In a personal injury matter the pain and suffering portion of a claim can be significant. But how do insurance companies evaluate how much should be offered in settlement when pain and suffering is one element of a claim?
There is no clear-cut answer on how to quantify pain and suffering. However, there are relevant factors which are usually considered by the insurance company:
Do the medical records reflect an uncomplicated recovery or difficult one? Two individuals with the exact same injury may have two very different stories of recovery. Often times, the story is told by a detailed review of the medical records from the treating physicians. While more doctor visits or more medical records do not always mean a higher settlement, they are often times a good indication of how routine or complicated a recovery was.
Another obvious element considered by insurance companies in personal injury matter is whether or not there was any pre-existing condition. If there was a prior injury to the same body part, even if the plaintiff had fully recovered from that pre-existing injury, its existence can reduce the value of a settlement. There is always the chance that a jury will believe that the prior injury accounts for some of the pain and suffering the plaintiff endured following his or her accident. Pre-existing injuries can often times be minimized but are never helpful to a case.
Insurance companies often undertake surveillance efforts in order to confirm the claimant’s allegations of pain and suffering are not fabricated. If surveillance demonstrates a physical activity level inconsistent with that alleged by the plaintiff, he or her pain and suffering claim can be seriously compromised.
Another element of pain and suffering involves those activities that the plaintiff has been unable to take part in as a result of his injury. If someone has been unable to actively participate in the activities of their children or spouse and has not been able to take part in a sport that they enjoy the element of pain and suffering may be higher when compared to someone in a different circumstance.
There is no magic formula for calculating pain and suffering. If you have been seriously injured due to the fault of another and would like a free case evaluation, we would be happy to discuss your specific circumstances with you.