There are many reasons why it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s actions or negligence. Getting the full compensation you deserve is one of the more significant.
For instance, if you try to pursue compensation solely by working through insurance providers, you might only receive enough money to cover any bills and related expenses you incurred as a result of your injury. However, your medical bills are not the only consequence you may struggle with after being injured. You might also experience other hardships for which you deserve compensation. Even when insurance providers offer compensation for such hardships, the amount they offer tends to be fairly low.
Perhaps your injury prevents you from participating in an activity you once enjoyed. Maybe you’ve developed new anxiety in certain situations or locations after an accident. These are examples of pain and suffering, difficulties for which you should also be compensated. Florida law allows plaintiffs in personal injury cases to seek compensation for such non-economic consequences. According to the official Florida Standard Jury Instructions, plaintiffs can specifically request that a jury offer compensation for:
“Any bodily injury sustained by (name) and any resulting pain and suffering [disability or physical impairment] [disfigurement] [mental anguish] [inconvenience] [or] [loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life] experienced in the past [or to be experienced in the future].”
A personal injury attorney can help you pursue pain and suffering damages.
How Attorneys Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
Attorneys use certain methods to calculate what their clients deserve in pain and suffering lawsuits. Here’s how it’s done.
Start with Documentation
Again, the Florida Standard Jury Instructions explicitly make clear that juries can award you damages for non-economic consequences of your injury in a personal injury case. However, the instructions also state that “There is no exact standard for measuring such damage. The amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.”
That can sound vague if you don’t have experience seeking compensation in pain and suffering lawsuits. Luckily, a qualified Florida personal injury attorney can calculate how much your pain and suffering is worth.
That said, they’ll be more likely to establish that you’re entitled to a certain amount of compensation if you document your pain and suffering properly. Your attorney needs to be able to prove to a jury, judge, and the defendant’s attorney (and potentially their insurance provider) that you truly experienced the pain and suffering you described.
This might seem difficult when pain and suffering are relatively intangible. For example, you might pursue pain and suffering damages for:
- physical pain,
- mental anguish,
- physical impairment,
- loss of companionship,
- losing the ability to work in your chosen career, or
- lower quality of life
While proving you deserve compensation for a medical bill is as simple as providing the necessary documentation, you might assume that documenting these less concrete issues is much more challenging.
That’s an understandable assumption. Fortunately, there are many ways you can prove you’ve experienced pain and suffering for which you deserve to be compensated. If you’ve developed mental health issues as a result of an injury, a qualified mental health professional may provide a written statement confirming their opinion.
A physician can offer documentation if you struggle with physical pain after being injured. Additionally, if you’ve treated your mental health or pain problems with medications, you can include documentation of this as well. There are also instances when your attorney may coordinate with another qualified professional whose opinion may be valuable in your specific pain and suffering lawsuit case.
Keep in mind that some personal injury attorneys also request their clients (and, sometimes, their clients’ families) to offer written or oral testimony describing the nature of their pain and suffering. This helps to offer a jury more perspective on your condition and experiences.
This is another reason to coordinate with a personal injury attorney when pursuing compensation. They’ll help you document your pain and suffering appropriately. Once you have all the necessary documentation, they can also begin the process of determining how much your pain and suffering is worth.
Pain and Suffering Calculators
Florida personal injury attorneys typically rely on two key methods when calculating pain and suffering damages. One is known as the multiplier method.
The multiplier method involves first calculating the cost of your “special damages.” Special damages are consequences of your injury that have clear and specific financial values. Your medical bills would be an obvious example, as would your lost wages. However, if you also lost certain irreplaceable items as a result of your injury, the cost of those items might also be included in your special damages.
Coordinating with an insurance provider or the defendant’s attorney (or both), your attorney will then assess the severity of your injury on a scale of 1.5 to 5. When all parties agree on a number, they’ll multiply the cost of your special damages by that number. The result is the worth of your pain and suffering damages. This gets added to the earlier total.
For example, maybe the cost of your special damages amounts to $5,000. If your injury wasn’t particularly severe, you might multiply this by two. Your pain and suffering would thus be worth $10,000. That would make the total worth of your damages $15,000.
Per Diem Method
That’s one example of a common pain and suffering calculator used in Florida pain and suffering lawsuits. That said, sometimes attorneys choose the “per diem” method instead. This involves deciding on a daily rate for your pain and suffering. Your total pain and suffering damages would be that rate multiplied by the number of days you had to live with your pain and suffering.
For example, maybe your daily rate is set at $150 because that’s relatively close to what you would earn at your job. Maybe for three months after you were injured, you lived with pain and needed to take pills to treat it. If your pain ended after three months, your daily rate would be multiplied by about 120 days, resulting in $18,000.
It’s important to understand that attorneys and others involved in a pain and suffering lawsuit will determine which pain and suffering calculator to use based on key factors. For instance, deciding on a fair rate for the per diem method can be very difficult in some cases. This is particularly true when an injury results in long-term or permanent difficulties. You may not reasonably require that a defendant in a personal injury case pay you a daily rate indefinitely.
That’s why attorneys often refer to similar pain and suffering settlement examples when determining how much your pain and suffering is worth. This is yet another reason you need to work with an attorney when pursuing compensation. In many jurisdictions, attorneys often have access to otherwise secret information about past verdicts. They can use this information from pain and suffering settlement examples to establish why your pain and suffering is worth a specific amount of money.
In some cases (often with the help of focus groups), attorneys will also think of your pain and suffering as if it were a job. Maybe your injury forced you to remain bedridden and in pain for
six months. They’ll work to determine appropriate pain and suffering damages by considering how much a person would expect to be paid for a job that involved staying in bed for that long.
Essential Points to Remember
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your personal injury attorney can force anyone to use a specific pain and suffering calculator. Even if they believe the per diem method is appropriate, if the other parties don’t agree, they might have to use a different method. Additionally, many insurance companies use their own computer programs to calculate pain and suffering.
It’s also very important that you be as open and honest as possible when describing your pain and suffering to an attorney. Remember, to some degree, pain and suffering is subjective. Not every juror may agree on the extent to which anxiety negatively impacts your life, for example. Therefore, you’re much more likely to get the compensation you deserve if you thoroughly explain your condition when speaking with your lawyer. Doing so helps them present your case more effectively. Although some plaintiffs are reluctant to describe their pain and suffering because they don’t want to feel like they are “crying for attention,” honesty plays a crucial role at this stage.
Of course, after reading this, you probably understand that calculating the worth of your pain and suffering damages is a complicated process. This once again highlights the importance of working with a lawyer if you’ve been injured in Florida. At the Andriotis Law Firm, P.A., in Clearwater, we have the expertise necessary to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.