accident victim experiences emotional pain and suffering in different ways. This can be caused by traumatic memories of a car accident or motorcycle accident. It can also be related to the constant physical pain after the accident or the change in lifestyle required due to severe injuries.

Emotional pain and suffering may result in any of the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Insomnia
  • Repeatedly reliving the accident
  • Lowered quality of life

Make sure you discuss these issues with a medical professional. Emotional suffering can be just as serious and sometimes more severe than physical suffering.

Factors That Affect Your Pain And Suffering Damages

An insurance company will evaluate your claim for pain and suffering damages based on all of the following factors:

  • The type and severity of your injuries
  • How long you are disabled due to the injuries
  • Whether you have permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • How the injuries changed your lifestyle, such as loss of work or hobbies
  • The amount of physical pain you’ve experienced
  • Emotional or mental trauma caused during and after the accident

Similar injuries can cause different levels of pain and suffering in different people. A hand injury may be especially traumatic to someone who works with their hands every day. An elbow injury may reduce the quality of life for someone whose favorite hobby is playing tennis.

If you’re dealing with serious injuries after an accident, you should also talk to a personal injury lawyer promptly. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations is only two years for a personal injury lawsuit.

Proving Your Pain and Suffering Damages

Physical pain will often require medical evidence, including medical records or testimony from medical professionals. You should also keep a journal of the physical pain you experience each day to document the severity and length of the pain.

Emotional pain may be shown in a variety of ways. Medical evidence may be used to document symptoms of depression or PTSD. Witnesses may also testify as to how your injuries have changed your life or what activities you can no longer perform.

Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering

An insurance company will have its own model of calculating the monetary value of your pain and suffering damages. Two common methods are the multiplier method and the per diem method.

Multiplier Method

This method bases the amount of your personal injury damages on a multiple of your actual damages. A multiple of 1 to 5 is used depending on the severity of your injuries.

For example, if you have $100,000 of actual damages and a multiplier of 3 is used, your pain and suffering damages would equal $300,000.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method assigns a value to each day you felt pain and suffering. You would then multiply this value by the number of days you were in pain.

Whatever method is used, there are a variety of factors that need to be considered. Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about how pain and suffering damages could be calculated in your case.