Pain and suffering is a legal term that includes injuries you may have experienced as the result of an accident. The term is used to address physical pain, but it also includes mental injuries, like grief, worry, insomnia, fear and loss of quality of life.
In personal injury cases, damage awards for pain and suffering varies widely, and juries viewing damages have more leeway in deciding what can be awarded. If you get into an accident, how can you show the juries, the insurance adjuster or a judge that you are really hurt and that you have suffered as much as you say you have?
Two Ways to Calculate Pain and Suffering
The amount awarded for pain and suffering can vary widely. Most attorneys calculate pain and suffering in two ways.
The first way is to multiply their client’s actual damages — like medical bills and lost wages — by a certain number. For example, if you break your leg in an accident and rack up $6,000 in medical bills, the attorney could multiply that amount by three and ask for $18,000 as a reasonable amount for pain and suffering.
The second way to determine pain and suffering damages is through per diem, a term that means per day. This method assigns a certain dollar amount to every day beginning on the day of the injury.
Proving pain and suffering, however, isn’t as cut and dried. The debate about pain and suffering awards is centuries old. Awards for pain and suffering go back as far as the Roman Empire’s delicts, which is similar to today’s tort system. Roman delicts were iniuria (injury to person) and damnum iniuria datum (damage to property). If a person was injured, that person had to prove he or she was intentionally wronged. While iniuria had to prove willful injury, damnum iniuria datum required proof of negligence. In medieval Europe, law required that a person be awarded pain and suffering for slander and libel, as well as shame.
The pain and suffering controversy continued into the 20th century. In the 1950s, the law community created the first legal scholarship to examine pain and suffering damages, and some advocated for limits on pain and suffering awards.
Oklahoma Limits Pain and Suffering
The debate continues today. In 2011, Oklahoma passed a law that caps damages in personal injury cases. Oklahoma caps non-economic damages like pain and suffering in civil injury cases to $350,000. The cap doesn’t include costs like medical care or lost wages, but it does limit the amount of pain and suffering damages asked.
If you suffer mental anguish, fear or loss of quality of life because of a personal injury or vehicle accident, speak with a qualified attorney about recovering non-economic damages. Personal injury attorneys are experienced with the sometimes confusing issue of pain and suffering claims and have the experience to negotiate a fair claims amount. The attorneys at Laird Hammons Laird are experienced with these types of claims and can help gather evidence and present your personal injury in a way that will benefit you. Call us today.