General damages are those less quantifiable losses accident victims suffer due to the negligence of another party. Pain and suffering may refer to pre-death pain and suffering experienced by the accident victim if it is a wrongful death case. Surviving personal injury cases may also involve addressing pain and suffering as general damages. With help of skilled Austin personal injury attorney, the plaintiff often claims pain and suffering as a part of their total damages amount when they assert claims against defendants.

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Understanding the Difference Between Special Damages and General Damages

Distinguishing between special damages and general damages is essential. These categories refer to the main types of damages that plaintiffs may claim in personal injury cases. Injured parties commonly determine their total damages using medical bills, records, and other documentary evidence. Focusing on the most important aspects of calculating the total damages amount is also necessary.

The Damages Included Under Pain and Suffering In a Personal Injury Case

It can be challenging to determine what pain and suffering encompasses. The following are examples of pain and suffering:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Disfigurement
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Physical pain and suffering

The more serious the injuries an accident victim suffers, the greater their pain and suffering will be. These values will, therefore, be higher in cases involving serious bodily injury and death. Wrongful death cases are often complex and difficult to prosecute because they involve many different areas of the law.

An accident victim with minor injuries will not have a high pain and suffering figure in their total damages calculation. One of the most important tasks a personal injury attorney will perform is calculating pain and suffering damages.

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages

Experience Attorney for personal injury in Austin TXNo single device or tool will determine the total pain and suffering experienced by an accident victim. Several calculation methods are useful for assessing the potential value of the pain and suffering experienced by an individual plaintiff.

The multiplier method is most commonly used to calculate pain and suffering damages. First, you calculate the total economic damages associated with an injury. Next, the jurors will receive instructions to multiply the total economic damages figure by a multiplier, usually between one and a half and five. The cases involving the most serious injuries may warrant using a greater multiplier.

If an injured victim suffers $20,000 in economic damages, applying a multiplier of two to the economic damages amount may result in a $40,000 award for pain and suffering damages. Accident victims enduring paraplegia, quadriplegia, or another type of permanent injury may have a multiplier of five applied.

The second method of calculating pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases is the per diem method. A single monetary value is applied every day a plaintiff recovers from their injuries. Sometimes, an individual’s salary calculates pain and suffering damages using the per diem method.

For example, a plaintiff may receive $100 daily for pain and suffering. Once they recover from their injuries after 50 days of treatment, their pain and suffering damages will total $5,000.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys may strategically choose to use the multiplier method or the per diem method, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. It is often typical for attorneys to explain to their clients the benefits of using the multiplier or per diem methods. The strengths and weaknesses implicit in each method may be more or less beneficial in specific cases.

Insurance Companies Have Different Tools for Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

Insurance claim adjusters will use specific software programs to calculate a case’s total pain and suffering damages. These tools will allow the insurance company to reach a base figure to negotiate a settlement. As is almost always the case, the insurance company initially offers a low settlement amount. However, as settlement negotiations proceed, the insurance company will want to stay within the range of values produced by the software program they use to calculate the total damages amount in a case.

Cases involving minor injuries are typically easier to settle than cases involving serious bodily injury or death. Plaintiffs and defendants may have to worry about jury selection and jury instructions if a case goes to trial, and the method of calculating pain and suffering damages becomes more relevant. Insurance companies will try to reduce their overall cost for any personal injury case. A personal injury attorney can scrutinize insurance companies’ methods to calculate pain and suffering damages.

Some methods may be more balanced and equitable than others. Suppose an insurance company presents false data or incorrect details to an algorithm. In that case, the court may want to take action regarding the calculation method the insurance company uses. Often, accident victims must allow their cases to proceed so they can present evidence of their injuries and demonstrate how they calculated their pain and suffering damages.

The Specific Losses Accident Victims May Claim as Pain and Suffering Damages

The types of losses accident victims may claim as pain and suffering damages are diverse. The following are some common examples of pain and suffering damages:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of bodily function
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental suffering
  • Physical pain and suffering

Although this is not a complete list of the types of losses victims may claim as pain and suffering damages, it does include the most common forms of pain and suffering claims.

Prospective clients must understand that pain and suffering are inherently subjective, not objective. Due to this, it can be difficult for courts to assess a plaintiff’s pain and suffering. Therefore, the nature and severity of the injury suffered by the plaintiff will be relevant to the court’s calculation of pain and suffering damages.

