Being involved in a serious car accident or other injury can cause devastating physical injuries to your body. You may suffer from a brain injury that makes it difficult or impossible to perform daily tasks, lose mobility or use of a body part, or spend months out of work in rehabilitation. In addition to these physical injuries are the untold amounts of psychological distress that you and your family may experience. This can range from experiencing nightmares or flashbacks to developing mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. As an injury victim, you must learn how to live with the ongoing daily toll of the anger and sadness that your new life brings. Part of the claim for full and fair compensation that your injury attorney will be pursuing on your behalf is for that pain, the physical manifestation of your injury, and suffering, the mental or psychological effects caused by that physical injury and the impact it has upon you.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
There are two components to damages from a severe accident: economic and non-economic costs. Economic costs are the harms and losses including medical bills, prescription medicine costs, physical therapy, rehabilitation costs, costs for medical supplies, modifications to your home, nursing costs, etc., as well as lost wages or income, both in the past and in the future. Non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and all of the other intangibles that the accident has caused in your life. These lost experiences, missed memories, and daily struggles are truly what make your claim personal, as everyone experiences them differently.
Non-economic costs don’t come with a specific price tag like medical bills. They are much more difficult to determine and cannot truly be calculated. Some methods, such as the multiplier method or multiplying the medical bills by 3, while widely used, are better served as predicators than true indicators of pain and suffering damages. Many insurance companies simply plug a few case-specific facts into a computer program, like the type of injury, the age and sex of the victim and the amount of medical bills and have a number for pain and suffering automatically generated.
This removes the human element from these non-economic damages. A good personal injury attorney will use the above factors to guide his assessment of the value of pain and suffering losses. However, the attorney also must spend time with the client, in their home, truly learning your story. Your attorney may ask for pictures from family vacations, gym records or descriptions of hobbies that you once enjoyed showing your loss of enjoyment of life. He must speak with close friends and family, employers and coworkers, to be able to effectively evaluate and present the non-economic claim to a jury. We call these people before and after witnesses, because they are the best people to explain to a jury how you were before your injury versus how you are now. Uncovering real life examples of how this injury impacted your life from those closest to you is often the best way to determine pain and suffering damages. Your attorney will analyze the facts of your case, the information he gathers from you and your before and after witnesses and filter it through the lens of his experience in handling similar cases to calculate these non-economic damages. One of the most effective tools and resources in determining the potential value of your pain and suffering claim is to conduct a focus group or mock trial. Giving real people the facts and letting them make a confidential and non-binding decision is often the best way to evaluate the value of these harms and losses.
The more you can show or tell a defense attorney, insurance adjuster or jury about how an injury has affected your life, the more potential value that claim may have. That said, there should be some correlation or connection of the physical injury to the emotional one. Juries may have a difficult time awarding significant pain and suffering damages when they feel that the physical injury was minor or that the injury victim made a good physical recovery.
Entitlement to Pain and Suffering Damages
Under Florida law, you will need to prove that you have significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, permanent injury, and/or significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement in order to prevail on a claim for pain and suffering . Simply put, without an objective medical diagnosis from a medical doctor, something beyond bumps, bruises, sprains and strains, pain and suffering damages will not be awarded. You can prove this through the use of medical and psychological health records or testimony from doctors and mental health professionals. Once that burden is met, the jury is able to consider the evidence concerning the non-economic damages and determine whether or not to reimburse you for those losses.
Many websites offer online “Pain and Suffering Calculators” to estimate how much you might be able to collect in damages from your injury. However, these are grossly inaccurate and inherently flawed. Each case is different and decided individually on its own merits. To determine what your case is worth, contact Cutler Rader for a free consultation today.
Cutler Rader, P.L.
With over 75 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Cutler Rader understand the meaning of Justice. Our one and only mission is to get each client the justice he or she deserves; our team of attorneys never back down when we know our client is right.
We offer our clients the compassion and guidance they need as they work through trying times in their lives. The balance of working relentlessly for our clients combined with our caring approach has helped us achieve a fantastic record of success with our clients. We get our clients the justice they deserve.
At Cutler Rader, You matter. Your justice matters. Your Justice Starts Here. 954-913-2273.
The Florida Senate. Chapter 627 Section 737 – 2021 Florida Statutes (flsenate.gov). Accessed July 31, 2022.