Pain and suffering damages can be a crucial part of recovering from a personal injury and achieving a sense of justice. In this article, we explore what pain and suffering damages are, how they are assessed, and how much money these damages are worth.
Pain and Suffering Damages
In personal injury cases, non-economic damages are designed to compensate the victim for losses that cannot be easily quantified, such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. Pain and suffering damages are a type of non-economic damages awarded to compensate a person for the physical and emotional harm they suffered as a result of another party’s negligence or intentional actions.
Pain and suffering damages refer to the physical and emotional harm a person has suffered as a result of a personal injury.
Types of Pain & Suffering Damages
There are several types of pain and suffering damages, including:
- Permanent Impairment: A physical impairment that has a lasting impact on a person’s ability to function.
- Physical Disability: A physical limitation that prevents a person from performing certain tasks or activities.
- Disfigurement: A physical change that alters a person’s appearance, such as permanent scars or deformities.
- Emotional Trauma: Psychological harm that results from a personal injury, such as anxiety, grief, terror, fright, shock, humiliation, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and embarrassment.
- Loss of Love and Affection: The impact a personal injury has on a person’s ability to maintain close relationships with family and friends.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
Calculating pain and suffering damages can be a complex process, as there is no objective way to measure the impact of a personal injury on a person’s life. Factors that are considered when determining pain and suffering damages may include the severity of the injury, the length of the recovery period, and impact the injury has on the person’s daily life, and the level of negligence or intentional action on the part of the responsible party. Methods of calculating pain and suffering damages may include using a multiplier based on the amount of economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages), or by considering similar cases and the amount of pain and suffering damages awarded in those cases.
Challenges of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
One of the main challenges in calculating pain and suffering damages is the lack of objective measures to determine the amount of compensation a person should receive. Unlike economic damages, which can be easily quantified based on receipts, invoices, and other forms of documentation, pain and suffering damages rely heavily on subjective factors such as a person’s emotions, psychological state, and quality of life
Another challenge in calculating pain and suffering damages is the lack of consistency in the process. Pain and suffering damages may vary widely depending on the jurisdiction, judge, and jury involved in the case. This can lead to a lack of predictability and make it difficult to assess the amount of pain and suffering damages a person may be able to recover.
Strategies Used to Increase Compensation
Negotiating higher pain and suffering damages can be difficult, but there are several strategies that can be used to increase the amount of compensation a person receives. These strategies may include:
- Presenting evidence of the impact of the injury on the person’s life
- Using expert witnesses to demonstrate the severity of the injury
- Engaging in aggressive negotiation tactics to push for a higher settlement.
Demonstrating Pain and Suffering
It is essential for victims of personal injury to keep a record of their physical and emotional distress. This can include the following:
- Keep all medical records related to injuries from the accident;
- Keep all medical, treatment, therapy, and surgery bills;
- Take photographs of injuries, limited mobility, and any other documentation of the severity of the injuries;
- Keep all receipts for medical devices, such as wheelchairs, slings, splits, casts, walkers, canes, as well as prescriptions, medications, and any other items purchased for healing;
- Keep documentation to demonstrate lost work as well as overdue bills a person is unable to pay due to the financial burdens of not working;
- Get testimonials or affidavits from friends and family members discussing how the accident and injuries impacted a person’s life from their perspective.
By keeping detailed records, victims of personal injury can better demonstrate the extent of their pain and suffering and increase their chances of receiving fair compensation.
Keep a Medical Journal
It is also a good idea to keep a journal containing specific information about doctor’s appointments, physical therapy. Medical procedures, circumstances surrounding surgeries, and any other dated details of how treatment needs have impacted a person’s daily life. Each journal entry should account for the following:
- Dates and times of doctor’s appointments
- Names of any physician or specialist consulted
- Treatment and rehabilitation prescribed
- Medications prescribed and taken
- Medical tests performed
- Examples of the way an injury impacts a person’s life
Keep a Personal Injury Journal
The last example is important. A personal injury journal should include entries about the pain and suffering a person experienced and any limitations that result from such damages. Descriptions should be extensive and focused on the pain a person experiences, the area of the body where the pain happens, the severity of the pain, and how often the pain occurs. If possible, a journal entry should also state how a person’s injury prevented them from living a functional and independent life, along with the accompanying suffering.
Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions may impact the amount of pain and suffering damages. For example, if a person had a previous injury that was aggravated by the personal injury, they may not be able to recover the full amount of pain and suffering damages they would have received if they had no pre-existing conditions. However, it is still possible for people with pre-existing conditions to recover some amount of pain and suffering damages if they can demonstrate that their condition was worsened by the personal injury.
Caps on Pain and Suffering Damages in Colorado
Colorado law allows recovery for pain and suffering. While there is no cap on economic damages, there is a limit on the amount recoverable for non-economic pain and suffering damages. In 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law Senate Bill 19-109, which raised the caps on recoverable non-economic damages to account for inflation through 2022. This was the first time the caps have been raised since 2008. While pain and suffering damages continue to be capped, the cap was raised for inflation on January 1, 2020 and adjusted every January 1st through 2023. Current caps on pain and suffering damages in Colorado are $642,180.00.
Talk to an Attorney About Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages are complicated but can also be a significant part of the overall compensation a personal injury victim is entitled to. While these damages can be challenging to quantify, by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer and keeping detailed records of the impact of the injury on your life, you can increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.
Contact Bowman Law’s personal injury law attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your case and to get a realistic idea of how much you may be owed. Our personal injuries law firm serves Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins and the surrounding areas.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.