How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Schaumburg personal injury attorney pain and sufferingWhen you or a family member has suffered a personal injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have probably suffered serious financial losses as well. Even if you had good health insurance, or the person who caused the accident had insurance that paid some or all of your medical bills, there are almost always uncovered costs.

Your uncovered losses may include: 

- Medical costs for treatment of the injury when it occurred.

- Costs to buy special equipment or even to modify your home to accommodate a disability.

- Costs for rehabilitation services which could be needed for months or even years.

- The cost of round-the-clock, long-term care provided in your home or at an assisted living facility.

- Costs for mental health treatment.

- Loss of income the person would have earned had they not been injured.

- Costs for your family to travel and visit the injured person.

- Non-economic costs, which are often lumped under the broad umbrella of “pain and suffering.”

Measuring the Non-Economic Costs of an Injury

An attorney can tally up the financial costs listed above, make future projections, and come up with an appropriate figure as compensation for those losses. However, the calculation of the value of non-economic losses is much more difficult. Some of the specific factors that need to be weighed include: 

- Is the person permanently disfigured or physically impaired, such as by an amputation or paralysis?

- Will they have to suffer through numerous surgeries over the years to try to restore their appearance and/or function?

- Is the injury such that it results in long-term pain to the victim? This is often the case in spinal cord injuries or when a part of the body, such as a leg, suffers multiple fractures or fragmentation.

- Has the person suffered severe emotional distress, perhaps from seeing friends or family killed in the same incident?

- Has the victim suffered from severe insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder?

- Are there beloved hobbies or activities that the person can no longer participate in as a result of the injury?

- Have family members of the victim suffered loss of consortium or companionship due to the victim’s injuries?

The more of these factors that you can prove, the more non-economic damages you may be able to recover. Documentation will be important to prove that these factors are real, including physician reports, medications prescribed, and your own personal documentation, such as a diary noting how the victim was feeling from day to day.

An attorney who has handled many personal injury cases will likely have developed their own formula, or chosen useful formulas developed by others, to translate these non-economic costs into a dollar figure to cite in the lawsuit. One common method is to apply a multiplier to the total financial damages. For example, if the victim and family’s financial losses totaled $500,000, you might triple that figure and claim an additional $1.5 million for non-economic losses. The multiplier, of course, would depend on the severity of the injury suffered and the extent of the non-economic losses. 

Is There a Legal Cap on “Pain and Suffering” Damages in Illinois?

The Illinois legislature passed a law in 2005 to limit awards for non-economic losses in medical malpractice cases to $500,000 for physicians and $1,000,000 for hospitals. However, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court subsequently ruled that law unconstitutional. Thus, Illinois currently places no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for non-economic losses.  

Consult a Rolling Meadows Personal Injury Attorney 

If you are wondering whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit, consult an experienced Palatine personal injury lawyer. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC will determine the best legal strategy for your case and fight aggressively to see that you are compensated for your losses. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

pain and suffering, Rolling Meadows personal injury attorneyWhile advances in technology have greatly improved vehicle safety, severe injuries still occur in automobile accidents. When an individual’s injuries are the result of the fault of another person, it is possible for that individual to file a personal injury lawsuit. A difficult, but important, part of a personal injury damage award to determine is an individual’s pain and suffering.

What is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a form of non-economic damage, which means, unlike a person’s medical bills, for example, it is not readily quantifiable. Pain and suffering may be requested as part of a personal injury claim, in addition to other claims, such as medical expenses. Critically, an individual has two years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit, which is known as the statute of limitations. There are two forms of pain and suffering: physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering involves a person’s actual physical injuries, like pain or discomfort.

Mental pain and suffering involves the negative emotions that are connected with physical pain or the trauma associated with the accident and the injuries that result. These emotions may include, but are not limited to, mental anguish, emotional distress, fear, anger, humiliation, or anxiety. If the mental pain and suffering is severe enough, it may result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Because pain and suffering is subjective, it can be difficult to value. Different individuals will respond differently to injuries and trauma they experience. As a result of the subjective nature of valuing pain and suffering, it is common that the judge will not have specific guidelines to give to the jury. In Snover v. McGraw, the Supreme Court of Illinois held that, “an award for pain and suffering is not as readily calculable…and jurors must draw on their real-life experiences in making an award.” As a result, it is critical to present as much evidence as possible to best convey to the jury the pain and suffering endured.

One way to determine the value of pain and suffering is to multiply the total medical bills and lost earnings (known as actual or special damages) by some factor, usually between 1.5 and four. For example, if an individual’s actual damages are $50,000 and the multiplier is two, the pain and suffering award would be $100,000. The multiplier is usually determined after considering various factors, such as the severity and long-term health consequences of injuries sustained.

There are some other factors that can affect a plaintiff’s pain and suffering award, including:

  • - Whether the plaintiff is credible and likeable;
  • - Whether the plaintiff’s testimony relating to his or her injuries remains consistent; and
  • - Whether the opinion of the plaintiff’s physician supports the plaintiff’s claims of pain and suffering.

An accident can be a frightening ordeal, even if no injuries result. If you have been involved in an accident caused by another person that resulted in harm to you, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC provides representation to individuals located in the northwest suburbs, including Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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