The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, in 2018, there were 97.9 million emergency room visits for accidental and unintentional injuries nationwide.
Being in an accident can turn your life upside down. Once the dust settles, you likely just want everything to go back to normal. The accident wasn’t your fault, and you deserve compensation for what you’ve been through. In this post, we’ll talk about calculating pain and suffering in Texas personal injury cases.
What Are Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a subtype of non-economic damages awarded in Texas personal injury cases. Unlike economic or special damages, which are tangible, pain and suffering represent intangible losses. Damages for pain and suffering serve the purpose of compensating personal injury victims, to the extent possible, for the human cost that their injury has on their lives.
Pain and suffering include compensation for:
- The victim’s mental anguish and grief because of the accident;
- The physical pain suffered while recovering from the accident;
- The loss of enjoyment of life;
- The loss of one’s quality of life;
- The embarrassment and shame associated with the injury;
- The loss of relationship or consortium;
- The emotional and psychological trauma after the accident; and
- The victim’s inability to participate in or enjoy hobbies or recreational activities.
The human cost of an accident and injury does not have any receipts, in and of itself, but the effects are very real. Damages for pain and suffering function to ease the intangible burden of the accident.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
When calculating pain and suffering in Texas settlement negotiations, there are a couple of different methods attorneys and insurance companies use. These methods include:
- The multiplier method;
- The per diem method;
- The use of settlement calculator programs.
Below, we’ll talk more about the methods used when calculating pain and suffering.
The multiplier method of calculating pain and suffering multiplies the amount of economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 5. A low multiplier corresponds to a smaller amount of pain and suffering. A high multiplier, like 5, typically corresponds to severe injuries or accidents. For example, if the accident broke both of Polly’s arms, which each required surgeries, she may receive a multiplier of 2.5 or 3. If the surgeries were unsuccessful, a higher multiplier may be appropriate to account for this.
In settlement negotiations, the parties will likely argue over the multiplier that applies to the case. Having a knowledgeable lawyer to represent you in this process may increase your chances of receiving a higher multiplier.
Per Diem Method
Calculating pain and suffering damages using the per diem method requires multiplying the number of days that the victim suffered by the average, pre-injury daily earnings of the victim. For example, if Victoria makes $100 a day and the injury put her in the hospital for 100 days, then her per diem pain and suffering damages equal $10,000.
This way of calculating pain and suffering uses a more or less objective formula. In other words, the daily wages lost are quantifiable, and the parties can use the actual and anticipated time off work in the calculation. A positive byproduct of this objective method is that it may be easier to reach a settlement amount.
The downside is that this method does not necessarily factor in all residual costs of an injury. For example, even if Victoria returns to work, whether, on full or light duty, she still may not be able to do things she enjoys on her days off.
Settlement Calculator Programs
Insurance companies and attorneys also use settlement calculator programs to determine the range of damages. Utilizing an algorithm, these programs use artificial intelligence to value a plaintiff’s damages, including pain and suffering. The result of the settlement program’s calculations is often a starting point. From there, the parties can continue negotiations.
What Factors Impact the Amount of Damages I Might Receive for Pain and Suffering?
With those methods of calculating pain and suffering in a settlement in mind, what factors can increase or decrease the amount of pain and suffering the plaintiff receives?
Factors impacting the amount of damages you might receive for pain and suffering include:
- Evidence of the injury (such as scans);
- Measurable impact of the injury on your daily life;
- Your chances of fully recovering from the injury;
- Your compliance level with the recommendations of doctors; and
- Whether you sought medical attention immediately after the accident.
Knowledgeable legal professionals, such as those at the Hartley Law Firm, can help you gather the evidence that you need to get your maximum recovery.
What Can I Do to Increase the Amount I Receive for Pain and Suffering in Settlement Negotiations?
After an injury and all that comes with it, you probably want to maximize your recovery and move forward with your life. There are some things that you can do to help your chances of receiving a higher pain and suffering settlement amount.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
Seeking medical attention shortly after the accident ensures that you receive the medical services you need to get you back on your feet. Further, this initial doctor’s visit lays the foundation for the personal injury claim.
If you’re arguing that the at-fault party caused your severe injuries, yet you didn’t immediately seek medical attention, this can create a gap in your narrative. You may still receive pain and suffering damages in that scenario. However, it might be an uphill battle for you. A Texas personal injury attorney can help you navigate your claim.
Follow All Doctor’s Recommendations
You can help your case by showing that, despite your best efforts, your injury causes you difficulties. To accomplish this, follow all doctor’s recommendations, including keeping appointments and taking prescribed medications. The opposing party will look for gaps and inconsistencies in your story to limit their liability. In response, you can show that you followed the treatment recommendations and protocols of the doctors.
Hire a Knowledgeable, Skillful Texas Personal Injury Lawyer
Having a Texas personal injury lawyer at the settlement negotiations increases your chances of receiving a higher pain and suffering award. Insurance companies are more likely to take your claim seriously if you have a lawyer. Likewise, if you have an attorney on your side, insurance companies are less likely to engage in tactics to strong-arm you into accepting a low offer. Further, a personal injury lawyer can help you uncover the evidence you need to prove the full extent of your injuries.
The Hartley Law Firm Can Help You Receive the Maximum Pain and Suffering Amount
Hartley Law Firm helps clients like you by calculating pain and suffering to reflect the entire picture. We understand that you have gone through a lot and that you just want to focus on getting better. You can rest easy with Hartley Law Firm because our aggressive representation is what you need to fight against the insurance company’s schemes to save money. Any settlement amount we recommend is one we’ve thoroughly reviewed and believe in. Contact us today.