How to Negotiate Pain and Suffering in Pennsylvania
After a severe injury, you will most likely face a ton of medical bills and lost income. This is typically coupled with the emotional stress and pain that accompanies recovery. If you were hurt by another person’s recklessness or negligence, you should not be responsible for the damages you incur. Understanding your financial costs is easy, but how do you calculate or negotiate your pain and suffering damages?
Physical pain and emotional suffering are intangible damages that an injured victim is entitled to recover through a personal injury lawsuit. Proving these subjective damages is challenging but possible. If you are trying to avoid court and negotiate with an insurance company, you should also demand compensation for your pain and suffering in addition to your medical expenses and lost wages. Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys are available to provide the legal representation you need – whether you agree to a settlement or pursue your claim through the courts.
The Reiff Law Firm has spent decades litigating complex personal injury lawsuits and negotiating pain and suffering damages. Our Philadelphia personal injury attorney examines how to negotiate and calculate pain and suffering damages below in the following article. If you have any questions regarding pain and suffering damages, call our law offices at (215) 709-6940.
Are Insurance Settlements After an Injury in Pennsylvania Too Low?
It is common for an insurance company to contact an injured person if their injury resulted from another party’s negligent conduct. If there is no question of fault, then it is likely that the insurer will offer a settlement. In most cases, this amount is insufficient to compensate the injured person for the full extent of their financial losses and emotional harm.
If you are injured, you should not accept a settlement offer from an insurance company without speaking with our experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney. An insurance provider does not have your best interests in mind and is usually only concerned about its bottom line. A common tactic employed by insurance companies is to offer unreasonably low settlements in hopes an injured person will be compelled to accept. Once you take a settlement offer, you are generally prohibited from seeking further damages.
How Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in Pennsylvania
While calculating your financial losses is usually straightforward, quantifying your pain and suffering damages is more challenging. In most cases, an insurance company will use one of two methods to calculate them – the per diem method or the multiplier method. No matter what method is used, our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer will usually come up with a higher amount.
Under the per diem method, an insurance company will estimate the number of days you are expected to experience pain and multiply it by a daily rate. This method is usually terribly unfair if you have suffered a permanent disability as an insurance company will limit the estimated number of days. Additionally, the daily rate is typically unreasonably low and does not reflect the suffering you are experiencing.
The multiplier method begins by calculating your past and future medical expenses. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to estimate your future costs extremely low. That number will then be multiplied by a number between one and five to determine your pain and suffering compensation. The multiplier will usually factor in the severity of your injury, the evidence determining fault, and the potential length of recovery.
Using either method will result in a low approximation of what you should recover. Because of the intangible nature of pain and suffering, it is also difficult to tell if the offer is fair. Our Bucks County personal injury attorney will thoroughly evaluate your damages based on how you were uniquely affected by the injury.
How to Calculate and Negotiate the Real Pain and Suffering Damages in your Pennsylvania Injury Case
Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney understands that not everyone handles pain and suffering in the same way. Additionally, the same injury could have different impacts depending on the lifestyle of the victim. An insurance company usually does not have the evidence or the inclination to look too closely at the injured individual.
Your economic losses are usually rather straightforward and not open to much negotiation. Because pain and suffering damages are more intangible, there is a greater opportunity to negotiate the amount. After evaluating your claim based on the evidence, our office will send a demand letter to the insurance company. The evidence is not only being used to value your claim and negotiate with your insurance company – it is being used to prepare your personal injury lawsuit.
The demand letter will request an amount based on the information we have, along with a detailed description of the extent of your injuries and suffering. While this substantiates the nature of your injuries and serves as a foundation for the demand, it also puts the insurance company on notice that you are prepared to take your case to court.
The insurance company will then either agree to the new settlement amount, make a counter-offer, or ignore the demand letter. If we do each a figure you are comfortable with, your lawsuit will be filed with the appropriate court.
How Do You Prove Your Pain and Suffering Damages in Pennsylvania?
The strength of your demand letter or the case you will present before a judge or jury depends on the evidence you have linking your injury to the defendant’s conduct. Part of our job as your Norristown personal injury lawyers is to link your pain and suffering to your physical injury. Whenever you are discussing or asked a question regarding the physical injuries your sustained, it is critical to address the coinciding mental and emotional conditions.
