How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in an Injury Settlement

If you are reading this article, you have probably been in an accident of some sort, maybe a car accident, a bike accident, a construction accident or some other type of accident with injuries.  You may have a lawyer or you may be taking matters into your own hands.  Regardless, you are now trying to figure out what the value of your non-economic damages are, i.e., the value of your pain, suffering, disability and maybe disfigurement.  Let me try and help.

First, let me try to get the bologna out of your head:

  1. There’s no such thing as a settlement calculator.  For lawyer/law firms or anyone else who advertises this, they are snake oil salesmen.  Run; don’t walk; run away from them.
  2. Beware of lawyers who will quickly give you monetary figures of what your case is worth on a quick phone call – the guy who says “I just handled a case like yours and got my client a hundred thousand bucks.”  Run.  Run quickly.  Don’t look back.
  3. There’s no such thing as “three times specials” or “three times the medical bills” anymore.  There used to be.  There’s not anymore, not for a long time.  Lawyers (or anyone else) who talk about multiplying specials or medical bills as a way to determine the value of pain and suffering are plain and simple, out of touch.

How much is my pain and suffering worth?

Potential new clients ask me all the time, “What is the value of my injury case, of my pain and suffering?”  It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I receive.  My answer is usually the same, whether someone suffered from whiplash as a result of being rear ended in an automobile accident or whether someone was catastrophically injured as a result of medical malpractice.

I explain to them that the value of their case is based upon several things such as liability (what happened?).  If you have two identical people who suffer identical injuries, one was in a car accident and one was in an airplane accident, the one who was in the plane accident probably has a more valuable case.  Strange, but true.  What happened matters, i.e., the nature of the event that caused the injuries is very important.

Location, Location, Location!

I tell them that WHERE the accident took place matters.  For instance, take two identical people who suffer identical injuries, both in car accidents.  If one happened in let’s say Cook County, Illinois and the other happened in Dupage County, Illinois, the guy with the Cook County case has a more valuable case.  Cook County jurors are just more liberal than Dupage County jurors.  Since how a jury would evaluate a case is different from county to county, location of the litigation, or where the litigation would take place if a lawsuit was filed, is significant.

Insurance Coverage

Next, I explain that insurance coverage matters.  For instance, if someone is in a clear liability car accident and the at fault driver carried only $50,000 in liability coverage.  Let’s say the injured victim didn’t have any underinsured motorist coverage at all.  Then, best case scenario, even with catastrophic injuries such as loss of limb, the case is probably worth no more than the insurance coverage, i.e., $50,000.

Settlement Calculator

Lastly, I discuss the elements of damages.  I usually write out what a jury verdict form would look like.  I scribble:

Medical expenses (past and future)                        $_________________________________

Lost wages (past and future)                                      $_________________________________

Pain and suffering (past and future)                        $_________________________________

Loss of a normal life (past and future)                    $_________________________________

Disfigurement                                                                   $_________________________________

TOTAL                                                                              $_____________________________

 

Filling in the Blanks

I then tell the person, “Let’s fill in the blanks so we can figure out the value of your case.  How much are your medical bills?”   Usually, he shrugs his shoulders.  I then ask, “Will your doctor state to a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty that you will require future treatment and how much that treatment will cost?”  I usually get something like, “Huh?”  At that point, the potential client usually has realized by now that calculating dollar amounts for pain and suffering is quite complicated and stops looking for magic answers about how to calculate pain and suffering amounts.  In general, the more the medical bills and lost wages, the more you can get compensated for pain and suffering.  Usually, but not always.

There are no books out there… but there is Colossus

There are no books that exist that say, a case involving a broken arm is worth $50,000 and a case involving a broken leg is worth $60,000 and a case involving a broken neck is worth $100,000.  I wish there was but there is not and there never will be (unless some joker with no conscience is looking to make a profit I guess).  Some insurance companies use computer software to determine value (called Colossus) but it’s not very good in my opinion and better off the subject of a different article.

Now of course there is precedent out there.  Most types of accident and injury cases have happened before and injury lawyers with solid experience generally know if a case has value worth taking.  Think about it – Would a contingent fee lawyer (a lawyer who only gets paid if he obtains money for you) take a case if he thought it didn’t have value?   Since decent personal injury lawyers are contingent fee lawyers who generally advance the costs associated with pursuing a personal injury case, if he takes your case, he thinks it has value.  Exactly how much value is another question.

The big picture is that every accident, injury and thus settlement is different.

The point I’m trying to make here is that calculating the value of things such as pain and suffering or even the value of entire personal injury case is somewhat complex.  There are many factors, some mentioned in this article and some not.  Steer clear from folks who offer settlement calculators.  Steer away from folks who are willing to give you case values without reviewing the evidence.  Careful of the people who tell stories about a friend of a friend who got a million bucks for a sprained finger.

If you have a case, talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer with a track record of success, both in and out of the courtroom.  You’re welcome to call me personally at and I’m glad to help you evaluate your case.  Just please don’t take shortcuts, don’t go to snake oil salesmen or look for magic answers.  You deserve better than that.

