Understanding Pain & Suffering in a Personal Injury Claim

February 8, 2023 | Uncategorized

You’ve probably heard of pain and suffering in reference to personal injury suits, but you might not know what it means or why it’s important if you get hurt in an accident. You need to know pain and suffering is a crucial form of compensation that can make a huge difference in the amount of compensation you take home in a successful legal claim. Here, the Colorado personal injury attorneys at Earl & Earl, PLLC answer some of the top questions clients have about pain and suffering awards in personal injury cases. 

What is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering describes the intangible effects of an injury on your life. These effects can be physical, emotional, or psychological. You may suffer physical pain while recovering from your injuries or chronic pain that interferes with your daily life. This could lead to depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many emotional and psychological issues can develop after an injury, and no two people are alike. 

Here are the answers to some of the most pressing questions injury victims have about pain and suffering:

  1. How do you explain pain and suffering? It’s complicated. What constitutes pain and suffering is unique to each victim and each case.
  2. Can I sue for pain and suffering? You could be entitled to sue for pain and suffering if someone else is responsible for your injury. You may also want to settle out of court.
  3. How much can you get in pain and suffering? The amount you could receive for your claim depends on several factors, including the severity of your pain and suffering and its effect on your life.
  4. Is pain and suffering the same as bodily injury? No. Bodily injuries can cause pain and suffering, but a personal injury claim involving pain and suffering looks at intangible losses that don’t necessarily have a specific dollar value attached to them. 

Evidence in a Pain and Suffering Claim

To receive compensation for pain and suffering, you must prove that you suffered physical, emotional, or psychological harm directly caused by the accident. Evidence that could support your claim might include:

  • Photographs or videos of injuries
  • Medical records and professionals’ notes of medical treatment
  • Prescription receipts
  • Testimony or depositions about you from family, friends, or co-workers about your pre- and post-accident life
  • Personal journal entries describing your pain and feelings regarding your injuries

An experienced personal injury attorney can gather the proof necessary to build a strong case for pain and suffering compensation. 

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Insurance companies use different methods to calculate a pain and suffering award. There is no fixed formula. Instead, insurers look at the evidence and determine whether they think a demand for compensation is valid and how much they will pay. In court, a jury assesses the evidence and decides whether an amount for pain and suffering is justified. 

Colorado places a limit, or cap, on the amount of money a claimant can receive in pain and suffering damages. For most personal injury claims, pain and suffering awards are capped at $250,000 unless there is clear and convincing evidence to justify a larger award. If so, the amount increases to $500,000 (plus inflation). Medical malpractice awards for pain and suffering are capped at $300,000.   

Regardless of the method used to calculate pain and suffering, negotiation is often required to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement. Having an attorney to represent you during settlement talks is a crucial way to maximize your compensation. 

Under Colorado law, you can still obtain compensation as long as you are 49 percent or less responsible for your injuries. A single percentage point higher, and you are barred from obtaining any money at all. When the stakes are high, a skilled personal injury lawyer will defend your interests so you are compensated fairly for your losses. 

Get Help From our Personal Injury Attorney

The legal team at Earl & Earl, PLLC are experienced personal injury clients who fight aggressively for the rights of accident victims. Contact us today for a free consultation.