Michigan Pain and Suffering Lawyers - Lee Steinberg Law Firm

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Detroit & Michigan Pain and Suffering Lawyers

Under Michigan law, you can file a lawsuit and recover monetary compensation from the person or company that caused the pain and suffering. This is called a negligence case. Our team of aggressive Michigan pain and suffering lawyers have helped our clients obtain hundreds of millions in compensation all over Michigan for the past 50 years.

What are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering refers to cases made as a result of mental or physical distress sustained by an injured person due to another individual’s or company’s negligence. They are not the same thing as economic losses like wage loss and outstanding medical bills.

Examples include:

  • Physical pain from the body, such as low back pain, neck pain, or a broken bone
  • Headaches
  • Emotional distress
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Grief as a result of the death of a loved one
  • Limitations on activities and hobbies

Pain and suffering can be split into two components – physical and mental. Physical pain is more than just pain and discomfort from the actual injuries. It encompasses any pain the plaintiff is likely to endure in the future as a result of the accident. In less major cases it is compensation for discomfort. In severe cases, it is compensation for extreme suffering.

Mental pain looks at what the plaintiff suffers through on an emotional level. It includes things like distress, shock, anxiety, grief, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of love life, and emotional trauma. It also takes into account physical manifestations of the emotional damages, such as depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, and symptoms of PTSD. Like physical pain, mental also considers not just past suffering, but the emotional toll expected to continue.

Symptoms of emotional distress

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of consortium
  • Strain on relationships

Who Pays for Pain and Suffering Compensation?

An injured person gets pain and suffering compensation from either the individual or company that was negligent in causing the injuries. For example, in a car crash, the car insurance company for the driver that caused the accident would be the responsible party for paying pain and suffering. However, you must prove the other driver was at least 50% at fault for causing the accident. A Michigan pain and suffering lawyer can help you prove this to win your case.

In almost all situations, the entity paying pain and suffering is not the individual. Instead, it is their insurance company. Many people do not realize this. At a jury trial, the person or company is the named defendant. But the lawyers representing them are paid by their insurance company and the verdict or settlement award is also paid by the insurance company.

How Injured Must I Be To Receive Pain and Suffering?

It depends on the type of case. In theory, any type of injury can result in money compensation for pain and suffering so long as the defendant is negligent.

However, for car accidents, the law is different. To receive pain and suffering compensation from a car or truck crash, the injured person must have sustained what’s called a “threshold injury.” The three categories for threshold injury in Michigan are (1) death, (2) permanent serious disfigurement, and (3) serious impairment of body function.

Most car and truck accident cases involve the last category, serious impairment of body function. The meaning of this phrase has changed over the years. The current definition requires an impairment that is objectively manifested, meaning it is observable or perceivable from actual symptoms or conditions by someone other than the injured person, the impairment is of an important body function, which affects the injured person’s general ability to lead his or her normal life.

An injury or impairment does not have to be permanent. The law specific specifically says there is no time frame for how long you must have the impairment to qualify for pain and suffering compensation. Every case is different. That is why calling a really good Michigan pain and suffering lawyer can make the difference in your case.

How do I Prove Pain and Suffering?

Since pain and suffering is so subjective, it can be hard to present tangible proof. Even today, there is no way to objectively test a person’s pain or the degree of suffering they are experiencing. In addition, pain and suffering cannot be tied to a dollar figure like lost wages and medical bills. Instead, it relates to the injured person’s experiences.

That is why medical treatment and objective testing are critical in proving pain and suffering. Medical documentation is critical. Without medical documentation to substantiate your injuries and disability, it is very hard to provide the evidence needed to get a proper pain and suffering settlement.

What a person tells their doctor is important. Make sure to mention any pain or discomfort you are experiencing and explain why it started. When a doctor makes a note of these injuries it becomes part of your medical records and admissible evidence. Also, the opinion of a treating doctor is crucial in proving pain and suffering and trauma.

What Documentation Do I Need to Prove Pain and Suffering?

You must provide the insurance company proof to validate your personal injury claim. Here are some of the important documents you should gather:

  • Photos of the accident and your subsequent injuries
  • Medical reports and medical records
  • Any medical bills and receipts
  • Lists and receipts for prescriptions/medications
  • Proof of lost wages
  • Log of treatment undergone, both physical and psychological
  • Journal or a pain log
  • List of missed activities, hobbies, and important life events.
  • Written evaluations from your therapist or mental help professional

At the very least, a good Michigan pain and suffering lawyer will obtain their client’s medical records, medical bills, photographs of the injuries, before and after photographs, prescription records, over-the counter drug receipts and wage loss information. The documentation you provide for your pain and suffering claim can be the difference between winning a full award or not.

