So, you’ve been injured because of someone’s negligence, you’ve accumulated medical bills, and lost wages because you’ve missed work. You have recently put in a claim with the negligent person’s insurance company seeking financial compensation for your out-of-pocket medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. The medical bills and lost wages are relatively easy to calculate. You can obtain copies of the medical bills from the hospitals and doctors that provided treatment and add them up. Similarly, lost wages can be calculated using the rate of pay and hours, days or weeks of work missed due to the injury. Determining an amount for pain and suffering is much different. This is because there is no mathematical formula to use in order to calculate what someone’s pain and suffering is worth.
The term “pain and suffering” is commonly associated with personal injury cases. Pain and suffering consequently happen after a car accident or a slip and fall that resulted in an injury. In fact, pain and suffering are key components when determining a fair and reasonable amount to compensate an accident victim for the damages sustained.
From a legal perspective, there are two types of pain and suffering: mental and physical.
- Mental pain and suffering refers to mental injuries the victim sustained because of the accident. Mental pain and suffering includes injuries like mental anguish, emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, fear, anger, and humiliation. Sometimes these symptoms result from a traumatic brain injury or post concussion syndrome. In other cases an injury that results in scarring can cause severe mental anguish. Mental pain and suffering is any kind of negative emotion that is caused by the accident and/or injury. The negative emotions could also stem from the physical pain and suffering, as well.
- Physical pain and suffering are the actual injuries the victim sustained. Physical injuries, such as back injuries, knee injuries, broken bones, shoulder pain, eye injuries, can have a significant impact on a person’s pain and suffering. When determining an amount of compensation for physical pain and suffering, the injury lawyer and insurance company will also consider the future suffering the victim may continue to sustain.
It can be difficult to put a dollar amount on the pain and suffering an individual sustains. Some insurance companies use weeks of treatment to arrive at a number for pain and suffering. This means that they will take the total weeks the accident victim treated and offer to compensate them for a certain dollar amount for each week. The dollar amount per week is almost always hotly debated. If the injury wasn’t too severe the dollar amount will be less than a case where an accident victim’s injuries are debilitating. For example, if a person suffers a back strain in a rear end collision and completes 8 weeks of physical therapy, an insurance company will estimate a much lesser amount for pain and suffering than someone, who suffers a broken leg in a car accident that requires open reduction internal fixation (surgery) and then undergoes 40 weeks of treatment.
Now, just because we provide an example of how some insurance companies might try to estimate an amount for pain and suffering doesn’t mean you have to agree with it or accept it. The amount of damages you seek for pain and suffering is subjective. Only you (the injured person) knows what the pain and suffering was like from an injury. This is why it is a good idea to take notes of your day-to-day or week-to-week activities during your treatment. These notes should include how your injuries have affected your life, what you cannot do and have trouble doing, and how the injuries may have changed the way you live. These notes will provide information needed to negotiate a greater amount for pain and suffering than the insurance companies may estimate.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help an accident victim get the compensation they deserve for an injury. Pain and suffering is sometimes a large portion of the amount sought for compensation. This is why it is always recommended to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney after an accident.
If you have been injured in an accident in Massachusetts and you are wondering what and how much you are entitled to, feel free to call us at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online. We will answer your questions and evaluate your case for free.