Pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit is usually described as “non-economic damages.” Your pain and suffering may not have a dollar value, in terms of time spent in the hospital or seeing a doctor. There are categories of pain and suffering that do not have an actual cost, such as mental or emotional conditions like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or depression.
Pain and suffering can also be a part of how your life changes after an accident. If you can no longer carry out your daily activities, like caring for your family or working, the anxiety and embarrassment you feel due to your inabilities is part of your pain and suffering.
Watch Paul D'Amore, founder of D'Amore Personal Injury Law, guide you on how to find the best personal injury lawyer.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
Our society places great value on personal strength and responsibility, so we tend to disregard chronic pain or emotional disability. It is also difficult to analyze pain, both physical and emotional, because it is so subjective. One person can soldier through a broken leg, but the death of their cat could leave them emotionally destroyed. Another person could come to work seemingly unmoved after the death of a family member.
Even though it is difficult to prove, you still have a right to just compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured due to an accident. Insurance companies in Maryland tend to value your pain and suffering on the basis of the lost wages and medical bills you have incurred due to your accident. The insurance companies will usually take the total of those losses and multiply them by 1.5x. So, if you can prove you lost $5,000 in wages, and have $5,000 in medical bills, the insurance company will likely value your case at $15,000 for settlement. Calculate the total of those losses (worth at least 1.5 times the value of your physical injury).
This is where it is critical to have an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer knows that using a “multiplier” to value your pain and suffering is not just or fair. It favors the insurance companies because it lumps all cases together, and fails to take into consideration:
The Actual Pain of Your Injury - Everyone experiences pain differently. An experienced personal injury lawyer will learn how your pain affected you, and be able to articulate that to an insurance carrier in a way that will justify a settlement amount that is fair for you.
Chronic Pain - It has taken time for the medical profession to realize that nerve damage can lead to pain and even healed wounds can ache for no reason at all. Experienced personal injury lawyers know this, and are able to retain and work with medical experts who can evaluate your chronic pain, prove its existence and justify added damages to compensate you for it.
Emotional or Mental Trauma - Post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental pain are just as real as physical injuries, and need treatment as much as any other long-term pain. Proof of these conditions can include treatment from professionals, statements from other family members, and your own statement.
Quality of Life - If the pain or anxiety of your injury has changed your regular routine, you deserve compensation for that injury. If you cannot work as many hours, care for yourself or your family, or need assistance for your personal care, that should be part of your compensation.
You should also be aware that Maryland law places a limit on personal injury recovery for pain and suffering. This limit is increased annually, and is currently $830,000. Therefore, no matter how much pain and suffering you can prove, you can never recover more than this limit. This limit was put in place by insurance company lobbyists in the mid 1980’s. Since then, those lobbyists have been working to further erode injured peoples’ ability to recover just compensation in Maryland. There is nothing your personal injury lawyer can do about this limit. It will take an act of the Maryland legislature to change it. To date, the voters in Maryland have not shown the will to force the legislature to change this law.
What steps do I take to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Because so much of this is subjective and depends on your personal reaction to the injury, the best thing for you to do is keep careful track of how the injury has affected you and your family. Keeping a journal or other record of your daily routine is often a good idea, so that you can show the insurance company and court later how things have changed for you.
Having statements from your family and friends is also helpful. They should be able to explain the impact of your injury on your life. If they can make comparisons between how you behaved before the injury and how the injury has changed you, this is the type of statement you need.
Remember to be truthful and specific. People tend to generalize and minimize. Don’t say things like, “I can’t sleep,” which is unhelpful in assessing your degree of pain and suffering. The court needs a statement like, “The pain in my back keeps me from finding a comfortable position in bed, so I can only get two or three hours of sleep per night.” If your anxiety keeps you from driving, explain how you are unable to sit behind the wheel of your car without replaying the accident in your mind.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Pain and suffering is difficult to assess, and insurance companies would prefer to limit their payouts. You should contact a personal injury lawyer right away if you have been involved in an accident and it has caused lasting physical or mental pain and suffering. You want an experienced personal injury attorney at your side to help you maximize your chances for fair compensation.
D’Amore Personal Injury Law is a personal injury law firm with years of experience and a track record for obtaining life changing compensation for our clients. We bring knowledge, skills, and the resources you need to fight and win your case. If you are looking for a “personal injury lawyer near me”, please connect with our firm. The consultation is free, and we can get started on your case so you can get the compensation you deserve.