In addition, letters or testimony from friends, family, and co-workers is extremely important. These people know you the best and can explain to the world how a car accident or slip and fall has upended your life. This can be some of the most powerful evidence in a pain and suffering lawsuit.

How Does an Insurance Company Calculate Pain and Suffering for Settlement?

Here are some factors that insurance companies, judges and juries look at when figuring out how much pain and suffering to award:

  • The severity of the injury
  • The longevity of the injury and how consistent the pain is
  • What kind of medical treatment is needed, and whether additional medical care will be needed in the future, such as physical therapy, medications, or surgery
  • How the injuries have affected your life. For example what work, hobbies, and recreational activities have been affected
  • How your injuries have affected your relationships
  • Medical evidence that supports the injured person’s claims
  • Consideration of pre-existing conditions

There are no set rules that determine what your pain and suffering settlement will be. Two common methods are the (1) Multiplier Method, and (2) Per Diem Method.

The Multiplier Method

This method combines the plaintiff’s damages for medical bills and lost wages and then simply multiplied by a number, typically between 1.5  and 5. For example, say the total of medical bills and lost wages for an accident victim are $5,000. She may multiply that by four and determine that $20,000 is an appropriate pain and suffering settlement. The multiplier often correlates with how severe the injuries are.

In the multiplier method, the multiplier will generally range from 1.5 to 5. Factors that affect this number include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Likelihood of a quick and full recovery
  • How big of an impact your injuries have on your day-to-day activities
  • Whether or not the other party was clearly at fault

The multiplier method is not used as much anymore.

The Per Diem Method

This method looks at the daily cost of living with the pain and suffering. For example, a plaintiff may have a per diem of $200, and maximum recovery is determined to be reached in 4 months (120 days). Under this method, the total pain and suffering amount is $200 x 120= $24,000.

In the per diem method, the most difficult part is explaining the daily rate. One way to pick out a daily rate is to make it your daily earnings. The contention would be that dealing with the pain from your injuries is proportionate to the energy expended in going to work every day.

This is easy to calculate. Say you get into an accident that results in inhibitive pain for the next four months (120 days). To get your per diem, just divide your annual salary by number of working days in a year (usually 250). If you make $55,000 per year, the per diem comes out to $220. Multiply by 120 days for a total settlement of $26,400. If you are hourly, the calculation is simply your hourly rate times the number of hours you work in a given day. Note that this method cannot be used for long-term or permanent injuries.

It is important to remember that these two methods are extremely rough estimates and should not be considered a set in stone settlement number. A Michigan pain and suffering lawyer and law firm that is not afraid to go to trial, and paint a picture for the jury what their client is going through, is what matters.

It should also be noted that the facts of the case are not the only things that can influence the settlement for pain and suffering. Factors such as the likeability, credibility, and honesty of the plaintiff will be considered by the insurance company. They also take into account whether the plaintiff will be a good or bad witness on the stand at trial. This is why it is important to hire the best Michigan pain and suffering lawyer.

Are there Limits on the Amount of a Michigan Pain and Suffering Lawyer Can Get You?

It depends on the case. For a car accident, there is no limit or cap for pain and suffering. If a jury believes your case is worth $5,000,000, then the jury can award that amount and there is no cap. That said, the insurance policy limits often dictate the maximum amount of damages collected. In addition, Michigan does not have punitive damages for car accidents and most personal injury cases.

There is a limit or cap on the amount of pain and suffering for medical malpractice and product liability cases in Michigan. That number increases a little bit every year. In 2024, the lower limit for non-economic damages medical malpractice claims is $569,000. The upper limit is adjusted to $1,016,000. The upper limit only applies if the plaintiff suffered paralysis of one or more limbs, a permanently damaging brain injury, or a permanently damaging spinal cord injury.

Michigan Pain and Suffering Lawyers Fighting For You

The attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm have been fighting and getting money for our clients for over 50 years. Our Michigan pain and suffering lawyers have obtained hundreds of millions in settlements in almost every county in the state. That is why we are widely recognized as one of the best Michigan personal injury law firms. Contact our law firm today. You pay nothing unless we win your Michigan car accident case. Let our personal injury lawyers help you by calling 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733).