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FAQs: How is Pain and Suffering Determined in a Car Accident Case?

Trial Pro P.A. is proud to advocate for accident victims all over the state of Florida, including from our Central Florida office in Orlando. Our dedicated experienced personal injury attorneys handle a range of legal matters, from employment disputes to auto accidents claims. We can use our knowledge and legal skills to help you not only achieve a favorable outcome, but relieve the legal burden from your shoulders as well. Our entire team understands how challenging and confusing litigation can be, which is why we are here for you through every step of the process.

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Frequently Asked Questions - How is Pain and Suffering Determined in a Car Accident Case?

How is Pain and Suffering Determined in a Car Accident Case?

Under Florida Law, a person injured through the fault of another, through another person’s negligence, is entitled to collect damages to compensate them for their losses, with the goal of making them whole.  There are different categories of damages that an injured party may collect under Florida Law.  Generally, these damages are divided into two areas:  Economic damages and non-economic damages, also called “Pain and Suffering”.  Economic damages are tangible losses that can be calculated with accuracy and definitiveness.  Examples of economic damages are lost wages from work due to injuries or medical treatment associated with the injuries, medical bills incurred that are not covered by insurance policies, and damage or destruction of personal property such as the motor vehicle itself.  These damages can ordinarily be calculated to the penny based on readily available information. 

The other category of damages, known as pain and suffering, is less certain as there is no set formula to calculate such damages.  Examples of pain and suffering damages are pain experienced from injuries from the date of loss projected into future years.  Because many injuries have permanent, lifelong consequences, these damages may be calculated forward through the expected life expectancy of the injured party.  In fact, under Florida Law, an injured party is not entitled to collect pain and suffering damages unless they first prove they sustained a permanent injury as defined under Florida Law.  Florida Statute 627.737 defines a permanent injury as “(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (b)Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; (c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or (d) Death.

Included in what constitutes a permanent injury are psychological injuries.  Examples of these injuries are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and closed head or brain injury.  This list is by no means exhaustive.

Going back to the requirement under Florida Law to prove permanent injury in order to collect non-economic, pain and suffering, damages, if an injured party is unable to prove he or she sustained a permanent injury as defined above, they are not eligible to collect pain and suffering damages.  This can lead to a catastrophic result at trial if a jury makes that determination.  Interestingly, this requirement only applies to automobile crashes and not to any other type of injury.  For example, if a person is injured through the negligent creation of a dangerous condition in a building, that person can collect pain and suffering damages regardless of whether he or she proves they sustained a permanent injury. 

Again, there is no formula to calculate pain and suffering.  Attorneys for accident victims along with the insurance industry often make this determination based on past settlements of cases with similar injuries or jury verdicts resulting from trials with similar liability and injury facts.  Some important factors in arguing the value of pain and suffering damages are the age of the injured person, the background of the injured person, the activity level of the injured person before and after the injury, the extent of the injury itself, and the effect the injury has on the injured party’s everyday life.  The age is critical for various reasons.  First, a younger person has many more years of life expectancy than an elderly injured person.  More years translated into more pain and more suffering.  Juries rely on census data and actuarial tables that offer average life expectancies for different ages, ethnic backgrounds, and genders.  So in calculating pain and suffering for a 12 year old, an allowance for such damages over the course of 76 years may be appropriate, as a healthy 12 year old has an average life expectancy of 88 years old.  Similarly, an elderly woman age 75 may have a life expectancy of only eleven years, so future pain and suffering damages may be calculated for a significantly shorter period.  Other factors come into play when considering age such as the effect of pain, suffering or disfigurement to a child versus and adult.  Likewise, there is an argument that an elderly person with a permanent injury will be forced to spend their remaining limited days, their “golden years”, in pain rather than enjoying their grandchildren .  The background of the injured party is also considered, including family, education, employment history, and activity level to determine the true effect of the injury on the victim’s life. 

A comparison of the injured person’s pre-injury versus post injury activity level is critical, the loss of mobility is a factor that can have significant impact when determining pain and suffering damages.  For instance, I a recent trial in Central Florida, the injured party was a high level professional athlete who sustained a severed ear and lost sight in both eyes.  The player, “Roberto”, lost the ability to earn money in the National Football League, and this was obviously an important element of his damages.  However, his inability to pursue his true passion in life, his realized dream of playing professional football, had devastating psychological effects on both Roberto and his family.  As a result, he suffered from depression and he practically gave up on life.  The jury appreciated this element of “pain and suffering” and awarded $550,000 per year for his life expectancy of 60 more years, for total pain and suffering damages of 30 million dollars.    

