While there are too many unique factors in any given case to give you a formula for accurately valuing sciatica pain as part of an insurance injury claim or personal injury lawsuit, this article discusses a few keys to consider. We'll also look at some examples of past verdicts and settlements in injury cases where sciatica pain was a factor.
"Valuing" a case means coming up with a best guess at what a jury might award the person suing for sciatica pain (the plaintiff), what the person being sued (the defendant) would be willing to pay, and then also what the plaintiff would be willing to accept. That's obviously a lot to try and sort out. But the two big factors in valuing any injury case are the extent of the plaintiff's damages, i.e. how bad the sciatica pain is and the negative effects on the plaintiff's life, and how likely the jury is to find the defendant liable for the underlying accident.
Some damages, like medical bills and lost wages, are easier to predict because "concrete" damages like these will mostly be based on the amount the plaintiff demonstrates he or she has paid and/or will continue to pay (or how much he or she has lost and will continue to lose).
For subjective, less concrete damages like "pain and suffering," predictions are at best an educated guess based on awards in similar sciatica pain cases in the past, and the specific circumstances in the instant case. Because every case and every jury is different, even the best analysis will still only predict pain and suffering damages within a broad range.
What is also key in valuing damages is how the sciatica pain affects a particular plaintiff. Depending on the extent of the pain, a plaintiff may not be able to engage in his or her normal activities (work and leisure) for an extended period of time. For example, if the plaintiff normally plays a lot of sports, his or her damages may reflect the "loss of quality of life" because the sciatica pain prevents sports activities. In other words, "pain and suffering" isn't just limited to the actual physical pain caused by the sciatica pain, but all of the direct negative effects on the plaintiff's life.
Another factor with claims involving sciatica pain is that direct proof of the pain is usually based on the plaintiff's testimony, as opposed to an x-ray or other objectively verifiable documentation. However, sciatica pain is a well known and well documented symptom of damage to the sciatica nerve. Proof of a herniated disc, although not the sole cause of sciatica pain, can provide more tangible evidence of the likelihood of sciatica pain.
What will most bolster a plaintiff's case is documentation of symptoms and treatment from a healthcare professional -- and lack of that kind of evidence will aid the defendant's argument that the plaintiff has exaggerated the existence and/or extent of his or her sciatica pain.
The other major factor in valuing a case is the likelihood a defendant will be found liable at trial. If the plaintiff has little or no evidence proving the defendant was at fault for the accident or other event that led to the plaintiff's sciatica pain, the value of the case goes down considerably.
Even if the potential damages are high, a defendant will be less willing to settle and more inclined to take her chances at trial when fault is up in the air. Similarly, the plaintiff will be more inclined to accept a low settlement because he runs the risk of getting nothing at trial.