Pain and Suffering Damages Calculation in Illinois
When individuals sustain injuries caused by the careless or negligent actions of others, they are often able to recover compensation for their losses. This compensation recovery can happen through an insurance settlement or as a result of a successful personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. One of the most challenging aspects of this process is adequately calculating non-economic damages, often referred to as pain and suffering damages.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
“Pain and suffering damages” is a phrase that you have likely heard, but you may not quite understand what it means. These types of losses are recoverable after a vehicle accident, but they are going to fall under the umbrella of non-economic damages (often referred to as general damages). These are considered compensable damages after a vehicle accident or any other type of injury occurs, but they are not the same as economic damages such as calculable medical bills and lost wages.
Non-economic damages revolve around more “unseen” and less calculable aspects of a vehicle accident, but these damages are nonetheless just as important. Some of the most common types of losses that are compensable under the non-economic damage umbrella include:
- Compensation for physical pain and suffering endured by an injury victim
- Compensation for emotional and psychological trauma caused by the incident and the injuries
- Loss of quality of life damages if a person is disabled
- Scarring and disfigurement damages
- Loss of consortium and companionship damages for family members or a spouse
How to Prove Pain and Suffering Damages
These claims can be immensely challenging, particularly when it comes to determining the value of various non-economic damages. The phrase “pain and suffering” may conjure up various meanings in people’s minds. However, pain and suffering can be defined when it comes to personal injury claims. Doing so involves examining various factors related to the victim’s life and how their life has been affected by the incident. Some of the various ways to prove pain and suffering damages in the eyes of the insurance carrier or a personal injury jury include:
- Providing all medical bills
- How long a review of current and pertinent medical records
- Providing photographs of injuries
- Turning over psychiatric and therapy records
- Showing time away from work
Providing evidence that a person has experienced various types of pain and suffering after an incident is crucial. By allowing insurance carriers or a personal injury jury to review medical and psychiatric records and by examining evidence of the injury, individuals may be more likely to recover the compensation they are entitled to for these types of losses.
Demonstrating pain and suffering involves showing how the injuries have affected the victim’s life. For example, individuals may have:
- A significant disruption to their day-to-day life
- Debilitating physical impairments
- Cognitive decline
- Mental or emotional distress
- Physical scarring, disfigurement, or deformity
There are certainly some injuries that will lead to a higher likelihood of a person securing non-economic pain and suffering damages. For example, individuals who sustain an injury that affects their cognitive abilities will be much more likely to recover pain and suffering damages than individuals who sustain road rash after a motorcycle accident. Some of the most common types of injuries that lead to extensive pain and suffering damages include:
- Spinal cord trauma with paralysis
- Amputations or severely deformed limbs
- Severe brain injury
- Loss of ability to effectively communicate
- Major burns over a part or all of the body
- Injuries that result in a loss of eyesight
- Injuries that impact a person’s fertility or reproductive organs
Calculating Non-Economic Damages in Illinois
Actually calculating pain and suffering damages in Illinois is more challenging than calculating economic losses. That is because there aren’t any direct bills or receipts that will typically come in to help prove these types of losses.
One of the most common methods an attorney will use to calculate non-economic damages in Illinois is called the “multiplier method.” Using this method, an attorney will add up all of the economic damages and multiply that total by a set number (typically a number ranging from 2 to 5).
For example, let us imagine a theoretical scenario where a car accident victim is awarded $250,000 in economic damages. If an attorney were to use a multiplier of three, this would mean that the non-economic damages requested would equal $750,000. Overall, an attorney would request $1 million in compensation for their client.
Another method that could be used to calculate non-economic damages is called the “per diem method.” Using this method, an attorney would assign a specific dollar value to every day that a person is expected to endure pain and suffering as a result of their injury. Let us suppose that it is decided that a person’s pain and suffering is worth $400 a day, and they are expected to experience this pain and suffering for two years (730 days). Using this method, the total non-economic damages would equal $292,000 (by multiplying 730 by $400).
We strongly encourage any individual who sustains an injury caused by the actions of another party to work with an attorney who can help adequately calculate all of their expected losses.
Why Having a Lawyer is Important
If you or a loved one have sustained an injury that has affected your day-to-day life in any way, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. When you work with a skilled personal injury lawyer, you will have an advocate ready to step in and help you recover the compensation you need. An attorney will investigate the incident, properly calculate economic losses, and work to help calculate more immeasurable pain and suffering damages.
An attorney can help gather the records and evidence needed to prove your pain and suffering damages. However, it is important to file your claim as soon as possible. The personal injury statute of limitations for Illinois is two years from the date an injury occurs. Failing to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party within this time frame will likely result in a dismissal of the case. If a case gets dismissed, individuals will be unable to recover compensation, including coverage of their pain and suffering damages.