Long Term or Permanent Injury Damages
UPDATED: July 17, 2013
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident law decisions. Finding trusted and reliable legal advice should be easy. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
If you have suffered an injury that will have a long-term or permanent effect on your livelihood and quality of life, you will be able to claim damages to compensate the extent of your injuries. Calculating long term pain and suffering damages for severe or permanent injuries requires:
- Knowledge of how state and local law awards long term damages
- Medical documentation to confirm the extent and effect of your injuries
- Evidence of your ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation efforts
- Proof of loss for all economic and non-economic damages
Long term pain and suffering damages can be difficult to calculate because much of the damage is speculative and uncertain. It is very easy to short-change your long term damage calculations if you value your case without the use of an attorney.
Proving Injuries and Need for Long Term Treatment
Regardless of how your state law awards long term pain and suffering, you will need to be able to provide adequate medical documentation to show that your injuries are lasting or permanent. As you are treated for your injuries keep track of:
- All medical bills – no matter how small.
- Communications from your doctor that indicates symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment plans. Request everything your doctor says be put in writing.
- Medical images of your injury such as X-Rays or MRI reports
- Documents from rehabilitation clinics or out-patient treatment centers.
- Prescription instructions and medication receipts.
- Evidence of therapy – at home or with professionals
Every document, photo, email, voicemail, and conversation you have throughout the course of your medical treatment is important. Even if your doctor clearly indicates the injury is permanent, you need to gather every piece of evidence surrounding your treatment.
NOTE: The attorney for the responsible party may demand an independent medical examination to confirm the extent of your injuries. If you receive instruction to consult a separate physician, speak with your attorney immediately.
Proving Losses for Long Term Pain and Suffering Damages
In order to generate an accurate value of your long term or permanent injury, you will need to identify all of your losses. Losses generally fall into two categories:
- Economic: Tangible losses and costs are considered economic damages. Economic damages include hospital bills, treatment bills, receipts for medicine, lost wages from work, and additional costs associated with your injury such as in home care or cleaning services. Calculating economic damages is typically as easy as gathering receipts or identifying work hours missed, however, it is easy to leave costs out of your estimation by overlooking them. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and identify all the costs associated with your injury
- Non-economic: Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate because they are no clear costs associated with them. Damages for your pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, or loss of consortium are non-economic. An experienced attorney can identify your non-economic damages and help you calculate them before you file a claim.
Both your economic and non-economic damages must be valued in consideration of your long term or permanent disability – meaning that you will need to estimate future losses. Your estimates will need to be supported by documentation such as:
- Medical reports, testimony from a doctor, or an invoice from your hospital that are used to calculate the future cost of your medical care
- Bills for prescription drugs which indicate how frequently you need to refill
- Cost of in or outpatient nursing care or physical therapy, and a statement indicating how long you will need it
- Costs of equipment you need such as a wheelchair, heart monitor, wheelchair ramps, special accommodations to your home or car, crutches or a cane, or any other device that you require as you live with your injury
- An estimate of wages lost. If you cannot return to work in the same capacity, include the difference in your old vs new salary.
- A list of things that you can no longer do as a result of your injury – include hobbies such as golf or tennis, duties such as child care, or activities such as playing sports, running, or working out. An attorney will be able to translate these losses into dollars.
- Changes in your relationship for loss of consortium damages
When gathering evidence for future pain and suffering damages, you can be as broad as possible and include everything that you used to do but can do no longer. Keep in mind that valuing these losses and projecting the costs for the future is difficult, and should be done by an attorney.
Factors that Influence Long Term Pain and Suffering Damages
Attorneys, courts, and insurance companies will set the value of your listed damages based on a number of factors unique to your situation:
- Your age
- What type of shape you are in
- Any specific medical conditions that make your injury or treatment more difficult to endure – such as allergies to medication or pre-existing back pain made worse.
- How long you will suffer from the injury
- How severely the pain will be during the course of your injury
- How difficult treatment / rehabilitation will be for you
- Whether or not you will need future surgeries or additional medical attention
- The cause of the injury and degree the defendant was negligent – more egregious acts of negligence could result in increased damages
- How regularly you took part in the activities and hobbies you claim you can no longer participate in
Throughout your personal injury claim or suit, insurance companies or attorneys representing the opposing party will attempt to either diminish your injury or allege that you contributed to the accident / severity of the injury. You will need to undergo evaluations from independent physicians and answer questions about the accident, your treatment, and your actions as you recover. You can avoid making comments that hurt your case by speaking with an attorney before answering any questions and having one represent you throughout the process. Personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis – meaning they do not get paid until you have received a judgment for your injuries.