If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the negligence of others, you would usually consider hiring personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia to help you get compensation for damages. To do this you’ll need to file a third-party claim against the negligent party’s insurance company. And perhaps most importantly, to actually get compensations, you’ll need to establish that the negligent party is actually liable for your losses as well as provide evidence associated with your losses.
As long as you are able to establish liability on the part of the defendant (negligent party), the insurance company would then compensate for damages. Such compensations could include medical bills, lost wages or some form of cash payments. It’s easier to provide evidence for physical injuries as well as getting a befitting compensation for them. But things may get a little complicated when you’re trying to recover damages for less visible damages like pain and suffering.
WHAT IS PAIN AND SUFFERING
While you can possibly point to a scar or wounds as evidence of physical injuries, pain and suffering encompass not just your physical injuries but emotional and psychological wounds you may sustain as a result of an accident. Examples of what could be legally seen as “pain and suffering” include fear, insomnia, depression, emotional distress and even loss of enjoyment of life.
Since most accidents, whether causing physical injuries or not, will likely leave you with emotional scars or some sort of unfavorable psychological conditions, it means you should be able to recover emotional damages in most accident cases. Depending on the intensity of your suffering, it could be a rather small amount and in some cases, it could be quite large.
However, there’s really no fixed magical method to determine the intensity of your “pain and suffering”. This could bring problems, as there might be a little debate as to what you would get for nonphysical damage claims.
Nonetheless, it’s not entirely hopeless. Even though there’s no hard and fast rule for calculating the value of pain and suffering claims, there are two methods popular among attorneys. The first method usually involves multiplying the value of your actual damages like medical bills or lost wages with a number, generally between 1 and 5 depending on the severity of the injury.
HOW DO INSURANCE COMPANIES CALCULATE PAIN AND SUFFERING DAMAGES
Let’s say you, unfortunately, broke your arm in an accident and incurred about $4,000 in medical expenses. Since it’s a fairly severe injury, your attorney will likely multiply the actual damages by 3, arriving at $12,000. This is the amount your attorney will present to the defendant’s insurance company which represents reasonable compensation for your pain and suffering.
However, your attorney might choose to use another method. The second popular method is the per day method, called per diem in legalese. In this method, your attorney considers a range of factors and assign a monetary value to be awarded per day of your suffering until you achieve maximum recovery.
In a likely scenario, your attorney might consider the severity of your “emotional distress” or that of the pain from your injuries and assign a monetary value of $100 dollars for each day of being in that condition until you recover. Let’s say your injuries were quite serious and it ends up taking about four months or 120 days for you to reach maximum recovery. Your attorney will likely multiply the number of days with the per day value of $100 arriving at $12,000 in damage claims for pain and suffering.
As interesting as those values may appear, the defendant’s insurance company might take an entirely different approach in calculating the value of pain and suffering claims. Since they are under no legal obligation to use your method, insurance companies may come up with reasonably fair to outrightly outrageous methods. So it might be left to your attorney to debate some sense into them.
Some insurance companies will take into account the type of treatment received for injuries and will consider if the treatment was given by a physician or chiropractor. The will likely consider treatment by physicians as being more serious and compensable than that administered by chiropractors. However, if the company determines that treatment seems too excessive for the type of injuries sustained, the company might exclude some of the cost from the calculation of the value for pain and suffering claims.
Insurance companies will also take into consideration the duration of treatment. If the plaintiff’s unique case required a longer treatment duration, it’s usually an indicator of more serious injuries requiring more value in compensation.
Some insurance companies also use computer programs to calculate pain and suffering claims based on the plaintiff’s (injured party) unique case. These programs may be more wide-reaching, taking into consideration a greater number of variables while determining the plaintiff’s worth in compensation claims.
But since the insurance company has the leeway of using their own methods, how do you know what’s fair?
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S FAIR
Proving you have had emotional suffering is hard enough, but knowing what’s fair in something that cannot exactly be calibrated could even be much harder. To know what’s fair, it’s usually important to run whatever value the insurance company throws at you against the two popular methods of determining pain and suffering.
Let’s say the insurance company throws $8,000 at you. Using the per diem method, you could assign an amount you consider “reasonably fair” without any bias whatsoever to a day’s suffering you experience. From whatever value you get, check for circumstances that may significantly increase or reduce the value of the claims.
As a runway model for instance, if the injury left you with permanent scars on your face, it is definitely reasonable to bump up the value by a reasonable amount. The rationale here is that; apart from losing your job due to the scars, the emotional distress of leaving with such a scar could be quite intense.
But on the other hand, if the emotional pains you sustained were mild and only lasted for a while, it might be reasonable to go easy on the values. Compare whatever amount you arrive at with what the insurance company is offering, if it’s reasonably close, your likely getting fair compensation. However, if it’s way lower, and you’re sure you got the numbers right, it may be a sign that the insurance company is offering unfair compensation.