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What Damages Are Available for Pain and Suffering?

If you file a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for financial compensation (damages) not only for your medical bills and other costs brought on by an accident but also for the pain and suffering you endured. In the civil justice system, these are known as “non-economic” or “non-pecuniary” damages, and they can include a variety of intangible losses.

Physical Pain and Suffering

The goal of a personal injury claim is to make an injured victim – referred to as the plaintiff – whole again after an accident that was caused by someone else’s failure to use the correct amount of care (negligence). Being made whole may include making up for the physical pain and suffering the victim had to go through because of the injury, including chronic pain.

Emotional Distress 

Our Pittsburgh car accident lawyers know that many accidents take an emotional toll on those involved. A car accident, for example, can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – a psychiatric condition that can occur in people who have lived through or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD can result in symptoms such as chronic anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia and depression. Any emotional distress, mental anguish or psychological trauma experienced by a victim could result in pain and suffering damages.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If an accident inflicts long-term or permanent damage, the victim may qualify for compensation for “loss of enjoyment of life.” This legal term refers to the negative impact an injury has had on the victim’s life. This may include debilitating injuries that affect the victim’s ability to work or participate in favorite hobbies, as well as significant scarring or disfigurement that impact the victim’s self-esteem or self-worth.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium refers to the loss of personal benefits that one spouse experiences due to injury or death to the other spouse. If a serious spine injury results in sexual dysfunction, for example, loss of consortium can include impaired intimacy within the marital relationship. Deprivation of companionship, support, love and affection can all fall under the umbrella of loss of consortium.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated? 

Pain and suffering damages are difficult to calculate. They do not come with specific numbers or dollar amounts as economic damages do. Rather than relying on medical bills and other clear evidence, insurance companies and the courts must carefully assess numerous intangible factors, such as the severity of the victim’s injuries and how much they have impacted the victim’s life. 

In Pennsylvania, insurance companies often use their own pain and suffering calculators to determine fair settlement values. In a case where a policyholder is clearly at fault for a claimant’s injury, an insurance company will most likely pay something in pain and suffering damages. However, the exact amount allotted is typically a one-size-fits-all number and is not specified in settlement documents.

As any accident victim knows, pain and suffering look different for each person. If an insurance company does not offer a fair settlement value, the case can proceed to court, where a judge or jury may assign a higher amount in pain and suffering. A common equation used is the Multiplier Method, where the courts take the victim’s full amount of economic damages and multiply it by a number between 0.5 and 5, chosen based on injury severity. 

If you are curious how much you may be eligible to receive in pain and suffering damages as an accident victim in Pittsburgh, contact the Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys at Dallas W. Hartman P.C., Attorneys at Law to request a free case evaluation.

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