Connecting your pain and suffering to your physical injuries forces the insurance company to acknowledge your damages and provides evidence a jury could rely on to compensate you for your physical pain and emotional suffering. When negotiating with an insurance company, providing proof of the connection will help maximize your settlement and let the insurer know that you have the ammunition to pursue your claim in court. When calculating pain and suffering damages, an insurer will rarely consider the injured victim. Rather, a multiplier is typically applied to your medical damages. For example, if you suffered a broken and arm and incurred $2,500 in medical costs, an insurer would multiply it by 2 to determine your pain and suffering award. In many cases, this number rarely reflects the amount of harm a person endured.
One of the key pieces of evidence is your own personal testimony. Your description of your life following an injury is critical in proving pain and suffering to an insurance company or jury. Depending on the course your case takes, you might have to provide a statement to our lawyers, the insurance company, or take a stand during a court proceeding. The important thing to remember, no matter how your testimony is given, is to thoroughly explain how the injury has impacted your daily life, the medical care you need, and the emotional toll it has taken.
While it might be difficult or embarrassing to speak about certain aspects of your life, such as your sex life, it is important to do so to describe the full negative effects of your injury. Our experienced Allentown personal injury attorneys will supplement your testimony with other evidence.
An expert witness is often required to provide a professional opinion. An expert will take complicated evidence and distill it for the jury or insurance company. A healthcare provider, psychologist, or psychiatrist can provide a professional framework to help the insurer or court understand your testimony. A qualified expert could also give their professional opinion regarding your symptoms and the effects of an injury. This is especially helpful when dealing providing evidence for the emotional and mental trauma associated with an injury that is not visible.
Photo and Video Evidence
Your life could be significantly altered after suffering a severe injury. The pain and physical limitations could restrict your ability to move or perform ordinary daily tasks. Some accident victims require assistance to eat or dress.
However, merely talking about the adverse of some injuries is not enough to paint a clear picture. If a jury is going to have any difficulties picturing the impact your injury is having on you, an insurance company is not going to be willing to settle for a fair amount. When words are not adequate to express the true impact of your injury, photographs and videos could provide supporting evidence. By presenting visual evidence, our Doylestown personal injury lawyers will help jurors understand how your life has been affected. An insurer also understands the effect of compelling visuals.
Victims of catastrophic or significant injuries might make a video showing what a day looks like after an accident. It could depict the difficulties of waking up and getting out o bed, getting to a doctor’s appointment, and managing tasks most people take for granted. If help from home healthcare professionals or family members is necessary, it should also be shown. Pictures and videos often provide some of the most moving and stunning evidence of pain and suffering.
What Does Your Pennsylvania Lawyer Do?
Gathering evidence is only part of the negotiation process. Our office will handle the negotiations for you, so you can concentrate on getting better. Insurance adjusters are professionals, handling hundreds of cases a year. They understand how to work the system and elicit the responses they want. Fortunately, our team of attorneys is also professionals. Claims adjusters look for small mistakes and windows of opportunity to reduce a settlement offer. With competent legal representation, you will know that those errors will not be made. Our sole goal is to maximize your compensation, whether it is through negotiation or litigation.
How Your Doctor Can Help Prove Pain and Suffering in Pennsylvania
While our firm has access to medical experts, your doctor’s opinion is a very persuasive piece of evidence. Because they treat you regularly, they could speak to your condition and physical abilities before the injury. Additionally, if they have been treating you since the accident occurred, they could provide a history of medical tests, appointments, and treatments that you have undergone. Their prognosis is also critical in determining the level of limitations and physical pain you will likely experience going forward. Your doctor provides a more personal diagnosis that the jury or insurance company could rely upon.
Trial Awards for Pain and Suffering vs. Insurance Settlements in Pennsylvania
In many cases, the amount you can recover after an injury is potentially higher at trial than through an insurance settlement. The benefits of a settlement include receiving your money faster and eliminating the risk of a trial. Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys are dedicated to securing the best compensation award possible. We will give you our professional assessment of the value of your claim and the strength of your case.
Call Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney to Help Negotiate Your Pain and Suffering Damages
When another individual’s negligent or reckless conduct results in your being seriously injured, you want to be made whole. This means recovering from both your financial losses and your emotional pain and suffering. Our West Chester personal injury attorney will assist you in valuing your injury claim. Additionally, our office will negotiate your pain and suffering damages with the insurance company. If a satisfactory agreement is impossible, we will take your case to trial. Call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation to value your pain and suffering damages.