A frequently asked question: How do you calculate pain and suffering?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Pain, suffering and inconvenience are 3 separate concepts, yet related.
No clear system
There is no way to develop a clear system for calculating pain and suffering in an accident. There are countless books on the subject. Experienced attorneys’ opinions differ. Professors and academics debate it. Two different juries presented with the exact same information disagree with each other.
Throw in how every case is different, how every client is different, how every injury is different and how everyone recovers differently, and you can see what a mess it is to figure this all out.
At the end of the day, we have to figure out how much money to pay someone for their injuries, and this amount must somehow relate to the amount of pain, suffering and inconvenience the victim suffered, and will suffer in the future.
How do you prove pain and suffering?
This pain and suffering must be proven by medical records, showing what treatment you had to endure. Doctors and experts will fight about whether your treatment was necessary. Your friends, family and co-workers need to tell the jury how they witnessed your life being changed because of the injuries.
An experienced personal injury and accident attorney will be able to analyze all of this and give you his or her best estimate on how much pain and suffering should be/will be awarded. The attorney will draw on their experience and research to form a reasonable estimate. Even then, the estimate might be completely inaccurate. Attorneys disagree all the time on case value, and the amount of pain and suffering compensation.
Some lazy (or uninformed) attorneys will tell you to multiply your medical bills by 1-3 and that is your pain and suffering. For example, if you went to a chiropractor and your medical bills total $3,000. This method says your pain and suffering will be $3,000 – $9,000.
This calculation is lazy and dangerous. Pain and suffering cannot be determined by a calculator. So many factors go into how your life is changed because of your injuries. A calculator cannot capture this human element.
Tell your story
To calculate pain and suffering we need to capture and tell your story. Humanize the effects of the injury. Present it in a way the jury will be able to understand and visualize the injuries and its effects. Then you will get a true understanding of the pain and suffering.