Many accident victims wonder just how their pain and suffering damages are calculated after they get injured in a wreck with another at-fault motorist. To be sure, it is a complex matter that few lay persons without legal training should undertake, lest their claims be woefully underpaid or outright denied.
To place a dollar value on your pain and suffering requires contemplation of your general damages as opposed to the special damages you are seeking.
Special damages versus general damages
There’s no mystery in calculating special damages after your accident and injuries. You simply add up all of your medical bills and other related costs, property damage and any lost wages. The total is the amount you seek for special damages.
General damages, however, are much more nebulous and speculative. They are based on factors such as your own personal circumstances, local standards and other intangibles.
What is pain and suffering?
The words “pain and suffering” can refer to the actual physical pain and discomfort you suffer(ed) due to your accident and injuries. But it also may include factors like:
- Memory loss
- Other emotional disorders
You also need to consider how these temporary or permanent limitations affect your day-to-day activities and interactions with your spouse and/or family and friends. Maybe you were a league bowler and coached your son’s Little League team each summer. Now, you’re sidelined in a wheelchair and need help just getting to the bathroom. These losses can and should be quantified as part of your claim.
Loss of consortium claims can also arise
Many personal injury claimants also don’t realize that spouses — and in some cases, other family members — may have legitimate loss of consortium claims that they can file along with your claims for damages.
Loss of consortium claims deal with the loss of the intimate and/or supportive relationship you shared with your spouse or other family members. Here’s how that could work:
When the truck struck you from behind and fractured the vertebrae in your back, you could no longer be sexually intimate with your husband. You could also no longer be his help-mate in managing the household duties or co-parenting your children. This was a great loss and added burden for your spouse and it adversely affected your marriage.
While flat on your back recovering from the injuries you suffered, you also missed out on playing with your children and tending to their needs. The kids’ relationships with you suffered as a result.
Let a professional properly evaluate your case
Nobody wants to walk away from settlement negotiations with money still on the table. But, unless you properly and accurately valuate your personal injury claim, it could unfortunately happen to you.