Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering After my Injury Accident?

A car runs a red light while you’re making a left-hand turn and t-bones you. You know that the driver has a responsibility to pay for your car, which was totaled in the accident, and for the medical bills for your injuries. But you’ve also heard of something called “pain and suffering.” Are you eligible for this benefit as well?

What Is “Pain and Suffering” Compensation?

“Pain and suffering” is a legal phrase relating to any significant physical pain or emotional distress that results from an injury accident. If the accident did not occur, you would not have to deal with these effects.

Physical pain:

Most accidents result in some kind of physical pain. Sometimes it clears up quickly, and sometimes it lingers for years or a lifetime, significantly affecting your quality of life. What kind of pain is eligible for pain and suffering compensation? Examples include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Head pain from traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Damaged nerves
  • Damaged internal organs
  • Pulled muscles
  • Paralysis

Emotional pain:

The phrase “pain and suffering” also includes emotional and psychological anguish. For example, if the car accident mentioned above was so traumatic that you have nightmares and are unable to drive without extreme fear, you may be eligible for pain and suffering compensation. Examples of emotional pain include:

  • Fear/anxiety
  • Psychological trauma
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Depression

What If You Weren’t Injured but Lost a Loved One?

Even if you were not involved in an accident, you may feel deep emotional loss due to an accident that took the life of your loved one. In these cases, you may be able to file for pain and suffering as part of a wrongful death lawsuit.

The legal term for losing the companionship of a loved one is “loss of consortium.” This falls under pain and suffering and can come in different forms. You may lose the companionship and intimacy of your spousal relationship, or a child may lose the care of a loving and attentive parent. A wrongful death lawyer can help you build a strong case for loss of consortium.

How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth?

There’s no set formula for putting a price on your pain and suffering. Rather, the unique circumstances of each case will be considered. Factors may include:

  • How negligent was the defendant? In the case of a car accident, this can be influenced by how fast the driver was going, if they attempted to brake, or if they were texting while driving or driving under the influence.
  • How badly were you injured?
  • How significantly did the injuries affect your quality of life?
  • How much have you suffered so far? How much will you suffer in the future (based on how long it may take the injuries to heal)?
  • How much medical care have you received? How much will you need to receive in the future?

While these and other questions are weighed on a case-by-case basis to determine the amount of pain and suffering compensation, there are a couple of different formulas for weighing these factors and coming up with a specific reward.

Multiplier Method. With this method, you add the easy-to-calculate monetary damages from the case (including medical bills, property damages, lost work wages) and multiply the total by a rating of the severity of your injury (usually between 1.5 and 5).

The monetary damages are usually straightforward; the multiplier is the sticking point. The opposing insurance company will undoubtedly try to lowball you, so you will need to advocate for a higher number.

Per Diem Method. Per diem means “by the day.” With a per diem calculation, you will come up with a certain dollar amount that the defendant will need to pay you for each day of living with the pain and suffering. This must be paid through the date of maximum medical improvement (the point when your injuries are healed or when your health gets as good as it is going to get, as determined by a medical professional).

The per diem method can get tricky when it comes to long-term injuries as there’s no way of knowing how they might improve or worsen over time. In these cases, a skilled personal injury attorney can draw on similar legal cases as precedent.

Should I Settle or Go to Trial?

The majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, which is certainly easier, faster, and cheaper (in terms of legal fees) than going to trial. However, if you cannot reach a satisfactory settlement, it may be worth going to trial. You can read more about the pros and cons of settlement vs. trial here. You should also talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to get an honest assessment of your chances of winning the trial.

Seek Help from a Utah Personal Injury Lawyer for the Pain and Suffering Compensation You Deserve

At the end of the day, the quality of your case is going to determine whether or not you receive pain and suffering damages–and how much you receive. Big Insurance is eager to discredit you and downplay your pain and suffering. A good attorney will know what evidence to gather and how to present it so that you have a compelling, airtight case. They will help you get the maximum reward for your pain and suffering.