Personal injury recovery is a monetary award for damages caused by an accident or other personal injury. The award includes compensation for your economic damages, including lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and medical bills. However, a damages award also includes compensation for your “pain and suffering” or non-economic damages.
What Are Non-Economic Damages in an Illinois Personal Injury Case?
Non-economic damages represent the intangible losses you experience because of another party’s negligence or intentional acts. These damages include, but are not limited to:
Emotional Suffering and Mental Anguish
An accident and injury can cause a person to experience numerous symptoms of emotional suffering and mental anguish. Those symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Panic attacks
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Sleeping and eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Chronic headaches
Severe emotional distress can be just as debilitating as some physical injuries. For example, a person involved in a catastrophic car accident might have severe anxiety attacks each time they ride in a vehicle or hear emergency sirens.
Physical Pain and Suffering
An accident victim could experience substantial physical discomfort and pain from their injuries. Catastrophic injuries and injuries that require surgery are often excruciating. Physical therapy and recovery can also cause high levels of physical agony.
Scarring, Disfigurement, or Impairment
A personal injury or accident can cause disfigurement and scarring.
For example, a truck accident could result in the loss of a limb or amputation. A motorcycle accident could result in significant scarring from road rash. Defective products could cause scarring and disfigurement if they cause a fire.
Also, accident victims can sustain permanent impairments and disabilities. Some injuries could cause partial impairments, while other injuries may result in total and permanent disability.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
A loss of enjoyment of life can include the inability to participate in social functions and recreational activities. For example, the person may be unable to sit in a theater and watch a movie or attend a child’s school play because of their injuries.
Catastrophic and permanent impairments can result in a significant decrease in a person’s quality of life. They may be unable to care for their basic personal needs, such as bathing and dressing. The person may be unable to return to regular routines and activities because of their injuries.
Calculating the Value of Non-Economic Damages for a Personal Injury Claim
Putting a price on a person’s suffering is impossible. Every person is unique. Therefore, even similar injuries could result in a greater level of “pain and suffering” depending on the person’s health and life before the injury.
Attorneys, insurance companies, and jurors consider various factors when calculating the value of non-economic damages. Factors include:
- The type and severity of the injury
- Whether the person sustained a permanent impairment
- The duration of the person’s recovery
- The person’s health before and after the injury
- The quality of life before and after the injury
- The person’s appearance before and after the injury
- Whether the person can resume their normal activities
There is no standard formula for calculating pain and suffering damages. However, many insurance providers, lawyers, and juries use the multiplier method for determining non-economic damages.
After considering all factors relevant in the case, a number between 1.5 and five is chosen as the multiplier. Generally, the number increases as the severity of the injuries and damages increases. For example, a person who loses a leg in an accident would have a higher multiplier than a person who sustains whiplash and recovers fully from the injury.
The number is multiplied by the total of economic damages to calculate the value for pain and suffering. For instance, suppose a jury assigns three as a multiplier and awards $200,000 for economic damages. Then, the value of your non-economic damages would be $200,000 x 3 or $600,000.
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering Damages?
Proving non-economic damages can be challenging. Medical records can be used to explain the extent of your physical injuries. Medical specialists may testify how the injury limits or restricts your activities and the pain associated with the type of injury you sustained.
However, proving how you suffered emotionally and mentally is more complicated. Keeping a pain and suffering journal during your recovery can be helpful. Writing down specific instances and details of how your injuries impact your daily life, the level of pain you experience, and your mental state helps you provide details that “paint a picture” for the jurors or insurance adjusters.
Testimony from family members and friends can also be helpful. They explain how your injuries impacted your relationships and life.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With Our Naperville Personal Injury Lawyers
Our legal team analyzes your case to determine the full extent of all damages to recover the maximum amount for your injury claim. Contact our law firm the Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid to schedule a free consultation at (630) 428-4040 with one of our experienced Naperville personal injury attorneys.