How Florida defines and awards compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and other non-economic damages
Car crash claims in Tampa, Florida typically consist of specific financial elements that are standard when accident cases are being settled. The primary economic recovery elements will include physical property loss, recovery for medical bills and lost wages when the injured claimant cannot work due to the injuries.
Other expenses can be included as well, but most of those are for case particulars such as being sent to third-party or independent doctors for a second opinion on the extent of injury. This is not uncommon in cases involving catastrophic injuries that could have long-term and costly consequences.
These types of medical expenses and other economic damages are typically included under every Florida driver’s PIP insurance policy. However, in the most serious car crash claims involving permanent injury, death and severe emotional trauma, accident victims must file a personal injury lawsuit to recover these costs.
One common example of non-economic damages that isn’t covered under PIP is “pain and suffering.”
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering can include a wide variety of factors. While it is relatively known that certain injuries will result in a lifetime of pain and limited mobility, there are other seemingly smaller injuries that will grow worse as well.
Pain and suffering can also include any physical or mental imposition an injury makes on the life of the claimant going forward, including rendering them disabled or disability eligible. Emotional anguish is a component of pain and suffering, and while this type of injury can be devastating, it may be difficult to evaluate financially.
Pain and suffering damages are considered non-economic compensatory damages by the court, and therefore it can be challenging to put a dollar figure on the future impact of the claimed injuries. All ongoing medical issues can be part of any general damages claim in any accident based on the extent and seriousness of the claimed injuries.
Proving pain and suffering in a car accident claim
Just as with any component of a car accident claim, the plaintiff’s legal counselor must prove the extent of injury and the ultimate life impact the injuries will have on the accident victim. The accident victim’s attorney must establish that their client’s injury is serious enough that it will last a significant amount of time, if not the remainder of the injured party’s life, and create quantifiable financial struggles during that period.
Examples of serious injuries include any condition that makes it impossible for the victim to fully recover to the original state they were in before the accident occurred. Catastrophic injuries such as paralysis and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), for instance, typically result in significant general damages.
When it comes to winning a pain and suffering claim, the most important evidence used is usually the long-term prognosis of the treating physician, along with an analysis regarding the extent of injury.
How is pain and suffering calculated?
There are multiple methods attorneys use to calculate pain and suffering damages. Because each case is unique, there is no set formula that applies to all cases.
One method is the multiplication factor. Many times courts will assess general damages based on the value of special economic damages claimed by financial documentation, such as medical bills and lost wages. They will then multiply the quantifiable economic damages by a determined number (usually ranging from 1-5) to calculate how much pain and suffering damages should be awarded.
Another way to calculate pain and suffering after a car accident is the per diem allowance method, which calculates the damages for a year and then applies the number of years the injury impact is expected to last.
Pain and suffering damages are typically calculated by taking into account the following factors:
- The plaintiff’s age
- The severity of the injury
- The potential for ongoing problems
- Pre-existing conditions
- Activities that cause pain
- Pain levels on a daily basis
Contact an experienced Tampa car crash injury lawyer
It’s important for all injured accident claimants to remember that pain and suffering damages are just one element of a claim that should make them whole financially. You only have one opportunity at financial justice after a car accident.
The complex negotiations regarding pain and suffering are a large part of why you may need a skilled attorney to represent your case. Tampa, Florida residents should consult an aggressive accident law firm like Tragos, Sartes & Tragos for comprehensive representation.
Contact Tragos, Sartes & Tragos today for your free consultation.