If you were injured in a car accident or similar personal injury event, the court may award you money to compensate your pain and suffering.
However, courts and juries don’t have a simple way to calculate that number.
Instead, any damages for pain and suffering will vary based on complex subjective factors, as well as the recommendations of the lawyers involved.
In this article, we’ll talk more about how Virginia juries allocate damages for pain and suffering.
We’ll also go over a few examples of how pain and suffering settlements work.
Pain and Suffering Laws in Virginia
In most Virginia personal injury cases, you can seek compensation for several different types of damages.
Four of the most common are:
- Medical expenses.
- Damage to your property.
- Lost wages (and any future lost wages).
- Pain and suffering incurred as a direct result of the accident.
The first three types are relatively easy to figure out, since they’re tied to specific bills or financial information.
However, pain and suffering can include both physical and emotional damage resulting from the accident.
For this reason, assigning a specific monetary value to a pain and suffering claim can be a long and difficult process.
Why Pain and Suffering is Harder to Calculate
It’s important to note that there is no easy formula for calculating pain and suffering damages.
Instead, insurance companies will use statistical data to find the best settlement range that will work in your individual case.
Their modeling systems will take many individual elements into account.
However, at their core, these calculations serve one primary purpose.
Namely, the insurance company is trying to pay you the smallest possible award that they believe (1) you are likely to accept instead of fight in court, and (2) a jury would likely accept if you choose to challenge the insurance company’s settlement.
“Pain and suffering,” then, is not a concrete amount of money like a medical bill or a quote for your car.
Instead, pain and suffering refers to the monetary amount that a jury is likely to award in your specific state, county, or town.
It is a purely subjective estimate based on historical data for your location.
It can even vary based on the lawyer or doctor you hire, since insurance companies keep track of that information as well.
Proving a Pain and Suffering Claim
Once you have a basic idea of how much you want to ask for in pain and suffering damages, you must prove that you experienced that much pain and suffering.
You can use several different types of evidence to do so, though the specifics will largely depend on the details of your case.
Proving pain is typically easier than proving mental anguish and emotional suffering.
However, you should still collect as much of the following evidence as you can:
- Photographs of your injuries as they heal over time.
- Medical records that document the extent of your injuries.
- Pharmaceutical bills, especially for painkillers.
- Expert testimony from your doctor about your injuries.
- Your own testimony, or that of family members.
- A journal recording every time you experienced pain, or failed to accomplish a daily task because of pain.
Proving suffering can be more difficult than showing pain. However, it’s certainly still possible.
Some of the most common pieces of evidence used to prove suffering include:
- Journals recording instances of both pain and mental discomfort as a result of your injuries. You should also record the daily financial inconveniences of your injury, such as if you have to use a rideshare service instead of driving.
- Testimony showing changes in your behavior or ability to perform basic tasks, such as walking up stairs.
- Medical records from visits to mental health professionals.
- Records of changes in work or school performance following your injury.
Remember that the best way to prove pain and suffering is to show how it interfered with your daily life.
This is much easier to do if you start keeping track of your pain and inconvenience as early as possible.
Pain and Suffering Settlements
Pain and suffering is one of the primary factors that an insurance adjuster will consider when offering you a settlement.
This is because reaching a settlement is often much cheaper for the insurance company than having to fight out your case in court.
To estimate the pain and suffering award that you deserve, your lawyer can look at other pain and suffering settlement examples from the same area.
This is why it’s so important to have an experienced, local lawyer with a wide knowledge of Virginia personal injury cases.
Settlement Negotiation and Evidence
In general, you can use the same kinds of evidence you would show to a jury when negotiating a settlement.
However, insurance companies may take into account evidence that would not be admissible in a court of law.
For example, police reports are not allowed as evidence in court. However, insurance companies often rely upon police reports as relatively unbiased evidence of how an accident occurred.
For this reason, it is often in your interests to request a copy of your Virginia police report.
Ultimately, there is no simple way to calculate pain and suffering in Virginia.
Instead, you and your lawyer should work together to negotiate a more accurate pain and suffering claim with the insurance company.
An experienced Virginia personal injury attorney is an invaluable resource in this process, and can help you receive the amount you deserve.