Avoid Injuries While Hanging Christmas Lights

Christmaslights

Once again we have arrived at the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas season lights up our neighborhoods with icicle lights, dancing Santa displays, and sparkling reindeer led sleighs. With all of those dazzling distractions, we often forget the work that goes into creating such homemade holiday exhibitions. Too often during the holiday season well-intentioned decorators sacrifice safety in the name of the holiday spirit. In fact, in 2012 the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that more than 15,000 people were seen in emergency rooms across the country for decorating-related injuries. The following are some tips to help you stay in the spirit and out of the hospital this holiday season:

Have a Plan

Hanging Christmas lights may seem like an easy task, but once you gather your supplies, that sense of relaxation will quickly disappear. Having a plan will not only help you avoid the frustration of burned out strands, but also may save your limbs. Take measurements of the areas you are decorating and the lights you want to use. Plan out the areas where you will place your ladder to help avoid areas becoming out of reach. Taking just a few minutes to map out your plan of attack may just save your celebrations.

Beware of Heights

Gravity does not loosen its grip on the human body just because the holidays have arrived. Climbing up on your ladder or roof puts you further from the ground and that means you will hit it much harder when you fall. Have someone hold the ladder while you stand on it and be sure it is resting on solid ground; not mud or gravel. Don’t lean on the ladder to reach an area that is out reach. Get down and move the ladder. You will thank yourself later.

Mind the Lights

Make sure that your lights work before putting them on the roof or windows. Test each light strand before deciding where it will be used. Remember to put the electrical prong near an outlet or extension cord since only one end is capable of powering the lights. If you blow a fuse by overusing the available electricity, you can reset it, but it is inadvisable to do this more than once. Electrical safety is just as important as being aware of heights.

Dress for the Occasion

No Christmas festivity comes without its suggested attire, and hanging lights is no exception! Make sure your shoes are tied tight to avoid tripping over shoelaces or rolling an ankle. Wear gloves if necessary, but ensure that they fit and will stay on through the process; numb fingers are not your friend! Remember that loose or baggy clothing can get caught on nails, shingles, and ladders and that can easily cause you to fall or struggle to get loose. Dressing correctly can help ensure you are warm, keep you balanced, and keep you from wrestling with your loose clothes.

At Willens Law Offices we make it our business to seek compensation for injured parties. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe and beautiful holiday season!

Lawyers Who Handle UPS Truck Accident Cases

The other day, I was sitting in my living room and I heard the doorbell ring. I got up, walked to the door and by the time I opened the door, no one was there. Instead a UPS (United Parcel Service) truck driver was driving his big brown truck away and a package was on my front porch. I was amazed that in the 10 seconds it took me to get to my front door, a person had rang my bell, made his way to his truck, put the truck in gear and drove off. It occurred to me that the pressure to deliver a lot of packages and deliver them quickly placed on UPS truck drivers must be immense. Undoubtedly such pressure causes these UPS truck drivers to drive negligently causing accidents, injuries and sometimes death.

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Some UPS Facts

UPS is headquartered in Sandy Springs (near Atlanta) Georgia. It’s the largest shipment and logistics company in the world shipping more than 15 million packages per day and employing nearly 400,000 people. Its main competitors are the United States Postal Service and FedEx. Known for their brown delivery trucks and uniforms, the company goes by the nickname “Brown”.

UPS Truck Drivers Are Governed by Federal Regulations

Federal regulations set the standards for UPS for the operation of their large fleet of trucks. Said regulations are designed to protect people like you and me. However, like many trucking companies, drivers, especially drivers who have a lot of pressure to deliver packages quickly, don’t always follow these standards and people get hurt, or worse. In fact, from late 2010 to late 2012, UPS truck drivers were involved in nearly 1,500 crashes. More than one-third of those crashes (over 500) involved injuries, including 39 fatalities.
The Federal law referred to in the preceding paragraph is prepared by the FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). These laws are designed to protect the general public and include things such as:

  • Driver training requirements;
  • Maintenance and repair requirements; and
  • Mandatory driver recording for hours on the road.

However, with UPS, it seems that accidents are generally caused because the drivers are just plain and simple in too much of a hurry. The UPS drivers are simply adhering to company directions of delivering packages as quickly as possible. Sometimes this “hurry, hurry, hurry” way of doing business is the cause of accidents. Since a UPS truck is much larger than the cars and SUVs that they are usually in an accident with, people tend to get hurt much worse than your typical passenger vehicle v. passenger vehicle auto accident.
Litigating a case against a trucking company is not the same as litigating your typical car accident case. UPS is a mammoth company and rest assured that the lawyers it hires to defend it in truck accident cases know their stuff. It is important that the attorney you hire for your UPS truck accident case is familiar with trucking industry regulations and is no stranger to the Courtroom.

Contact a Chicago Illinois UPS Truck Accident Attorney

If you’ve been in an accident involving a UPS truck, the odds are that the UPS folks have already started an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident. It may be crucial that you hire a UPS truck accident attorney promptly to level the playing field. Our team of truck accident attorneys is here to help. Our initial consultation is free. If you hire us, our services are absolutely free unless and until we recover monetary compensation for you. Therefore, you can be assured that we will fight hard for you. Please call us, We can help.