A personal injury claim is an opportunity for an accident victim to seek financial compensation not only for physical injuries and financial losses but also for the personal toll suffered. In severe injury cases, emotional distress can be just as debilitating as the injury itself. Seeking pain and suffering damages is not unreasonable; unfortunately, insurance companies can make it difficult to receive fair compensation. Learn how to seek the results you deserve for the invisible side of your injury.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
In personal injury law, pain and suffering is an umbrella phrase that can encompass many different types of noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages, also referred to as general or intangible losses, are the non-monetary ways an accident and injury have impacted a victim. If you seek compensation for pain and suffering, your list of related damages may include:
- Physical pain
- Chronic pain
- Emotional or mental anguish
- Psychological trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Sexual dysfunction
- Grief over losing a loved one
Every victim will have a unique experience trying to recover from a serious injury or traumatic accident. These are referred to as general damages, however, because they often refer to feelings and suffering that would be experienced by the average person after such an event. While it is sometimes possible to file a lawsuit for only pain and suffering, with no corresponding physical injury, this is rare. Typically, the victim must have suffered physical injuries to receive pain and suffering damages.
Pain and Suffering Settlements Are Difficult to Calculate
Unlike economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, there are no hard numbers available to calculate pain and suffering. Instead of using bills and documents to calculate this type of damage award, the courts often rely on the jury’s discretion. One common equation used, but not required, by a jury is the Multiplier Method.
This equation takes the victim’s overall economic damages and multiplies it by a number that is appropriate based on the extent of the victim’s injuries, typically between one and five. There is no minimum required amount of pain and suffering necessary to pursue these damages; however, more severe injuries often have higher claim values.
Some States Have Damage Caps on Pain and Suffering
It is common for states to cap, or limit, the amount that a claimant can receive in noneconomic damages or pain and suffering. In Missouri, these damages are not usually capped. During a medical malpractice claim or a claim brought against a government entity, however, there are caps on noneconomic damages.
The amount of the cap in a medical malpractice case will depend on the severity of the injury, starting at $457,749 for non-catastrophic injuries as of 2023. In Kansas, pain and suffering damages are capped in wrongful death claims and claims against the government. In a wrongful death cause of action in Kansas, no more than $250,000 can be awarded in noneconomic damages.
Hiring a Lawyer Can Help Your Case
Insurance companies don’t like to pay high amounts for pain and suffering. They often try to protect their own profits by underestimating the impact an injury has had on the victim. The best way to protect yourself during insurance claim negotiations is by hiring an attorney. An attorney will know how to deal with an insurance company on your behalf and negotiate for maximum financial compensation for pain and suffering.
A lawyer can also help you prove pain and suffering, which can be challenging, as there is often no hard evidence. You cannot demonstrate pain and suffering with an x-ray as you could a physical injury such as a broken bone. A Kansas City personal injury lawyer can help you prove how much you have suffered because of the injury, such as through testimony from friends and family or a mental health diagnosis from your doctor.