There is no personal injury calculator for determining the amount that should be paid for pain and suffering in a case. Each case is unique, and the degree in which victims suffer physical and emotional pain varies widely from person to person. Neither lawyers, nor judges, nor juries have any specific tool for determining the value of a case’s pain and suffering. Rather than a one-size-fits-all formula for calculating pain and suffering damages, attorneys and judges must assess a large amount of factors and details surrounding the case when determining the value of a claim.
Why is there no easy formula for estimating how much my claim is worth?
Damages for personal injury cases are categorized into one of two groups:
- Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, are the easy-to-quantify losses you sustain as a result of the accident, such as medical bills and lost wages. Estimating the value of economic damages is relatively straightforward because attorneys can use things such as bills, receipts, and pay stubs when valuing them.
- Non-economic damages, also called general damages, are the intangible losses victims suffer because of the accident. Pain and suffering falls under this category of damages, as does mental anguish, depression, loss of quality of life, and other emotional and psychological repercussions.
Because you cannot exactly put a dollar sign on pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, lawyers must look at pertinent factors in the victims’ cases to determine a fair estimate. Two people might suffer the same injury and yet have completely different emotional and psychological effects. One might fall into a deep depression, develop post-traumatic stress disorder, require counseling, and become incapable of functioning normally in her social circle, whereas the other victim may deal with the hardships exceedingly well and have very few long-lasting emotional ramifications. It is impossible to stamp a case with a price tag without getting to know the victims’ situations and injuries in depth.
Much like real estate appraisals, injury case value estimations are just that –estimations, not exact sums. An injury attorney will have to determine the seriousness of your injuries, your disability, and permanency of your injuries when valuing your claim.
So, how do you value pain and suffering for a personal injury case?
There are hundreds of factors that might affect the value of a personal injury case. Below are just a few that might play a role when estimating the value of your case.
- Any disfigurement or scarring
- The age of the victim
- Loss of the use of body parts or functions
- Duration of your recovery time
- The existence of emotional effects such as insomnia, worry, grief, and fear
- Types, frequency, and scope of medical treatments you need
- Emotional and psychological conditions and disorders that have developed due to the accident or the injury itself
Other factors also can affect how a case will ultimately be valued that have little to do with the victim or his/her injuries. The jurisdiction and venue of the injury case might come into play in cases that cannot settle without going to court. For instance, injury cases that will go to court in Philadelphia County (Center City, Philadelphia) are generally valued a bit higher than cases that will go to court in Bucks County. Bucks County is known to be a more conservative jurisdiction for jury awards.
In these cases, the attorney must then determine the value of their clients’ pain and suffering based on local settlements, local jury verdicts, arbitration awards, and other local factors. Even when all attempts have been made to estimate the value of a case, the exact same jury, in the same court, with the exact same injury case could return jury verdicts in different amounts. Your best bet is to have an experienced Bucks County injury lawyer provide you with the best evaluation of your personal injury case.
How is long-term pain and suffering valued?
Certain types of injuries are especially devastating and long-term. Severe, debilitating harm in young children, loss of limb, paralysis, and other catastrophic injuries tend to lead to more emotional harms. Victims of these types of cases are generally awarded substantial damages for pain and suffering. Below are a few illustrations of cases that can cause long-term pain and suffering and play a huge role in victims’ final settlements.
- Disfigurement – Facial scarring or disfigurement and other injuries that are highly visible to others can be troublesome in myriad ways. This can affect victims psychologically and may necessitate medical treatment to address those issues. For instance, post-traumatic stress disorder can require medication and/or counseling, not to mention affect the victim’s ability to work and carry on normal relationships.
- Pain – Likewise, long-term physical pain could lead to a reduced quality of life, as the victim may have difficulty participating in social activities. Victims’ ability to work may be impacted by their injuries, as well. If someone lost both legs or became a paraplegic in a motorcycle accident and had worked in construction, he would not be able to return to that line of work. This would cause not only financial repercussions, but also emotional losses, which would be factored into the pain and suffering damages.
- Traumatic treatments – The pain and trauma of the treatments themselves could affect the value of the non-economic damages. For example, if a victim suffered significant burn injuries over her body, she might need multiple skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries. These are extremely painful procedures that can affect patients physically and emotionally.
- Loss – There can also be a deep sense of loss, especially when someone sustains a traumatic amputation, brain injury, or spinal injury. This can lead to anxiety and depression, and a lifetime of pain and turmoil – all of which must be accounted for when filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Who can I call to help me with my personal injury case?
All the above are just some examples of emotional issues accident victims may face with a severe injury that could impact the value of a claim. In order to get a good estimate on the value of your particular case and the criteria you need to meet to file, call Cordisco & Saile, LLC to speak to an attorney in Bucks County. We handle all types of personal injury cases and can help you fight for the full amount of compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free consultation.