Suffering injuries in an accident can be costly. Depending on your injuries, medical expenses alone can reach tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, you may lose significant income due to missed time at work. Additionally, your earning capacity may never be the same. However, some of the most profound losses from personal injuries are often less tangible, such as pain and suffering.
Defining Pain and Suffering Damages
“Pain and suffering” refers to the physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by an injury. It encompasses both the pain associated with an injury and the loss of enjoyment of life that may result. Legally, it is considered a “non-economic loss” since it does not correspond to specific financial costs in the way that medical bills or lost wages do. However, compensation is warranted given the significant impact pain and emotional trauma can have on an injured person’s quality of life.
The specific elements that constitute pain and suffering losses an injured person can recover in damages include physical pain, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and the inability to engage in everyday activities. Documenting how an injury has disrupted significant aspects of an injured person’s life is vital for recovering these kinds of losses.
Pain and suffering can be a component in virtually every personal injury case, including those concerning:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites
- Golf cart accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Nursing home abuse cases
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Premises liability
- Wrongful death
Factors That Affect the Value of Pain and Suffering Awards
Unlike medical bills, lost income, or property damage, the experience of pain and suffering does not correspond to a dollar value. Insurance companies and courts take the following factors into consideration when determining how much money to include in these awards:
- The severity of the injury and amount/duration of treatment – More severe injuries tend to lead to more pain. They usually warrant more substantial awards.
- Extent and duration of recovery time – Injuries with more extended and more intensive recovery periods often cause more physical and psychological distress.
- Amount of documented pain – Pain is subjective. Consistent documentation of high reported or observed pain levels will result in higher recovery amounts.
- Loss of income and/or ability to work – While reduced income is an economic loss, the person’s loss of their ability to participate in their occupation is often an additional source of psychological suffering and lack of self-confidence.
- Loss of companionship – Physical injuries can have a significant adverse impact on their ability to engage in social activities and sexual relations. These increase the individual’s suffering and social isolation.
- Permanent disability or disfigurement – Pain and suffering damages can often be substantial if an accident has caused permanent adverse changes to the individual’s body.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Compensation
Two primary means of determining the amount of damages owed for pain and suffering are the per diem method and the multiplier method.
In the per diem method, a daily rate is determined for the injured person’s pain and suffering. That daily rate is multiplied by the number of days the person will have pain and suffering.
If the multiplier method of calculating pain and suffering damages is used, the total of the injured person’s economic losses (medical expenses, lost wages, property damage) will be multiplied by a number between 1.5 and five. The greater the injury, the higher the number.
Limits on Damages
Many states have statutory limits on the amounts an individual can recover for pain and suffering in personal injury cases. South Carolina caps pain and suffering damages for medical malpractice cases at $546,869 as of 2023. However, the state does not have caps for general personal injury cases.
It is also worth noting that South Carolina operates on the principle of comparative negligence. Their percentage of responsibility may reduce the injured party’s award they are partially at fault for an accident. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you do everything possible to demonstrate that the other party bears all or most of the liability for the accident.
Contact Murphy Crantford Meehan Today
The aftermath of a severe accident can be painful, overwhelming, and confusing. You deserve to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve for your economic and non-economic losses. An experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer can help. The seasoned attorneys at Murphy Crantford Meehan have the knowledge and skills you need to maximize your pain and suffering compensation. Call us today at (843) 396-3840 or contact us online today for a free case review to learn more about how we can help you.