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What Is Considered Pain and Suffering in an Accident Claim?

Virginia’s civil justice system allows injured accident victims to seek financial reimbursement not only for their economic (financial) losses but also for their non-economic losses. Non-economic losses can include physical pain, emotional distress and other intangible damages related to the preventable accident. The civil courts in Virginia place these damages in the category of pain and suffering. Understanding what the law considers pain and suffering could help you demand a fair amount during your accident claim.

What is considered pain and suffering in an accident claim?

Physical Pain and Suffering

A personal injury can cause immense physical pain and suffering for a victim. An injury such as a burn, for example, could damage or permanently destroy the affected area’s nerves. A broken bone could cause pain, soreness, swelling and immobility. As a victim, you could request compensation for all the physical pain and discomfort you feel because of your injury. This includes the foreseeable suffering you will endure due to pain or chronic pain in the future.

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Emotional Injuries

The other main damage type under the pain and suffering category is emotional injury. Emotional injuries refer to distress, anxiety, depression, stress, mental anguish, humiliation, psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many personal injury accidents result in emotional distress in one or more forms for the victim, either temporarily or long term. Emotional damages can cover a victim’s overall mental, emotional or psychological comfort and happiness.

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Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is another umbrella term within the pain and suffering damage category. It can refer to the loss of many different services and care by the victim after sustaining an injury. If an injury gave you a permanent disability, for example, your loved ones may be eligible to recover compensation for the loss of your household services, physical touch, emotional love and spousal sexual relations. Loss of consortium damages are most common in cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths.

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Lost Enjoyment of Life

You may also qualify for compensation for lost enjoyment of life after a serious injury in Virginia. This is a type of damage that describes the loss of the ability to enjoy or fully appreciate life’s activities due to your accident and/or injuries. You may suffer a reduced enjoyment of being alive, or a diminished quality of life, because of your serious or disabling injury. Examples of lost enjoyment of life could include having to take a break from your favorite activities or being unable to play with your child.

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What Is the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages?

A pain and suffering award can be difficult to quantify due to the lack of financial elements involved in these types of damages. Rather than calculating the costs of your medical bills, auto mechanic bills and lost wages, you or your lawyer will have to assess a reasonable amount of non-economic damages based on the type, severity and extent of your injury. Most juries use one of two main methods for calculating pain and suffering awards.

  • Multiplier method. A jury will take the full amount of your economic damage award and multiply it by a number between 1.5 and 5 that is appropriate for your degree of damages. If you had $100,000 in economic damages, for example, an assigned multiplier of 2 would lead to $200,000 in a pain and suffering award.
  • Per Diem method. This calculation method assigns a daily pay rate for your pain and suffering. It typically matches your average daily working wage. Then, it multiplies this rate by the number of days you will foreseeably experience the pain and suffering. If you earn an average of $100 per day, for instance, and will have your injury for 50 days, you could receive $5,000 for pain and suffering.

A pain and suffering award amount can vary considerably from claimant to claimant. In Virginia, state law places a maximum damage cap on some pain and suffering awards. You cannot receive more than $2 million in total if you have a medical malpractice case, for example. Hiring a Richmond personal injury attorney could help you prove pain and suffering and fight for a maximum award for your non-economic damages.

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