How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated After an Accident?
Ryan Zavodnick | January 23, 2020 | Car Accidents
After experiencing an accident, you may have both physical and mental injuries. These may not be harms that are easy to calculate. Rather, they may be things like a lower quality of life, humiliation, disfigurement, PTSD, depression, or severe anxiety caused by the accident. In personal injury claims, you may be able to seek compensation for these injuries under the concept of pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is the term used to describe both the physical and emotional distress that results from an injury. It is claimed in court by the victim as a way to obtain monetary damages from the parties responsible for the injuries. There are two types of pain and suffering that a person can claim in court: physical and mental.
Physical pain and suffering refer to the injuries or pain that was physically caused by the incident. It includes all of the injuries that the person sustained because of the accident in the past. It can also include future physical pain and suffering that the person is likely to suffer in the future.
Mental pain and suffering refer to the by-product of physical pain and suffering. It is the injuries that cannot be seen but are real. These include emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, and anger. Like physical pain and suffering, mental effects can be both past, current, and future impacts caused by the accident.
Types of physical pain and suffering can include disfigurement, broken bones, scarring, or permanent disability. Mental pain and suffering can encompass many things like PTSD, severe anxiety or depression, intrusive flashbacks, or lapses in the victim’s life because of the emotional toll it has taken on the person.
Damages Available in Philadelphia Personal Injury Cases
Damages are a sum of money that a victim can get as it relates to an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. There are two main types: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to offset the injury caused. This can be a physical or mental injury. Punitive damages are intended to punish the guilty party. In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are usually only awarded if a defendant’s conduct is malicious, willful, wanton.
Compensatory damages are also divided into economic and non-economic. Economic damages include monetary amounts that can be easily calculated like hospital bills, vehicle repair, or lost wages from work. Non-economic damages are harder to calculate because they are intangible losses. In Pennsylvania, non-economic loss is defined as pain and suffering and all other non-monetary losses caused by the accident.
Pain and suffering can be difficult to assess. Each state has its own method of calculating the amount of money a victim can receive for pain and suffering. The amount is always based on a case-by-case basis. For example, if two people suffered the exact same injury from the exact same type of car accident, they may have completely different pain levels; one may develop PTSD while the other only develops mild anxiety.
Pain and Suffering Damages in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, pain and suffering can be claimed in most personal injury cases. The damages are determined using specific calculations. However, there is no exact formula that is used. Rather, courts look at several aspects of the claimant and the accident, and then calculate the pain and suffering based on the severity of each factor.
The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is generally two years for personal injury claims. This means that you need to file your case and make your claim within two years of your injury. To prove pain and suffering, you will generally need to appeal to a jury or judge and provide evidence including medical records and testimony.
Some factors that are looked at by the court when determining the extent of pain and suffering a victim can claim include the following:
- The age of the person
- The type of injury
- The severity of the injury
- The length of time needed to recover from the injury
- Whether there is permanent disability or disfiguration
- The impact your injuries and the accident have on your well-being and mental health
- What emotional trauma you suffer, both directly after the incident and in the long-term
It could also be possible to avoid court and receive a settlement for your pain and suffering. In these cases, the guilty party will usually reach out with a settlement offer that will include a monetary payment for your pain and suffering. If you accept the amount or negotiate with them to a sum you are satisfied with, it is possible to end your case without ever having to appear before a jury or judge.