How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case?

Pain and suffering varies from case to case. There are no caps to pain and suffering in Florida. With a skilled personal injury lawyer working on your case, you’ll be able to identify all potential damages you’re entitled to and seek a fair amount for them. In some cases, depending on how much you’ve suffered, pain and suffering damages can constitute a large amount of your total personal injury claim.

Non-Economic vs. Economic Damages in St. Petersburg

Not all damages in a personal injury claim will be easily quantified. Unlike economic damages that usually have receipts, records, bills, and other documentation to show the financial amount, non-economic damages require interpretation. Assessing these damages accurately and coming up with a fair value often require legal expertise to review the damages in context of the accident and other damages.

What Is Pain and Suffering in a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Claim?

Under Florida and St. Petersburg law, pain and suffering damages are considered non-economic damages. Unlike economic damages, which have calculable costs, pain and suffering damages don’t have specific monetary values. They include psychological and physical distress you suffered due to your accident injuries.

How Does St.Petersburg’s No-Fault Law Affect Pain and Suffering Damages?

The short answer is that it doesn’t. Physical pain and suffering refers to the distress you suffered due to accident injuries. No-fault applies to PIP insurance, which covers the first $10,000 of your medical bill. Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, your personal injury protection insurance will cover the initial cost of damages up to the policy limit (Florida Statute 627.730.)

Under Florida Statute 627.7407 all drivers in St. Petersburg must carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in their policy. In the event of an accident, your PIP covers medical fees and other accident related damages, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Even if the other driver is at fault, your PIP still covers the damages. However, if your damages exceed your PIP limits, you may need to file a personal injury claim for additional damage compensation. Injury victims in St. Petersburg must meet a certain injury threshold to be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim which can include pain and suffering damages.

Legal Threshold for a Serious Injury in St. Petersburg

According to Florida Statute 627.737, to meet the legal standard and qualify to make a personal injury claim for physical pain and suffering damages, the following criteria must be met:

  • You suffered a significant loss of bodily function
  • You suffered a permanent injury or disability
  • You experienced permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Your loved one died a wrongful death

Your attorney will help you by launching a thorough investigation and gather all the evidence needed to support your claim. This often requires working with other experts, such as medical professionals who can provide medical records and give testimony to reiterate the extent of your injuries.

Examples of Emotional Pain and Suffering Damages

Emotional pain and suffering damages are more abstract. Therefore, it can be helpful to have a legal professional working with you to assess and determine a fair value for emotional pain and suffering damages. Examples of emotional pain and suffering damages you may be entitled to include:

What Methods Are Used to Calculate Pain and Suffering?

The value of pain and suffering damages will differ from case to case. You’ll need to take into consideration the unique factors of your individual case to determine an appropriate value for your pain and suffering. While there’s no formula that fits all cases, there are two common methods that are used to achieve an estimate of pain and suffering.

The Per Diem Method

The per diem method is when you designate a daily value and multiply that by the number of days you suffered following the accident. For instance, suppose your “per diem” value is $300 and you need 180 days to reach maximum medical improvement. In that case, you would multiply $300 x 180 days and end up with $54,000. In this method, the amount or value of your economic damages is irrelevant.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is when you take the value of economic damages (medical bills, lost wages) and multiply it by a number to get pain and suffering damages. The multiplier number is based on the degree and severity of your pain and suffering.

For example, let’s say your economic damages are worth $30,000 and the court decides to use 4 as a multiplier based on the severity of your injury. $30,000 times 4 is $120,000, so the value of your non-economic damages would be $120,000. It’s not unusual for the non-economic damages award to be worth as much or more than the economic damages, especially when the injury victim has suffered catastrophic injuries or permanent disability.

How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?

With the help of a lawyer, you’ll know what evidence is necessary to support your claim and prove the extent of your pain and suffering. Some key questions your attorney will ready to ask in order to prove your pain and suffering and calculate a fair value include:

  • How severe are your injuries
  • Will there be a need for ongoing or long term medical treatment
  • Will you need physical therapy
  • How old you were at the time of the accident
  • Do you have any Pre-Existing medical conditions
  • What is the value of your economic losses

Here are some examples of evidence that can help you prove the extent of your pain and suffering.

  • Expert testimony, such as a medical professional to testify about the pain you’ve endured due to your injuries
  • Medical records
  • Any journals and personal accounts you’ve recorded of your suffering
  • Testimony from relatives or loved ones who live with you and witnessed your pain and suffering

Neutral third parties such as medical experts can offer convincing testimonies since they are not emotionally or personally involved in your injuries. Rather, they will give an objective, expert opinion on your injuries. Eye-witnesses and co-workers may also be able to provide objective testimony that serves as evidence.

What Kind of Accidents Cause Personal Injuries That Involve Pain and Suffering Damages?

St. Petersburg Limitations on Pain and Suffering Damages

St. Petersburg has some limits in place for pain and suffering damages. This is called the statute of limitations and in March 2023, it was limited to two years. The clock starts ticking on the day of the accident.

Pain and Suffering Damages Can Be a Sensitive Topic

If you wish to seek damages for pain and suffering, you need to be ready to share some personal details like how the injury has negatively impacted your life. It can be difficult for a person to share such personal details or admit how much they’ve suffered due to their injuries but it’s necessary for your case.

It may be easier to discuss physical limitations. Perhaps you are not able to attend social gatherings or participate in recreational hobbies like sports and other physical activities. Sometimes, a physical injury can interfere with one’s intimate life and trigger additional emotional complications like stress and anxiety. While these conversations are understandably difficult to have, it will be necessary to disclose these details for your case as they can affect your settlement award.

We understand that the recovery process is a long and difficult road and that’s why we are here to support you. We can offer legal guidance and support and be your advocate throughout the entire legal process, including communications with insurance companies and any court proceedings.

It’s important to share all of these relevant details of your pain and suffering with your attorney so they can paint an accurate and comprehensive picture of your damages. That way, they will also be able to justify the scope of damages you endured and claim for appropriate financial compensation accordingly.

Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Do not underestimate the value of your pain and suffering, it could be worth a lot more than you think. The best thing you can do to protect your rights and secure a full and fair financial compensation is hire a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.

You don’t have to suffer the consequences without recourse if someone else’s negligence has robbed you of comfort and peace of mind. Speak with our attorneys today to see if you are eligible for pain and suffering damages and how we can help you recover.

We offer a free initial consultation. Call us today or contact us online.