Florida’s personal injury laws give injured parties a legal cause of action for damages. You can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries and damages caused by a defective product, slip and fall, medical malpractice, car accident, or other accident.
Special damages include financial losses, such as lost wages and medical expenses. These damages are known as economic damages. Injured parties may also seek compensation for non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering damages.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
When you sustain injuries in an accident or other incident, you may suffer physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress. General damages represent the trauma you suffer because of the other party’s conduct. “Damages” refers to the compensation you receive for your suffering.
Non-economic damages can include, but might not be limited to:
Physical Pain and Discomfort
Pain and discomfort can last for a few weeks or months after an injury or accident. However, some victims may experience chronic pain for the rest of their lives. Permanent injuries and disabling conditions can result in lifelong suffering.
Examples of injuries that can cause physical discomfort include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Head injuries
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Nerve damage
- Spinal injuries
- Organ damage
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Back injuries
Tracking your daily physical pain levels can be helpful. Also, make notes of the activities you cannot perform because of the pain and how the pain limits your ability to care for yourself, perform your job, and care for your family.
Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
Being involved in an accident and sustaining injuries can cause severe emotional distress and mental harm. An injury victim may experience long-term psychological effects from an accident and injury. Some conditions can be debilitating.
Examples of emotional distress and mental anguish include, but are not limited to:
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Cognitive changes and mood disorders
- Diminished quality of life
- Eating disorders
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Individuals who sustain permanent impairments, disfigurement, and scarring often need counseling and therapy to help them cope with the emotional and mental trauma they experience. It is just as important to seek treatment for emotional injuries after a personal injury as it is to seek treatment for physical injuries.
How Much is My Claim for Pain and Suffering Worth?
Converting someone’s suffering into a dollar amount is challenging. Unlike economic damages, there is no bill or invoice you can use to prove how much your pain and suffering are worth. Medical records establish the type and severity of a person’s injuries, but they do not tell us how much they suffered.
Florida tort laws do not provide a formula to calculate pain and suffering. However, there are two methods that most insurance companies and plaintiff’s attorneys use to calculate pain and suffering damages.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method uses the total of your economic damages to calculate the value of your pain and suffering damages. A number between 1.5 and five (the multiplier) is chosen based on the facts of your case. The more severe your injuries and damages, the higher the multiplier.
Factors that your attorney and the insurance company may consider include:
- The type and severity of your injury
- The duration of your recovery
- Whether you sustained permanent impairments
- The impact of your injuries on your daily life
- Whether you can return to work
- Your appearance before and after the accident
Using this method, your pain and suffering damages equal your economic damages (i.e., medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.) times the multiplier.
The Per Diem Method
If this method is used, an amount is chosen to compensate the victim for each day between the date of injury and the date they reach maximum medical improvement.
Maximum medical improvement is the point in your recovery that your doctor believes no further medical treatment will improve your condition. Some people make a full recovery. However, other accident victims may have a permanent impairment.
The per diem method may be used in cases where the patient fully recovers from their injuries. However, a per diem may not fully compensate someone with a permanent impairment.
Insurance companies try to minimize damages for pain and suffering. Without an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the value of non-economic damages, the claims adjuster could pay you far less than your injury claim is worth.
How Do I Prove a Claim for Pain and Suffering Damages?
Every case is unique, and every victim experiences an injury differently. Therefore, it can be challenging to express the level of pain and suffering you experienced because of an accident and injury.
Evidence that your attorney may present to support your claim for pain and suffering damages includes:
- Photographs of your injuries
- Medical records
- Testimony from your physicians, therapists, mental health providers, and other medical experts
- Your testimony describing your recovery and how your injuries impact your daily life
- Testimony from friends, relatives, employers, and co-workers who witnessed your recovery
It is crucial to demonstrate the negative impacts your injuries had on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Because your medical records are evidence, it is essential to be honest with your physicians and health care providers throughout your recovery. You never want to exaggerate your pain and symptoms, but you want to document the information accurately.
Therefore, try to be as accurate as possible when rating your pain levels for your doctors and medical providers. Do not put on a “brave face.” Instead, be as specific as possible when assessing your pain levels and symptoms.
Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your Pain and Suffering Damages
The steps you take after an injury or accident can significantly impact the outcome of your personal injury case.
Tips for improving your chance of receiving fair compensation for your damages include:
- Do not admit fault for the cause of your injury or the accident
- Avoid giving recorded or written statements without an attorney
- Do not give the insurance company your medical records or sign a medical release without legal counsel
- Seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries
- Do not decline medical care after an accident or say that you are “okay” or “fine”
- Follow your medical treatment plan and your doctor’s instructions
- Avoid using social media or allowing anyone to post information about you online
- Keep a detailed journal describing your recovery
Insurance claims adjusters often take advantage of injured victims who do not have an attorney. The claims adjuster may tell you that they worked hard to get the company to pay you a fair amount for your claim. However, the amount you receive is likely far less than the value of your damages.
Instead of trusting the insurance company, talk with a Jacksonville personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement claim. An attorney can assess your claim and provide an honest and accurate value for your damages.
Contact a Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer For Help Calculating Your Pain and Suffering Damages
You deserve compensation for the pain and suffering caused by another party’s negligence and wrongdoing. Contact an experienced Jacksonville personal injury attorney to discuss your claim and accurately value your pain and suffering damages.