If you were injured in an accident due to the negligence of another person, you deserve compensation for the pain and suffering that resulted from your injuries. Following your injury, it is likely that you will hear from the insurance company of the negligent party with a settlement offer. Not only do insurance companies cover economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, but they will also cover non-economic damages including pain and suffering. The Reiff Law Firm explains how much insurance companies will pay for pain and suffering in Pennsylvania.
What qualifies Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering falls under the non-economic category of damages, in that it cannot be calculated easily like that of lost wages or medical bills. It is usually characterized by physical discomfort and mental anguish that an injured plaintiff suffers due to the negligence of another. This can include aches and pains in the body, scarring, depression or emotional trauma, limitations on activities, reduction in quality of life, shortening of life, future pain and suffering, and humiliation and embarrassment. Nonetheless, it is mostly subjective, and the value changes from person to person.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?
Since pain and suffering is largely subjective, it is difficult to predict how much you may recover from your injuries. Coverage for pain and suffering falls under “bodily injury liability”, and the insurance company has a policy limit that indicates the maximum amount they will pay for any damages. Typically, insurance companies use set formulas to determine the amount of pain and suffering. They can do this in one of two ways. The first and most common way that an insurance company will measure pain and suffering is to add up the injured party’s medical bills and lost wages and multiply by a number falling between 1-5. The number that the insurance company chooses to multiply by will depend on the nature and the severity of your injuries. Usually, soft tissue injuries will fall anywhere between 1 and 3, while hard injuries can be worth 4 or 5 times the amount of your medical bills. The second way that an insurance company may calculate pain and suffering is by establishing an amount per diem until full recovery and adding it up.
Since each insurance company may have their own method of calculating pain and suffering, the amount can vary drastically depending on the insurance company. There can be cases in which their calculations reasonably compensate for your pain and suffering, but it is rare. Insurance companies are notorious for using the lowest possible monetary value in their calculations and they rarely know the outcome of your injuries on your life. Furthermore, insurance companies are for-profit companies that attempt to maximize their profits by reducing any settlement amounts. It is likely that the settlement offer will not sufficiently meet your needs nor will it provide you with proper compensation for the full extent of your injuries. Thus, it is wise to hire an experienced Philadelphia injury attorney to assist in the settlement negotiations to ensure that you will not be ripped off.
Factors Influencing Insurance Settlements
There are a multitude of factors that impact the amount an insurance company will pay for pain and suffering in a settlement. According to research conducted by Northwestern University School of Law, the relevant factors include the cost algorithm, pain and suffering policies, the severity of injuries, and local laws surrounding pain and suffering.
The cost algorithm aforementioned above refers to the computer program utilized to place a value on pain and suffering, typically the amount of your medical bills multiplied by a factor of 1-5. Insurance companies may or may not offer specific pain and suffering policies, and if you have one, it may determine how much they will pay. The severity and permanence of your injury is perhaps the most important factor affecting insurance settlements. The amount for pain and suffering will change based on how severe your injury is. For example, if you are left with permanent scars, you may feel embarrassed or humiliated, or experience emotional distress, likely leading to a higher payout than some kind of injury that heals and allows for full recovery. If your insurance policy explicitly covers the type of injury you sustain, that will also determine the payout. Your insurance company may also consider your medical treatment when considering a value, and it is probable that long-lasting treatments will result in a higher payout.
Knowing What is Fair
Determining how much you deserve for pain and suffering following an injury is highly subjective and a major area of disagreement in the settlement process. The first thing to note is that when insurance companies make the first offer, it is typically the lowest possible amount, as insurance companies tend to minimize settlement payouts in order to maximize their profits. It is probably wise not to accept the first offer, and to negotiate for an amount you believe will fully compensate for the pain and suffering you endured. In order to ensure you receive the best settlement possible, it is essential to hire a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney.
In order to guarantee the best deal possible, you can increase your leverage by collecting evidence with your experienced attorney. Documentation of your medical records, treatment plans, and medical bills will be the primary evidence to help you negotiate for a higher settlement amount. Photographs of your injuries, as well as a copy of the final police report related to the incident where you incurred the injury, will aid in this process. Finally, having the opinion of medical experts or behavioral specialists can also help prove the extent of your pain and suffering.
Call Our Law Firm for a Free Consultation
If you sustained an injury due to the carelessness of another party, you deserve to receive full compensation for any pain and suffering that you endured. Insurance companies, being for-profit companies, will attempt to limit the amount they payout to the best of their ability, so it is incredibly important that you seek the expert advice of a personal injury lawyer that can aid in the negotiation process to ensure you receive full compensation. Call our law firm today at 215-709-6940 to set up a free consultation.