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Pain Suffering Calculation Permanent Injury Injury Law
The injuries I suffered from a car accident, I’m told by the doctor, will be permanent, and I will be in increasing pain for the rest of my life. How do you quantify – put a figure on – that long-term pain and suffering?
Unfortunately, there is no scientific way to determine how much pain and suffering is worth. Neither is it total guesswork, however. Your attorney will compare your injury claim to other claims that are similar. Attorneys and insurance companies often consult legal publications that report the results of other cases that have gone to trial. This, in combination with many other factors, helps to determine the value of your pain and suffering.
Suppose, for example, that a similar case to yours appeared in “Jury Verdicts Weekly”. The injury resulted in permanent disability. The accident victim will be taking pain medicine for the rest of his life. Besides his $58, 000 in economic damages, he was awarded $200,000 for pain and suffering. He’s a man in his early 60s and was a retired carpenter’s assistant.
Your attorney might use that case to compare to and contrast from yours. Assume you were also retired. One factor that might tip the scale in one direction or the other could be what you were doing in your retirement. Volunteer work that you can no longer do? Horseback riding every weekend? Gardening around the yard? Can you still do work around the house? Can you play with your grandchildren like you used to? Another factor might be whether or not your pain is controlled by medication or exercise. Your life has been negatively affected by this accident; your attorney’s job is to paint the picture of how your life has changed, telling a convincing story about the pain and suffering you will have to endure.
Additional considered would be the amount of your medical bills, length of treatment, need for future treatment, loss of career or job, future economic losses, where you live, life expectancy, etc. Below is another example with a 67-year-old man we’ll call Sam, who was an avid golfer and tennis player prior to his accident, which caused permanent disability. His life expectancy according to appropriate tables is 83 years. His pain is difficult to control because he’s allergic to many pain medicines. Here are some possible figures:
Sam’s Economic Losses
Medical Bills to date: $19,500
Future Medical Bills (estimate): $80,000
Other economic losses–
Tennis club fees (unused membership): $200
Transportation to and from dr.: $1,600
Prescription medications: $2,500
Future prescription medications (estimate): $40,000
Future over-the-counter medications (estimate): $1,870
Wheelchair rental: $4,800
Medical supplies: $1,800
Total economic losses: $152,370
Sam is older than the carpenter’s assistant mentioned above, so he probably won’t live as long. His economic losses, however, are substantially higher. Sam will continue to be in pain for the rest of his life. He lives in Chicago. Knowing what we know without any further information, Sam’s case would likely be valued with the following amount for pain and suffering in addition to economic damages:
$300,000 – $450,000
Why so much higher than the carpenter’s assistant? The economic losses are much higher including a large amount for future treatment. And Sam can’t take pain medicine, so his pain is likely to be much greater.
Other factors would determine at which end of the range this case would fall, such as Sam’s credibility as a witness, his attorney’s skill at arguing his case, his need for future medical care, and other ways his life has been negatively affected. Again, this is based on limited facts and is an example of a calculation of damages for pain and suffering based on fictitious facts and figures. Your individual case may vary from this substantially. If you live in Lincoln, Nebraska, the amount would be significantly lower. If you live in New York City, it could be higher, possibly much higher. In addition, some states have put a cap on non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) and the amount would be limited. For information on how to value your specific claim, and to find out if your state has a limit on damages for pain and suffering, contact a personal injury attorney in your area.
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