Whether it be a motor vehicle wreck or a fall on someone else’s property, being involved in an accident can result in more than just physical injuries. Pain and suffering damages are often a significant part of the award in a personal injury case, and they are meant to account for those injuries that can’t be seen with an X-ray or MRI. So, how do pain and suffering damages impact a personal injury settlement?
In this article, we’ll explore what pain and suffering damages are, how they impact your case, and what role the insurance company plays in determining the amount you’ll receive.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
In a personal injury case, damages are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include things like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. They are easy expenses to quantify because they have a dollar value.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refer to damages that are not as easily quantifiable, such as physical pain and psychological distress. These factors will differ in severity and duration from person to person and from situation to situation, and it may seem impossible to put a number on the internal damage an accident has done. However, you’ll see that insurance companies have a variety of methods they may employ to calculate the compensation deserved for pain and suffering.
Physical pain is perhaps the most common form that pain and suffering damages take.
Examples include broken bones, burns, cuts, bruises, and disfigurement. While some of these may be addressed in part by compensation for medical bills, they all have the added cost of affecting your quality of life.
This type of damage should also be accounted for in your final settlement because it cuts just as deep as the financial losses. Being open and honest about the effects the pain has had on your life and your ability to live it fully is vital to getting a fair settlement, so your attorney will help you tell your story in a way that truly reflects the difficulty of your experiences.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
In addition to physical pain, accidents can also result in mental injuries and illnesses.
Examples include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experiencing less enjoyment in life, and loss of consortium (loss of an intimate relationship). These conditions can impact the injured party’s daily life and activities and may require ongoing treatment
WHERE DOES THE INSURANCE COMPANY COME IN?
The insurance company is the main entity determining the amount of damages awarded for pain and suffering. In Colorado, insurance companies are required to cover both economic and non-economic damages.
Proving non-economic damages can be more difficult than proving economic damages because they often account for “invisible” injuries. For this reason, insurance companies typically use multiple factors to assess the claim’s value. Some of the most common factors that insurers may consider include:
SEVERITY AND TYPE OF INJURIES
Insurance companies will consider the nature and extent of the injuries suffered by the claimant, including the diagnosis, prognosis, and duration of treatment.
IMPACT ON DAILY LIFE
The insurer will consider the impact that the injuries have had on the claimant’s daily life, including the ability to perform regular activities, care for themselves or their family, or participate in hobbies or other recreational activities.
The insurer will consider the emotional and psychological impact of the injuries, including anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
The insurer will consider any pre-existing medical conditions that may have been exacerbated by the injuries and the impact of the injuries on the claimant’s pre-existing conditions.
In some cases, pain and suffering damages may actually be calculated by multiplying the economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) by a certain number to arrive at a rough estimate of the total value of their non-financial losses.
Insurance companies typically use a formula or software program to calculate pain and suffering damages, which takes into account the factors listed above. The specific formula or program used may vary from insurer to insurer, though, and there is often some degree of discretion involved in the final amount of damages awarded.
Colorado has caps, or limits, on the amount of damages you may be able to recover for pain and suffering, and these caps will vary depending on the circumstances of your case.
To be sure you’re getting the maximum amount you’re owed and to understand where the damages would be capped in your case, consult with a local and knowledgeable Colorado injury lawyer who can assess your case and give honest advice.
Pain and suffering damages are an important aspect of a personal injury case in Colorado. Whether you have suffered physical pain, mental and emotional distress, or both, it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.