By: Law Office of Denise Adkison-Brown

How Do Courts Determine the Value of Pain and Suffering in a Texas Personal Injury Case?

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What Is Pain and Suffering?

There are economic and non-economic damages in the legal area of personal injury. Economic damages are more easily defined because they refer to the financial costs incurred by the injury.

That can include anything from out-of-pocket medical bills; charges for physical, occupational, or mental health therapy; transportation to medical appointments; repair of damaged property, such as a vehicle; and lost wages if the victim ended up losing a significant amount of time at work, among other economic losses.

Then, some damages, known as non-economic damages, are more challenging to quantify in terms of costs. Texas law defines non-economic damages this way:

“‘Noneconomic damages’ means damages awarded to compensate a claimant for physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain or anguish, loss of consortium, disfigurement, physical impairment, loss of companionship and society, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, injury to reputation, and all other nonpecuniary losses of any kind other than exemplary damages.”

While physical pain may be partly attributed to economic damages because of medical costs to work to alleviate or cope with the pain, many aspects of pain and suffering aren’t quantifiable in terms of dollars. As the law above states, it’s often about emotional anguish and trauma. It can apply to the victim of the injury, but it may also apply to immediate family members, especially if the victim died as a result of the injury.

How Do Texas Courts Determine the Value of Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering will be examined in both economic and non-economic terms. As noted above, economic damages are pretty clear because of the financial expenses incurred by the victim.

It’s a complex process involving several factors, including but not limited to:

  • How extensive the injuries were
  • The victim’s age
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Nature and extent of any disfigurement
  • How much pain the victim suffered both at the time of the injury and afterward
  • Whether there was long-term or permanent pain or loss of ability to do things previously easily done
  • Whether emotional trauma resulted from the injury
  • If the victim’s quality of life changed in any substantive way
  • Whether the victim can return to their previous average quality of life

What Is the Multiplier Method of Determining Pain and Suffering Damages?

Texas uses what’s known as the multiplier method to determine the financial amount of pain and suffering. This method starts by identifying the tangible economic damages.

Once that figure is calculated, the judge or jury will apply a multiplier of between 1.5 and 5, depending on how severe and life-altering the injury was. They would then multiply the economic damages amount by the multiplier to come up with the additional pain and suffering damages. For example, if the victim’s economic damages total $20,000 and the court assigns a multiplier of 2 to that, the victim would be awarded a total of $60,000–the economic damages of $20,000 plus the pain and suffering damages of $40,000, or 2 times the economic damages.

How Does Texas Define Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence can affect what a victim may receive for damages. The different U.S. states use one of three types of negligence in personal injury cases.

  • Contributory negligence. This says that if the victim is at all at fault for the accident, they can’t file any claims against the other drivers.
  • Pure comparative negligence. The opposite of contributory negligence says that even if the victim nearly entirely at fault (even 99%), they’re still eligible to receive 1% of any damages awarded to them.
  • Modified comparative negligence. This can be tricky. It says that if the injured person is half at fault (50% or 51% depending on the state), they’re ineligible to file for damages. If their level of fault is below the threshold, they can receive damages, which will be reduced by the percentage of fault they’re assigned.

Texas uses 51% modified comparative negligence. Because of that, the party being sued for damages will work hard to find ways to put as much blame as possible onto the victim in order to pay out as little as possible. That’s why working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is vital. They’ll understand what tactics the other attorneys will use and have plans to counter them.

What Should I Do if I Want to File for Pain and Suffering Damages from an Accident?

First, see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Even if the injury appears minor, there are significant injuries that don’t always appear right away and can worsen if left untreated.

Another reason to be diagnosed quickly is that the opposing side may try to claim that your injuries weren’t related to that specific accident because you didn’t see a doctor immediately.

Then, call DB Law 24/7 at 346-818-3311 for your free nationwide case review. Claims for pain and suffering can be complicated and shouldn’t be done without professional legal advice. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorneys can review your case and help determine the right approach to strive for the best possible outcomes.

Once the accident happens, it’s vital you don’t enter into any communication with the negligent party’s insurance representatives or attorneys, whether it’s by phone, email, text, or letter. Their goal will be to find ways to claim you’re mostly at fault for the injury, or they’ll try to convince you to accept a much lower settlement than you might get otherwise. Forward all communications to your attorney.