If you incurred injuries from an accident that was the result of another party’s negligence, you might face economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and more. These damages can be easy to determine by simply looking at your pharmacy and doctor’s office receipts and calculating how much money you’ve lost by not working.
Non-economic damages, however, are more difficult to put a value on, as there are no hard numbers involved. One non-economic damage with a value that is particularly challenging to determine is pain and suffering. This is the physical and mental pain associated with your injury, and it often includes discomfort, aches, and other pain that you suffer due to the accident.
If you’re concerned about calculating pain and suffering in your Fort Lauderdale personal injury case, reach out to David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. for help. Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers also handle personal injury cases in Boca Raton and throughout South Florida. Call (954) 751-4258 to schedule a free initial review of your case.
Factors Considered When Determining the Value of Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are not injuries you can hold up and show to a jury. Instead, they have to be described and explained. These are very subjective experiences, and our Florida personal injury attorneys have to present evidence of your pain and suffering and get the jury to empathize with your experiences. As such, numerous possible factors might be considered when a jury assesses damages for pain and suffering. The most common factors that are considered when pain and suffering damages are calculated include the following:
Is your injury a minor cut that you can recover from quickly, or a traumatic brain injury that will require lifelong care and rehabilitation? The more severe your injury is, the more pain and suffering compensation you’re likely to receive.
Required Medical Treatment
While some injuries are treated with pain medication and rest, others involve surgeries, assistive devices, and even home modifications. The more intense and costly your treatment plan is, the higher the value of your claim could be.
Will you recover from your injury in a few weeks or months? Or will it take several months or years for you to heal completely? A longer recovery period often leads to greater compensation for pain and suffering.
Impact of the Injury on Your Life
If your injury leaves you with a disability and takes a serious toll on the rest of your life, you’re likely to receive more pain and suffering compensation than a victim whose injuries will allow them to return to their pre-accident condition right away.
What Pain and Suffering Might Look Like in a Florida Injury Case
To understand how pain and suffering are calculated, it is important to understand what these damages often look like. In short, pain and suffering are not visible injuries but are experiences felt by the plaintiff. While some instances of pain and suffering are more obvious because they naturally flow from the injuries, other instances might be less clear. Our Miami Gardens personal injury lawyers can help you figure out the best way to demonstrate your pain and suffering to a jury to maximize compensation.
In many injury cases, pain and suffering stem from physical injuries. For example, physical injuries come with physical pain you can sue for. Often, physical pain presumed and does not need additional evidence. Jurors often relate to the experience without needing additional proof. However, proving the extent of your pain and how it affected your life is a different story.
The way people handle pain is often unique. While some plaintiffs have a high tolerance for physical pain, others do not. The fact that you experienced pain is only half the equation; we must also demonstrate how your pain affected your daily life. Perhaps the pain prevented you from performing normal daily tasks like cooking, bathing, or walking. With this additional context, a jury has a better idea of just how much pain you endured.
Mental and Emotional
Pain and suffering also contain a mental or emotional component. Even if your bodily injuries are not extremely painful, you might still have experienced emotional suffering that is equally deserving of compensation.
Emotional or mental distress is often very difficult to establish. Not only are these experiences invisible, but they are also very subjective and harder for juries to relate to. It also does not help that mental health issues tend to be stigmatized. Our Hollywood, FL personal injury lawyers can help you prove your emotional and mental suffering to a jury and hopefully increase your compensation.
If you went to a therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional authorized to diagnose you, we can use this information to your benefit. Simply describing your mental distress can be helpful, but an actual diagnosis from a professional can be very powerful evidence. For example, we can present mental health records pertaining to diagnoses like depression, anxiety, panic disorders, PTSD, and other mental conditions you might have experienced because of your accident.
Not every plaintiff gets a diagnosis, but that does not mean your mental distress is not real. Mental distress often presents itself in numerous ways across multiple aspects of your life. We can have people close to you testify about changes in your personality and other ways your mental health has suffered.
Types of Evidence Used to Prove Pain and Suffering
Since Florida views pain and suffering as a general damage claim, you can use evidence to help determine its value. Examples of the types of evidence you may want to collect and show to the liable party’s insurance company include the following:
- Your doctor’s opinion of your injuries and how they will impact the rest of your life
- A prescription history for drugs related to pain, anxiety, and/or depression
- Testimony from your spouse or close family members about how the injury has affected you
- A mental health professional’s opinion of your current state of mind
- Your personal recording of your day-to-day suffering and experiences after the accident
Pain and suffering are subjective experiences that are not always connected to a monetary value, and this makes evaluating them very challenging. As such, it is important that our Florida personal injury lawyers help you gather as much evidence of these damages as we can. If your case lacks evidence of pain and suffering, your claims for damages might be easily refuted, and the jury might not award you the compensation you deserve. Even small pieces of evidence might add up to be very persuasive.
Methods Used to Calculate Pain and Suffering
It’s a good idea to consult a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and help determine the value of your pain and suffering through a logical method. Often, attorneys use the multiplier method to calculate this type of damage. In other cases, damages are calculated per diem or for each day you experience pain and suffering. Our Florida personal injury lawyers can help you calculate your damages so that you hopefully get the maximum compensation possible.
The multiplier method uses a number between 1.5 and 5 that is chosen based on the severity of the injury. Then, the economic or special damages in your case are multiplied by this number to arrive at your general or non-economic damages. For instance, if you have $5,000 in medical bills and the severity of your injury is a 4, your pain and suffering value would be $20,000. If your injuries are less severe, the multiplier will probably be closer to 1.5. If your injuries are more serious, the multiplier might be closer to 5.
Because the multiplier method works by multiplying your special damages by a pre-determined multiplier, we should maximize your special damages calculations. Any medical bills, lost income, damaged property, and other economic losses must be properly accounted for so that no compensation is missed. By making sure your special damages are as high as possible, we can hopefully increase your overall damages for pain and suffering.
Per Diem Method
Another commonly used method is the per diem method, where a certain dollar amount is paid for each day from when an accident occurred until you recover. The exact value we choose to assign each day you experience pain and suffering depends on the unique circumstances of your case. In many cases, people use a number based on their salary. This is more common in people who lost work because of their injuries. If your injuries are severe, a higher number might be warranted. Whatever number we land on, we must be able to justify it.
We must also establish a date for when the per diem method kicks in. Often, people start calculating their damages beginning on the date they were injured. We might also need to consider a possible end date for our calculations. Injuries do not usually heal overnight, and the recovery process tends to be gradual. This makes determining an exact date for the end of pain and suffering very difficult. We can use information from your doctor to determine the approximate date when your injuries were considered fully healed.
Are There Limitations on the Value of Pain and Suffering in Florida?
Florida does not impose statutory limitations on damages for pain and suffering. This means that the potential damages award for pain and suffering might be quite significant if your injuries are severe. This also means that our Coral Springs, FL personal injury lawyers must carefully decide how to calculate pain and suffering so that you get maximum compensation.
Since pain and suffering are not capped by law, they can be as high as necessary. In many cases, damages for pain and suffering are significant, sometimes even greater than special or economic damages. The only cap or limit placed on damages for pain and suffering is the method used to calculate these damages.
Under certain circumstances, non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, were capped by statute in Florida. The statutes limited the compensation a plaintiff could recover for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. In 2017, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan that statutory caps on non-economic damages violate the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution. Now, damages for pain and suffering are not capped in many injury lawsuits, including medical malpractice.
Do You Have Questions About Calculating Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering can be tricky to calculate, so it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. At the David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A., our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys will work with you to evaluate your case, so you receive the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free evaluation of your case, call (954) 751-4258.