Pain and Suffering: Calculating the Intangible

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Einstein’s theory of relativity has nothing on the complexity of calculating pain and suffering. How do you put a price on how a person feels? You can’t. Pain and Suffering is one of the most commonly misunderstood terms in law, because it’s not based on how you feel – at least, not entirely.

For legal purposes, the words “pain and suffering” mean physical and emotional damage, as well as discomfort caused by medical treatment of the injuries (surgery, physical therapy, etc.), limitations on daily activities, depression, scarring and disfigurement, and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the accident. But judges, lawyers, and adjusters can’t base the amount of monetary compensation on how you say you feel. Instead, they look at:

  • The severity of your injuries.
  • When you reported injuries to your doctor.
  • The tests and treatment you received.
  • Whether the medical treatment you received was reasonable for the types of injuries you have.
  • The pain associated with the medical treatment (ie. surgery is painful).
  • Whether you’ve followed your doctor’s orders (for health and legal reasons, always do as your doctor says!).
  • The types of medications that were prescribed to you.
  • Whether you had pre-existing injuries or conditions at the time of the accident.
  • Whether you have a history of filing personal injury claims.
  • Your sex, age, marital status and occupation.
  • The likelihood of a full recovery, or whether your injuries will affect you for years to come.
  • The impact the injuries have had on your home life and work.
  • Your level of pain tolerance.
  • Whether your actions are consistent with your reported injuries.

That last criterion is the one that gets the most press, and it’s a reality that insurance companies have been known to hire private investigators to check if you are living your life like an injured person, or whether you are carrying heavy grocery bags from your car to your home with a spring in your step. While you should never exaggerate your injuries – and definitely don’t walk around with a neck brace unless your doctor says you need it – you should take care to not push yourself before you are completely healed.

While those are the factors that influence the amount you’ll receive for pain and suffering, calculating the amount is not an exact science. The amount is usually discussed as a range i.e. 30-40 thousand dollars instead of an exact number.

That amount is decided based on the circumstances of your case. If you’ve had horrible injuries requiring surgery, the amount will be on the higher end. Also, if there were aggravating circumstances, like drunk driving, the amount will be even higher. If you suffered some whiplash, moderate medical bills, and no loss of wages, your amount will be less. However, there are so many factors to this decision-making process that it’s impossible to make a prediction for how much money to expect.

We understand that pain, suffering, inconvenience, lost wages, and the time spent dealing with insurance companies cannot be repaired, or replaced. But, having a knowledgeable advocate on your side through this process may help you get the most possible compensation and protect you from further financial injury.

If you have a case where you feel that you, a family member or friend, have been harmed due to the negligence of another driver, please call Christopher Ligori & Associates at 877 444 2929 or call us on one of our local numbers for a for a free consultation.

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