How to Substantiate a Claim for Pain and Suffering

Personal Injury | October 9, 2021

If you or somebody you care about has been injured as a result of the careless actions of another individual, you should be able to recover compensation for your losses. In general, this means recovering money for your medical bills, lost wages, and property damage expenses. However, you may also be able to recover pain and suffering damages. Here, our personal injury lawyers want to discuss how to substantiate a pain and suffering claim for a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois.

How to Prove Pain and Suffering in Illinois

If you have been injured as a result of the actions of another individual or entity, you may be able to recover various types of compensation for pain and suffering losses. These types of losses typically fall under the non-economic damages umbrella, and include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Physical impairment
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse

As we will discuss in a moment, properly calculating non-economic losses can be challenging. That is because there are no bills or receipts that can be added up to properly substantiate pain and suffering types of losses. However, there are methods that individuals can use to show that they have sustained non-economic losses.

  • Document the injury severity. In general, insurance carriers and personal injury juries will be more likely to award pain and suffering damages for severe injuries. It is crucial to keep track of all medical records and documentation related to any injuries that occur as a result of the incident.
  • Keep a journal or diary. It is recommended that injury victims keep a daily journal or diary that documents every aspect of their recovery. This journal can be written down, or it can include voice memos or video journaling. This journal should include the levels of pain and suffering as well as general thoughts related to the incident. An injury victim can talk about how the injury has affected their daily life and their ability to spend time with their family. These types of journals are typically admissible in court.
  • Testimony from friends and family. Friends and family members can provide testimony in these situations. These individuals can speak about how they have noticed a change in the injury victim, including their physical abilities as well as their mental and emotional responses.
  • Personal testimony. The person who sustains an injury can also provide testimony in court about how the injury has affected them. Personal testimony can be powerful when it comes to swaying a jury.

Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages for an Illinois Personal Injury Claim

As we mentioned above, there are typically no bills or receipts directly related to non-economic pain and suffering losses. Attorneys will typically use one of two methods to calculate these losses.

  • Multiplier method. Using this method, an attorney will add up all of the economic expenses related to the injury, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, etc. They will then multiply that total by a set number (usually a number ranging from 1.5 to 5) to arrive at the non-economic total. For example, if all of the economic expenses added up to $50,000, an attorney could use a multiplier of three to reach a non-economic total of $150,000. Overall, the attorney would ask for $200,000.
  • Per diem method. This is an alternative method to use to calculate pain and suffering losses. This means that an attorney will assign a specific dollar value to every day that person is expected to experience pain and suffering until they reach maximum medical recovery. For example, if a person is not expected to recover for an entire year, an attorney may apply a $300 value amount to each day during that time frame. This would amount to $109,500 (a result of 365 days X $300) in non-economic damages.

It is crucial for any person who sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of another individual or entity to work with an attorney who can help properly calculate all expected losses, including economic damages and non-economic damages.