A major component of many injury cases is non-economic damages. Perhaps the most widely known form of non-economic damages includes pain and suffering.
Physical pain is a major consideration when determining these damages. Also, many people experience emotional or psychological trauma after accidents and injuries, and these experiences usually fall under the umbrella of bodily pain and emotional suffering. Evaluating these damages is often difficult because they are unrelated to monetary expenses. A common method sometimes involves calculating these damages in relation to economic damages (e.g., medical bills, property damage, lost income), but this is often a poor method of estimating non-economic losses.
Proving the extent of your pain and suffering is difficult, as they can be very subjective, but they are often the largest component of your claim. It is important to develop evidence that shows what kind of experiences you endured because of your injuries and how they affected your life. Factors considered may include the duration of pain, the nature of your injuries, and the overall impact on your life.
To arrange a free case review with our Indiana personal injury attorneys, call Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166.
Pain, suffering, and other negative experiences are not singular injuries but broad categories. Some damages, like physical pain, are obvious, while others might be less apparent. You should speak with an attorney about damages for physical pain and emotional distress in your case so you do not miss out on the compensation you rightly deserve.
Physical pain from bodily injuries can be a major component of your damages. Proving the extent of your pain is challenging because pain is very subjective. Generally, pain is something that flows naturally from physical injuries. In many cases, plaintiffs do not need hard evidence of their pain. Instead, the jury can infer pain from the nature of the injuries and testimony of the injured person and their loved ones. For example, a jury can readily infer that a severed limb in a car accident caused the victim great physical pain. However, testimony of the victim and their loved ones can make the impact of this pain resonate with a jury. We often use documentary videos showing a “day in the life” of the injury victim so that the jury can see how the injuries have impacted the victim and their family.
People who survive traumatic accidents or incidents often experience some level of mental anguish. Conditions like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or PTSD are common and worth considerable damages. Additionally, you may claim conditions or experiences that are not necessarily diagnosable psychological disorders as part of your damages. For example, if your accident was very embarrassing and ruined your reputation in your community, you may assert those factors when claiming damages for mental suffering or anguish.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages, including suffering and pain, are unrelated to money. Insurance adjusters may employ one of two popular methods for calculating these damages. However, we caution against a one size fits all approach and you should speak to your Carmel, IN personal injury attorney about how your damages should be calculated.
This method calculates non-economic damages based on the duration of negative experiences. Our Lafayette, IN personal injury attorneys will determine a fair dollar value for each day you suffered or were in pain. The longer your painful experiences last, the greater your compensation should be.
For example, we might determine that a fair value for each day of your pain and suffering is $1,000. Next, suppose you experienced physical pain and psychological trauma for 18 months after being hurt. This would mean your pain, suffering, or anguish lasted for approx. 540 days, and you should be awarded $540,000.
The per diem value we determine would be an issue in dispute before a jury. While we might argue that $1,000 per day is fair, the defendant will argue otherwise. The more intense your injuries and ordeal, the greater your per diem value should be. We will develop evidence of the severity of your injuries and losses to support your claim.
This method is another popular method that calculates non-economic damages by multiplying your total economic damages by a certain factor to assess your non-economic losses. However, this is often a very poor way of determining your pain, suffering, and non-economic losses because there is often little correlation between the two.
Under this system, a numerical value (i.e., the multiplier) is assigned to your economic losses. Usually, the multiplier is a number from 1 to 5. To determine your damages for suffering and pain, the multiplier is applied to your economic damages. The greater the multiplier, the greater your damages for pain and suffering.
A higher multiplier is appropriate in cases where pain and suffering are more severe. For example, suppose your accident left you permanently disabled or disfigured, and you deal with long-term pain and medical complications from your injuries. In that case, a higher multiplier would be used.
Although defense lawyers and insurance adjusters will frequently look to this method for considering non-economic loss, we believe it is seldom an appropriate method for determining the impact of the injuries on your life. Consider, for instance, situations where a person endures substantial and lasting emotional trauma due to the misconduct of a defendant, but there are few medical solutions in place. In such an instance, total economic losses may be quite small in relation to the pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life suffered by the victim.
Because there is often very little correlation between the value of economic losses and non-economic losses, we rarely advocate using this as a means of calculating these damages. We believe such damages should be evaluated on their own merits under the per diem method, and this is almost always how we present these injuries to a jury.
Proving pain and suffering both involves proof of your medical injuries and proof of how those injuries have impacted the victim.
Your medical records are crucial to show the jury how you were hurt, the extent of your injuries, and any painful complications that might have come up during treatment. This is especially important in cases where the plaintiff’s injuries are not outwardly visible and cannot be seen by the jury.
If your injuries and medical records are especially complex, we can have a doctor testify as an expert witness and explain your medical records and injuries to the jury. Even if your injuries are not extremely complicated, hearing a doctor explain them may be more persuasive to a jury.
If you took photos of your injuries after they occurred, those pictures might be incredibly powerful pieces of evidence. People often take pictures of injuries after an accident if they intend to file an insurance claim. If you reported your accident and injuries to the police, such as in cases of assault, they might have taken the pictures to use as evidence in a criminal trial.
We also need evidence of your emotional or mental trauma and anguish. Getting therapy or counseling from a mental health professional is a good idea. If you have a diagnosable psychological condition (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD), the diagnosis should be reflected in your doctor’s records.
Last but certainly not least, your own testimony and those of your family and friends about your experiences is of the utmost importance to your case. We will typically present testimony of family members, friends, and colleagues to testify regarding your life before the accident compared to your life after. This is often the very most important testimony during a trial, as it lets a jury step into the victim’s shoes and understand the impact of the injures at a human level.
Contact our Evansville personal injury lawyers by calling the offices of Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166 to schedule an evaluation of your claims and damages for free.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.