What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Categories: Personal Injury

pain and suffering damages

In Washington State, victims of personal injury accidents are entitled to collect compensation if another negligent party caused the accident. Along with damages for costs like medical bills and lost wages, victims may also be able to collect damages for pain and suffering. However, because every personal injury case comes with unique facts and circumstances, there is no one-size-fits-all pain and suffering settlement amount. 

If you’ve suffered an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, the Washington State personal injury lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner can help you calculate just pain and suffering compensation. With over 40 years of legal experience, Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner provides compassionate advocacy and world-class legal assistance. From the moment you hire us as your personal injury lawyers, we’ll work tirelessly on your financial recovery so you can focus on your physical and emotional progress.

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages in Washington State?

People file personal injury claims in the State of Washington to pursue compensatory damages. Compensatory damages seek to “compensate” injury victims for the damage they sustain following an accident. Compensatory personal injury damages are categorized into economic and noneconomic damages. Non-economic injuries, defined by the Revised Code of Washington, Section 4.56.250, are non-monetary mental and physical losses. These losses include pain and suffering, which refers to the subjective pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma accompanying an injury.

Proving Pain and Suffering

The best way to prove pain and suffering is to provide documentation and evidence to the insurance company or the court. Evidence that may substantiate and convey the true extent of the pain and suffering a victim endured might include the following:

  • A documented accounting of all visits to medical and mental health professionals;
  • Written opinions or notes made by mental health professionals;
  • Written opinions or notes made by medical doctors about the extent and nature of your condition and how it does and will continue to impact your life;
  • Testimony and opinions from additional neutral third-party experts corroborating the evidence your physician or mental health therapist provided;
  • A list of all medications prescribed for both physical and mental pain following the accident, as well as medications you must continue to take for an extended period;
  • Documentation detailing any permanent, life-threatening, or disabling conditions;
  • Any journaling that describes a victim’s pain, daily life, and how the accident changed a victim’s ability to perform daily activities; and
  • Testimony from friends and family members explaining a victim’s daily pain and suffering and how the accident impacts the victim’s everyday life.

Providing some or all this evidence may persuade an insurance company, judge, or jury that a victim’s pain and suffering had a devastating impact on their life. To learn more about the best types of evidence to support a pain and suffering claim, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner.

How to Determine Pain and Suffering Damages

You may wonder what type of damages are awarded for pain and suffering. Calculating a monetary figure for economic damages like lost wages, property loss, and medical treatments is usually straightforward. But because pain and suffering tend to be subjective and don’t always result in bills and other tangible evidence, calculating an award is less clear. In other words, when pursuing compensatory damages, pain and suffering are the hardest to quantify. For this reason, retaining an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands how pain and suffering settlements are determined is crucial to obtaining compensation that fairly reflects your damages.

Because pain and suffering are subjective, there isn’t a single formula that determines an award amount. In most instances, insurance companies, judges, and juries examine the evidence presented to determine an appropriate number given the victim’s circumstances. For instance, victims suffering severe or permanent injuries who experience ongoing pain and suffering typically receive a higher award than people who have recovered. 

Other factors taken into account include:

  • The impact the injury has on a person’s life;
  • The overall mental and physical pain typically suffered by other people with those similar injuries;
  • Psychologists and other mental and medical health professionals’ statements;
  • A victim’s employment type and whether it has been affected;
  • How long the injury will take to heal;
  • The injury’s ultimate prognosis; and
  • The medical treatments a victim receives and will continue to receive.

Two other ways courts calculate pain and suffering are by applying the ‘multiplier method’ and the ‘per diem’ method to come up with a monetary figure.

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method takes a number between .5 and 5 and multiplies it by the economic cost of the case. For example, if a personal injury case’s monetary damages for medical bills and lost wages totaled $20,000, and the judge or jury used a multiplier of 2, the non-economic damages for pain and suffering would total $40,000. The nature and severity of a victim’s accident and injuries typically influence a court’s decision to use the pain and suffering multiplier method and which actual multiplier number to apply.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method assigns a specific monetary value to each day the victim suffers from their injuries. The days start counting on the date the accident occurred and end on the date of “maximum medical improvement.” Maximum medical improvement is when the victim is completely healed or when a medical expert determines that the victim will never get any better than they are at some point following the accident.

Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner Can Help You with Your Pain and Suffering Claim

If you have a personal injury claim, meeting with the skilled attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner can give you an accurate idea of what your case is worth, including the pain and suffering portion of your compensation. We offer free consultations, and it costs nothing upfront to hire us; we get paid when you do. Contact us at 1-206-488-1462 and let us fight for you so you can journey down the road to justice.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.