In most personal injury cases, plaintiffs seek compensation for expenses they incur along with pain and suffering. Out-of-pocket expenses, such as drugs and medical bills, are quite easy to document using simple evidence such as providing receipts. On the other hand, pain and suffering is quite difficult to prove and quantify, as there’s no tangible evidence.
Understanding pain and suffering
Pain and suffering refers to the victim’s physical and emotional suffering resulting from an injury accident. The different types of pain and suffering claims in Texas include:
- Emotional distress, including panic attacks, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and other forms of mental and emotional trauma
- Temporary or permanent physical pain and discomfort
- Loss of consortium or the inability to continue having a physical relationship with your partner (in wrongful death cases)
- The emotional or psychological impact that affects your quality of life either temporarily or permanently
- Loss of memory
- Injury to your reputation
One may seek compensation for pain and suffering due to medical malpractice, a car accident, libel and slander, dog attacks, assault or battery, and other personal injury cases.
How is pain and suffering calculated in Texas?
The Northwestern University School of Law has published a report on how to calculate pain and suffering in Texas. However, it is almost impossible to place a value on intangible damages as no amount of money can compensate victims for trauma, psychological damages, or permanent disabilities. In Texas, a court of law tries to compensate personal injury victims through the basic multiplier or the per diem method.
Basic multiplier method
This is the most common method of compensating pain and suffering victims. The jury first calculates the total amount of economic or special damages the victims suffer. This is determined by calculating the specific amount for such expenses as lost wages, medical bills, and property modifications. The jury then chooses a number between one and five and multiplies it with the total amount of special damages.
The number the jury selects depends on the severity or extent of the pain and suffering, with one being the lowest and five the highest. For example, a slip and fall that results in a bone fracture which heals perfectly may only qualify for a 1.5 compensation. On the other hand, a car accident that results in traumatic brain injury may qualify for a 5 on the compensation scale. Following these examples and with special damages amounting to $150,000, the person who suffers the fracture’s pain and suffering compensation would amount to $225,000 while the brain injury victim would be awarded $750,000.
Per Diem method
Per Diem is a Latin phrase that means ‘per day’. This method is more suitable for calculating damages emanating from temporary injuries. In this method, the jury calculates the number of days the victim underwent pain and suffering and multiplies them with a daily rate.
For example, if the slip and fall victim went through pain and suffering for 25 days, and the jury assigns a value of $150 per day, the victim will receive $3750. The jury assigns the per diem value by evaluating the victim’s missed hours at work or their daily lost wages.
The factors that the jury looks at when determining your pain and suffering claim include:
- The severity of the injuries
- The level of pain, discomfort, and inconvenience the injuries caused
- The impact of the injuries on your relationships, social status, and life
- How the injuries affected your career prospects
- The time duration the injuries will take to heal
- Whether ongoing psychological or ongoing therapy is necessary
Proving pain and suffering in Texas
Texas law permits the recovery of damages for physical pain and suffering, both past and future. Recovery for physical pain and suffering in the past can be established through the testimony of the plaintiff who may describe his symptoms and show his injury to the jury. As such, if you have undergone pain and suffering as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation from the liable party. It is important that you document any evidence that will help your case. Documents that will prove your pain and suffering claim include:
- A documented report from a medical practitioner that affirms that you were injured and that there are legal grounds for a pain and suffering claim
- A report from a mental health expert that confirms that your state of mind was adversely affected by the accident. This is necessary if you are seeking compensation for such issues as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental health issues
- Drug prescriptions including drugs used to treat mental health issues and physical pain
- Your family or friends’ oral or written testimony of your pain and suffering
- Your oral or written testament to your pain and suffering. For example, you could include photos or a personal journal
Why you should seek legal help for your pain and suffering claim
Calculating and negotiating your pain and suffering claim is a daunting task. Legal claims for pain and suffering is typically denied in the majority of cases, unless the injuries are severe and the treatment you receive is significant (e.g., a surgery). At Thompson Law, we have handled hundreds of injury claims for pain and suffering, and we have the expertise necessary to ensure that the court comes to a reasonable and fair settlement. Call us today or contact us online for a free case evaluation.