After an accident, it may be relatively simple to determine the financial damage to a vehicle, figure the dollar amount of medical expenses and add up the total of lost wages. However, insurance companies, judges and juries sometimes also include pain and suffering damages in the settlement or judgment.
Pain and suffering seem subjective, so how do they arrive at an amount?
According to FindLaw, they may add up the actual damages and multiply that by a number that indicates how seriously the pain and suffering have affected the injured person’s life. The multiplier generally will be between 1.5 and 5, although catastrophic injuries may rate a 6 or 7. The negligence or percentage of fault of the person who caused the injury and the length of the recovery may affect how high the multiplier may be.
Findlaw notes that the injured person may be able to help quantify the amount of pain and suffering damages by providing information about the injury itself. These may include:
- How much, if any, of the injury is visible
- How much physical pain the injury caused at the time it occurred
- How much it caused during recovery
- How much of the pain is ongoing or expected to be long-term
Mental anguish such as anxiety, depression, fear, sadness, embarrassment and anger may also be factors in rating the pain of injury.
The effects of the injury
The injury may cause pain and suffering through its effect on a person’s life, as well. A person may have to abandon a promising future, or may no longer be able to participate in a hobby, social activities or household chores. If a person is no longer able to perform daily activities and must have someone else become a caregiver, that may also be a significant factor.