Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Are You Entitled to Damages for Pain and Suffering?

Posted Saturday, May 20, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Not all injuries are physical. The emotional pain that accompanies a physical injury can be just as damaging as the actual injury. That’s why Washington law permits victims to recover certain non economic damages. How much a personal injury claimant may recover depends on whether he is pursuing damages in a courtroom or from an insurance company.

Economic Vs. Non economic Damages

Washington places a cap on the amount of non economic damages that personal injury claimants are entitled to receive in personal injury lawsuits. But what is the difference between economic and non economic damages?

Washington law defines “economic damages” as “objectively verifiable monetary losses, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, burial costs, loss of use of property, cost of replacement or repair, cost of obtaining substitute domestic services, loss of employment, and loss of business or employment opportunities.”

In other words, “economic damages” are expenses with obvious monetary values. If you receive a medical bill for $5,000, then your medical damages are $5,000. If is almost impossible to dispute that amount.

“Non economic damages,” however, are “subjective non monetary losses, including, but not limited to pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disability or disfigurement incurred by the injured party, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation, and destruction of the parent-child relationship.”

Because such damages are subjective, Washington has a specific formula for determining how much a claimant is entitled to recover in a personal injury lawsuit (note that there is not a cap on how much you can receive from an insurance company).

Calculating Non economic Damages

Non economic damages are determined by multiplying 0.43 by the personal injury claimant’s annual average wage and life expectancy (not less than 15 years). The claimant may not recover damages more than this amount.

But that cap is limited to personal injury lawsuits. Insurance companies have their own methods of determining how much a person may receive for pain and suffering. For example, companies may use a variation on the multiplier method that multiples the claimant’s medical expenses and other economic damages by 1.5 to 5, depending on the severity of the injuries. In some cases, “5” might not be enough and the company might use a higher multiplier. Factors the company may consider in deciding on what multiplier to use include:

Length of recovery – prolonged recoveries of six months or more may justify a higher multiplier;Permanent scarring, mobility issues, pain or other medical issues; andDocumentation from your physician that you will have recurring problems in the future.

Proving pain and suffering can be difficult, which is why you should always consult with an experienced attorney before pursuing both economic and non economic damages. Remember that you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Us Today

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to recover non economic damages. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We will help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.