There are two primary damages associated with a negligent injury: economic and non-economic. Pain and suffering is a blanket term used to describe an accident or injury’s physical and emotional effects. These non-economic damages are separate from medical bills when pursuing compensation through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
It is more challenging to calculate because pain and suffering are more intangible than other losses. But under Georgia law, accident victims can pursue pain and suffering compensation for injuries caused by someone’s negligent or intentional act.
Generally, here’s how to estimate their value:
Defining Your Pain & Suffering
The Cornell Law School defines pain and suffering as “the physical or emotional distress resulting from an injury.” No two accident victims experience the same injuries, but pain and suffering often include:
- Diminished quality of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Chronic physical pain
- Anxiety, including panic attacks
- Insomnia, night terrors, or other sleep issues
- Weight gain or loss
- Emotional anguish from injury, disability, or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
How Insurance Companies Calculate Pain & Suffering
Your physical injuries weigh heavily on how insurance companies calculate pain and suffering. A simplistic explanation is that the more significant and severe your physical injuries, the more compensation you could recover for associated pain and suffering.
Don’t Be Misled by a Multiplier Method
Many clients come to us and are under the impression they are entitled to 3 times their medical bills and other associated losses. However, this is largely a myth centered around insurance companies using a “multiplier method” to calculate pain and suffering. While generally, higher numbers apply if you are severely injured or if your injuries resulted in disability, disfigurement, or a chronic medical condition, insurance companies do not use official calculations.
Per Diem Method
The “per diem” (Latin for “per day”) is a method of calculating pain and suffering damages that assigns a dollar figure to each that the injured individual experienced pain and suffering. Some attorneys may argue for a particular dollar figure for each minute or hour of a person’s pain and suffering.
The amount requested for each unit of time can vary depending on fluctuations in the person’s pain levels. For example, a higher amount may be requested for the time period shortly after an injury or surgery, when pain may be more severe. At the same time, a lower amount per day may be requested after the more significant pain has subsided, but the person still experiences pain and suffering and other limitations.
How Do You Prove Pain & Suffering?
Insurance companies and the court need details that explain the extent and severity of your experience.
Demonstrating your pain and suffering may include:
- Medical test results
- Testimony from subject matter experts on the extent of your injuries and how they impact your physical and emotional health, anticipated recovery period, and general prognosis
- Testimony from vocational experts on effects of pain and suffering on your ability to return to work
- Evidence of the economic impact of pain and suffering on reduced or loss of income
- Testimony from family, friends, and co-workers who witnessed changes in your physical and emotional health since the accident
- Your testimony of how you feel, physically and emotionally, and how your injuries have affected you
Pain & Suffering Laws in Georgia
Georgia state law on pain and suffering allows juries to award damages based on “reasonable deductions from the evidence in the case.” The state does not have a monetary cap. Sometimes, emotional damages are greater than those awarded for economic damages.
Specifically, Georgia has a pattern of jury instructions in injury cases with nine items to consider when awarding pain and suffering damages:
- Interference with normal living;
- Interference with enjoyment of life;
- Loss of capacity to labor and earn money;
- Impairment of bodily health and vigor;
- Fear of extent of injury;
- Shock of impact;
- Actual pain and suffering (past and future);
- Mental anguish (past and future); and
- Extent to which Plaintiff must limit activities
Some actors that may influence more or less compensation for pain and suffering during settlement discussions include:
- Extent of medical treatment, including any surgeries
- The need for any future treatment
- Inability to engage in certain activities and hobbies
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Disfigurements, such as scarring or burns
- Reduced earning capacity
- Jury verdicts in similar cases
Insurance companies are notorious for not correctly evaluating pain and suffering claims. They like to see numbers and things that can be measured. It is easier for insurance companies to evaluate economic damages with a definite number, such as medical bills and lost wages, than for them to evaluate damages like pain and suffering. However, insurers consider the case’s likelihood of going before a jury and what a jury verdict may be based on the case’s particular facts. As a result, it is important to have a lawyer prepare your case for trial.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Georgia’s modified comparative negligence is another state law that affects how pain and suffering are calculated. You may seek compensation for pain and suffering if you are less than 50% responsible for your injuries. If you are less than 50% at fault, you can still recover damages, but your percent of fault reduces your damages.
For example, if your damages are $100,000 but you are ten percent at fault, your total monetary award would be $90,000.
Why Legal Representation Is Important
Preparing a pain and suffering claim is a significant undertaking. Insurance companies do not make it straightforward for accident victims to recover compensation. It is often a fight for insurers to pay economic damages, let alone pain and suffering.
Working with an experienced Marietta, GA personal injury lawyer offers several advantages:
- Gathers all necessary evidence, documentation, and testimony
- Meets deadlines for filing along with required insurance and courtroom procedures
- Communicate with the insurer or the defendant’s lawyer on your behalf
- Understands and applies appropriate state law and case precedent
- Prepare your case for court with a minimum of stress on your part
- Protects your legal rights
- Makes sure that you understand your options, including the settlement terms
Contact The Champion Firm for a Free Consultation
The Champion Firm has recovered over $90 Million in damages for our injured clients, including their pain and suffering. We are aggressive negotiators with real trial experience who fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations or deadline for personal injury lawsuits. Make sure you have plenty of time to exercise your legal options. Call The Champion Firm today at 404-596-8044 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.