How is Pain and Suffering Determined by Insurance Companies?

Experienced personal injury attorney Doug Lauenstein reviews the basics of how insurance companies view personal injury matters.

In personal injury cases there are no strict specifications regarding how to place monetary value on your pain and suffering. However, insurance companies may consider several different items.

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness, you can usually seek compensation by filing a third-party claim from the at-fault party’s insurance company. After establishing that the other individual is responsible for your injuries, you will also need to present evidence of your costs associated with the incident. In legal terms, this is what is referred to as “damages.” Ideally, the insurance company will provide you with compensation for your general “pain and suffering.”

What is “pain and suffering” exactly?

Pain and suffering is a term referring to a multitude of injuries that a plaintiff suffers as a result of an accident. Not only is physical pain considered, but emotional and mental hardship as well. Pain and suffering may encompass, but is not limited to, physical pain, fear, insomnia, grief, worry, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment in life.

How does an insurance company calculate damages?

There are two common methods that attorneys use for calculating pain and suffering. The first is to multiply the plaintiff’s explicit damages by a certain number, generally between one and five. The dividend depends on the severity of the situation. For example, if a plaintiff incurs $2,000 in medical bills related to a broken arm, he might multiply that by two and determine that $4,000 represents reasonable compensation for pain and suffering.

Alternatively, the other method is to use a per diem approach. This means that a certain amount, perhaps $150.00 is assigned to you every day from the day of the accident until the plaintiff reached maximum recovery.

Keep in mind that insurance companies do not calculate damages the way attorneys do. Many insurance companies use computer programs to determine what amount of a settlement offer should be allotted for pain and suffering. The programs often take the type of injury, type of medical treatment, and length of time for treatment into account.

How do I prove pain and suffering?

Providing damages for pain and suffering requires necessary evidence to support your claim. The extent of your injury and accompanying pain and suffering can be proven though documentation such as photographs, personal journals recording physical and emotional state over time, documentation from friends and family, and proof of treatment.

Proof of treatment by a mental health professional is helpful and necessary where the plaintiff claims injuries such as increased insomnia, depression, or anxiety.

How do I know if it’s fair or not?

If an insurance company makes a settlement offer that includes compensation for pain and suffering, a sensible approach is to use either the multiplier method or the per diem method to estimate a ballpark figure.

Although it is helpful to have these calculations in mind, it is of great benefit to have an experienced personal injury by your side through the process. An experienced attorney can be sure that you are staying within laws and will attempt to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your damages.

For more information on damages for pain and suffering, contact experienced personal injury attorney Doug Lauenstein in Maryland today.