How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Virginia?

Common methods of calculating pain and suffering in Virginia include using medical bills, regional averages, or personal and professional testimony.

“Pain and suffering” and inconvenience calculations are an inherently complex area of law. Insurance claims and civil settlements use several different approaches to calculate and pay pain and suffering and inconvenience damages. Insurers may rely on historical data to determine your damages or turn to another method. The truth is, there’s no method that’ll apply to every case.

How Insurers Calculate Pain and Suffering Versus How Your Lawyer Will

There are a few types of “pain and suffering” and inconvenience calculations that might be used by insurers, lawyers, or a jury in your case. Most of the time, insurance companies will do everything they can to undervalue your suffering to avoid a significant payout. Their methods are representative of that.

Here are a few ways “pain and suffering” and inconvenience is calculated in personal injury cases:

Medical Costs

Using medical costs for the basis of “pain and suffering” and inconvenience calculations is straightforward. This method looks at a victim’s economic costs and puts it through a formula to arrive at an estimate. Both attorneys and insurers commonly use this approach.

There are several consequences (good and bad) to relying on medical costs, including:

  • It’s more straightforward than other methods
  • It avoids guesswork
  • It makes the insurer feel like they have wiggle room to adjust your estimate, so they will start low

Using Regional Statistics

When insurance companies reach out, they will often cite averages or regional payout statistics in their settlement offer. A lawyer would tell you that there is no “average” settlement because each case is unique.

With Personal Records and Testimony

You and your healthcare providers know better than insurance adjusters how your accident has affected your life. A lawyer will use personal documentation and testimony to show a jury the extent of the consequences you’ve endured as a result of the accident. Some examples of these kinds of records include:

  • Written accounts of personal pain and mental and emotional struggles, such as a journal
  • Financial records of inconveniences you suffer because of the accident, including costs of public transport, rideshare services, or delivery services
  • Mental health records from your therapist or psychiatrist
  • Proof of decreased productivity or impact on career performance
  • Testimony from medical professionals or other experts about what your condition must be like, changes in your life before and after the accident, etc.

Which Approach Will Be Used in My Case?

As has been previously mentioned, each personal injury case is unique so the methods of calculating your “pain and suffering” and inconvenience will differ. However, having an attorney can protect you against the methods insurance companies use to devalue your suffering.

Why Is Calculating “Pain and Suffering” and Inconvenience So Difficult?

There are two kinds of damages in a personal injury action. Economic damages are fairly easy to calculate so long as the documentation exists to estimate your losses. However, your non-economic damages don’t come with such clear documentation. Here is an overview of each type of damage:

  • Economic damages: Economic damages cover the financial toll of your accident. This involves medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages. These damages are tied directly to your expenses after an accident.
  • Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages deal with the mental, emotional, and long-term physical fallout of your accident. This covers trauma and distress as well as long-term physical pain and impairment.

Economic damages are straightforward. To calculate these, an insurer or your lawyer can review your receipts, invoices, and paystubs. They can tally your economic losses together to arrive at a final damages estimate.

Non-economic damages are where things get complicated. Assigning a dollar value to “pain and suffering” and inconvenience isn’t easy. Legal scholars have hotly debated the best approach to this issue. For this reason, there are many different approaches. If you’re unsure about which method might most benefit your case, a personal injury lawyer can answer your questions.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Get Fair Compensation?

As you can probably tell, calculating “pain and suffering” and inconvenience damages is complicated. There are several methods an insurer or jury might use to estimate the value of your case. A personal injury lawyer can help you make sense of these approaches. In addition, they can:

  • Communicate with insurers on your behalf
  • Negotiate for your most favorable settlement outcome
  • Answer your tough legal questions
  • Advise you on settlement offers
  • Litigate, if necessary, and represent you in court
  • File all documentation according to legal requirements

The aftermath of a serious accident can be difficult for one person to manage alone. Victims often experience financial hardship which may make legal action feel like an unwanted burden. A personal injury lawyer can shoulder this burden for you. With the help of a lawyer, you can focus on your recovery instead of worrying about the specifics of your case.

A Lawyer Can Assist You With Your Deadlines

Personal injury cases in Virginia are time-sensitive. After an accident, you have two years to file a lawsuit, per Va. Code § 8.01-243. This deadline could be longer or shorter depending on the type of case you’re filing.

Filing quickly will provide you and your lawyer with more time to build a case. A Virginia personal injury lawyer can ensure that you stay on top of the statute of limitations.

Call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC to Start Your Personal Injury Case

Jim Parrish, our lead attorney, understands insurance companies. Why? He used to work as their legal representative. This experience means he knows what methods insurers use to calculate “pain and suffering” and inconvenience and how unrepresentative these estimates are of what real people go through after an accident.

A member of our team would happily answer your questions about this part of your case during a free case evaluation. Contact our offices to get started. 

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