Important Elements that Influence the Calculation of Pain and Suffering

An accident victim is more likely to place a greater value on their pain and suffering because they lived through the experience. However, juries and courts must examine different elements when calculating the economic value of someone’s pain and suffering. The following elements are critical to the accurate assessment of pain and suffering:

  • The way injuries affect the accident victim’s family life
  • Income level
  • Overall health
  • Age
  • The way the injuries will affect the victim’s future
  • The present impact of the accident victim’s injuries
  • The severity of the injuries suffered by the accident victim
  • The nature of the injuries suffered by the accident victim

An injury journal may aid in formulating ideas about the progression of your recovery. Also, this document may help the court determine how you suffered due to the pain and suffering you experienced. It may be necessary to reflect on how your injuries have limited your life or impaired your ability to enjoy hobbies and relationships.

A cap on general damages limits specific cases. The law in medical malpractice cases restricts general damages from being surpassed. Speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney assists in determining the course of action when pursuing a medical malpractice claim.

The Economic Value of Pain and Suffering

Predicting the total amount of pain and suffering damages you may obtain in a personal injury case is impossible. You need to focus on what you can do to substantiate your legal claims and ensure that you have evidence of your pain and suffering. No individual human being’s suffering has an inherent economic value. Courts and juries must do the best they can with the tools they possess to provide an estimate of the economic value that will compensate the victims for the suffering they endured.

Proving Pain and Suffering

Establishing pain and suffering in any personal injury case can be difficult. The following are some of the most common options for proving pain and suffering:

  • Testimony provided by a psychiatrist or therapist
  • Mental health care records
  • Testimony of a medical professional
  • Medical records
  • Testimony provided by friends and family members of the victim
  • Testimony provided by the accident victim
  • A Day in the Life video demonstrates the injury’s impact on the accident victim’s everyday activities.
  • Writing an injury journal that documents the pain and suffering the accident victim experiences

The pain and suffering endured by those who suffer paraplegia or quadriplegia may be different from that suffered by an accident victim who suffers a sprained ankle. However, all pain and suffering is unique to the accident victim because it is personal, subjective, and isolated. Therefore, it is impossible to conduct an analysis of the pain and suffering experienced by two individual accident victims.

The Benefits of Retaining a Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury attorney can provide the instruction, guidance, and advocacy you need to ensure that your legal rights are enforced and protected. It can be extremely difficult to negotiate with insurance companies on your own. You do not have to stand up to insurance claim adjusters alone. Hiring a personal injury lawyer will enable you to do the following things:

  • Have a professional on your side who cares about your well-being
  • Request medical records and medical bills.
  • Participate in depositions
  • Heal from your injuries while your attorney focuses on your civil lawsuit.
  • Keep your stress levels low while still standing up to the insurance company.
  • Advising you on your legal options as your injury progresses

A lawyer can give you the legal representation to seek monetary compensation for your injuries. You must focus on everything you can to ensure the insurance company does not ignore your legal rights.

A personal injury attorney can also investigate the accident by hiring expert witnesses such as accident reconstruction professionals. These expert witnesses will produce reports introduced as evidence if a trial is necessary. Opposing counsel will examine these reports and understand that you are being proactive in how you are going about prosecuting your case. These actions demonstrate to the insurance company and their attorneys that you are adamant about pursuing the compensation you deserve.

Therefore, when you retain an attorney, it is more likely that your case will settle rather than go to trial, and it is also more likely that you will obtain a larger sum by having an attorney on your side. The personal injury attorney will only receive payment if they obtain a settlement or judgment on your behalf. In essence, you have a lot to gain by hiring an attorney, and you may potentially lose your case if you proceed pro se and have it dismissed on procedural grounds.

Substantive Law and Procedural Law

The outcome of your case may depend solely on procedural issues, yet many prospective clients do not understand the difference between substantive law and procedural law.

Substantive law concerns the text of statutes and common law principles that articulate the rights and duties applicable to specific individuals. Procedural law defines the boundaries and limits set by the legal system on litigating rights and duties in federal and state courts.

For example, in federal court, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are applicable, and in state courts, the respective procedural rules of the jurisdictions are applicable. Prospective clients need to understand that one of the most valuable things about hiring an attorney is the knowledge the attorney possesses of procedural rules.

A defense attorney can file a 12(b)(six) motion to dismiss if there’s a failure to state a claim allowing relief. If this occurs to a pro se litigant, they may not know how to analyze the text of the motion or oppose the motion. It is dangerous to proceed in federal or state court without an attorney because it takes years of diligent study and practice to understand the procedural rules that can win or lose cases.

Ted R. Lorenz, Personal Injury Lawyer in Austin, TX.

Ted R. Lorenz, Personal Injury Attorney in Austin

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Personal injury lawyers are here to assist with every aspect of your personal injury case. Contact a top-rated Austin personal injury law firm near you today if you want to learn more about pain and suffering damages. They can provide you with skilled legal representation and ensure you can obtain the financial compensation you deserve.

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