Roberto’s misfortune highlights one of the most overlooked elements of pain and suffering damages, the devastating psychological effects to the victim and his family.  This by no means suggests a person suffering from depression or some other mental illness prior to the accident is not eligible to collect pain and suffering damages, as Florida Law specifically permits compensation for aggravation of a preexisting condition.  This is critical in evaluating pain and suffering damages, as many people injured in traumatic events carry some degree of psychological issues from their lives, however they can find solace in knowing they can be made whole irrespective of prior issues.      

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At Trial Pro, our traffic collision attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. That means we cover the costs of investigating, constructing, negotiating and litigating your lawsuit. We do not bill you anything unless we recover compensation on your behalf. If we do not win your case, you will owe us nothing.

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If you or somebody else you love has been impaired due to someone else's negligence or neglectfulness, you need a renowned attorney by your side who is familiar with the statutes and regulations in Florida.

Our Orlando injury attorneys are experts in personal injury lawsuits and have been acknowledged by our peers for our success. Several of our lawyers have been mentioned as Super Lawyers and distinguished litigators for their success on behalf of our clients.

We have recovered favorable judgments and settlements that contributed in assisting personal injury victims recoup from their injuries, pain and suffering and medical bills, or the loss of a loved one. Let us help you recover the max amount of compensation you are entitled to for your personal injuries.

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FL Drivers Involved in Accidents in 2017

Annually millions of americans are injured, in many instances fatally, in car accidents. In 2011 only, more than 2.2 million people were hurt in the estimated 5,338,000 police-reported car accidents and 32,367 killed in traffic accidents involving automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicycles.

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Piercy Stakelum, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, is the senior attorney at Trial Pro., P.A. Mr. Stakelum carries a zealous nature and his motor is fighting for those who have been compromised. Ask him what his heart yearns for and he’ll summarize it in one word: justice.

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Andy Rariden is a leading civil trial lawyer that adds to the collective legal expertise at Trial Pro, P.A. Although he is originally from Charleston, S.C., Mr. Rariden was raised in Florida. He carries over 20 years of civil trial experience and is committed to defending each of his clients.

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Mr. Davis has built up over two decades of extensive experience trying and disputing cases for clients. Over time, the proficient lawyer has handled a wide range of cases, obtaining successes in lawsuits involving car accidents, medical malpractice, and more.

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A native of Orlando, Don Williams has provided commitment and dedicated legal representation to clients throughout the area. The proficient attorney has a keen heart for helping others which is one among many attributes that distinguish him as a leader.

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Born in Ohio, Tyler Nicoll is a dedicated personal injury attorney and an integral part of the Trial Pro, P.A. team. Mr. Nicoll was raised in Coral Springs, Florida. Mr. Nicoll's primary areas of practice include personal injury accidents, overtime disputes and other related matters.

Mike Davis Personal Injury Attorney

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Mike Davis holds over twenty years of professional legal experience under his belt and he is always ready to utilize it in favor of his clients. He is an established professional in the industry, uniquely qualified to provide legal counsel to individuals who have been compromised.

Steve Johnson Personal Injury Attorney

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At the beginning of Steve Johnson's legal career, he advocated for clients such as General Motors and Ford Company. As time went by, the attorney realized he held a special interest for insurance disputes and decided to join the team of Trial Pro law professionals.

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Marc Williams is an invaluable member of Trial Pro. P.A., dedicated to handling first party insurance claims arising out of Southwest Florida. He has been recognized as a professional in the field, becoming a recipient of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers Bronze Eagle Award.

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Our team at Trial Pro, P.A. doesn’t just glance over your case and throws it to the side. We don’t see you as just another number. In order to obtain victory on your behalf, our personal injury attorneys take a closer look at the details. We believe that quality legal representation is tied to full commitment – not a job that’s done halfway. When you choose Trial Pro, P.A., we prove that mediocrity isn’t in our DNA.

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Trial Pro, P.A. is a proud advocate for personal injury clients throughout the State of Florida. The DNA and foundation of our law firm is passion. While we are passionate about the law, we are even more zealous about fighting for those who have been hurt due to the negligence of others. Our trial attorneys fully embrace authenticity and integrity. With over 100+ years of collective legal experience, our reputable law firm has become a trusted choice for injured individuals. Trial Pro, P.A. has a remarkable reputation for winning. After experiencing a car accident, the last thing you desire is to have an attorney that doesn't know how to adequately represent you. You want a trustworthy and reliable law firm that will walk you through every step of your case. You want a group of attorneys that will pursue justice on your behalf and acquire the maximum compensation. At Trial Pro, P.A., we don't see you as just another case number on our list. We don't turn our backs on you half-way throughout the process. Our former clients can testify that they've truly experienced the Trial Pro, P.A. difference. Quite frankly, most of them have pursued our representation because of others that have recommended us. There are a handful of characteristics that distinguish us from other lawyers but our credibility is the best one amongst all.

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