How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, a personal injury claim can help you pursue compensation for your losses. The goal of that compensation is to make you “whole,” or restore you as much as possible to the condition you were in before the accident.
In personal injury claims, victims seek reimbursement for actual financial losses like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. But they can also pursue compensation for intangible emotional losses. In Colorado, this form of compensation is called pain and suffering.
But how do you put a price on pain and suffering? At Earl & Earl, PLLC, we know that no dollar amount can replace the emotional distress you feel in the aftermath of a serious accident. However, our experienced lawyers can help you calculate a fair amount to pursue in pain and suffering damages from the at-fault party.
How is Pain and Suffering Defined in Colorado?
Pain and suffering refers to non-financial losses, usually referred to as “damages,” resulting from an accident. Pain and suffering may include a wide range of intangible physical, psychological, and emotional losses. Common examples of physical and emotional pain and suffering include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Physical disability
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Sleep problems
- Loss of consortium (e.g., loss of a sexual relationship, affection, moral support, or companionship)
- Lost quality of life
- Psychological harm
How Much Can You Get for Pain and Suffering?
There is no way to guarantee a certain amount of pain and suffering in a personal injury claim. In general, the more severe your injuries, the more compensation you might be entitled to. The value of your claim will depend entirely on the specific circumstances of your case. Juries have broad discretion to award the amount of pain and suffering they believe appropriate based on the evidence presented in court.
However, Colorado law currently caps the damages for non-economic losses like pain and suffering to $642,180. This amount can be raised to $1,284,370 if the plaintiff can provide “clear and convincing” support for an increase.
If you were permanently physically impaired, then your case will not be subject to non-economic damage caps, and there is no limit to the amount you can recover.
The caps increase every two years. Adjusted rates can be found here.
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?
Pursuing a claim for pain and suffering can be challenging. While it is often easier to prove you sustained a physical injury, such as a broken leg or arm, intangible losses are not so easy to quantify. To establish pain and suffering, you must show that what you endured directly resulted from the accident that injured you.
When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case, they will likely have you evaluated by a physician or mental health professional to testify about your condition in court. Your lawyer will gather other evidence to demonstrate that you suffered physical, emotional, or psychological harm, such as:
- Documentation of mental health treatment with a psychologist, mental health professional, or religious leader
- Proof that you can no longer perform your usual day-to-day activities or engage in personal hobbies because of your condition
- Loss of consortium with a spouse or partner (e.g., lack of sexual relations) and companionship with family members, including children
- Proof of medical treatment for the physical pain you suffered due to the accident
Permanent disfigurement, such as burns, scarring, amputation, or a permanent disability
Ways to Calculate Pain and Suffering
Insurance companies usually use one of two methods to calculate pain and suffering:
- Pain and suffering multiplier: Usually done by adding up the amount of the financial (or economic) losses and multiplying by a number between 1 and 5
- Per diem: Sets a dollar amount per day and multiplies it by the number of days it took to recover from your injury
Because the estimates are subjective, insurance adjusters tend to dispute dollar amounts for pain and suffering. An aggressive injury lawyer will collect persuasive evidence showing why you deserve maximum compensation for your losses.
Getting Started on a Pain and Suffering Claim
At Earl & Earl, PLLC, we know that accidents can take a toll long after the initial healing period is over. That’s why we work so hard to obtain maximum compensation for our clients in the Centennial State. When you work with a pain and suffering lawyer at our firm, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands. We will work tirelessly to help you hold the at-fault party accountable for their negligence or misconduct.
Contact us today for a free case review with a top personal injury attorney.