Pain and suffering is a legal term to describe the emotional and physical stress resulting from an injury caused by another person’s negligence, reckless actions, or intentional doings. This harm is a form of non-economic damages, meaning that the losses are hard to quantify and prove since only the victim knows how their pain and suffering affected their lives. Consequently, following a motor vehicle accident, it can be challenging to determine the amount of pain and suffering damages you can claim.
However, to better help you understand these damages and how they are calculated, we have prepared the post below. In it, we will go over what you need to know about pain and suffering damages and explain how a motor vehicle accident attorney can help you fight for the maximum compensation you need. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
The Different Categories of Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are generally split up into two categories: emotional pain and suffering and physical pain and suffering.
PHYSICAL PAIN AND SUFFERING
This type of pain and suffering refers to the pain your whole body experiences after you sustain an injury.
Many times this pain can be short-lived or chronic and include things such as:
- Neck, back, and muscle pain
- Pain from soft tissue injuries
- Agony from broken bones
This type of pain can not only substantially hinder how a person lives their life, but even if the individual reaches maximum medical improvement, they can still be left dealing with devastating pain for the rest of their life.
EMOTIONAL PAIN AND SUFFERING
Following a car crash, in addition to physical pain, victims may also suffer from emotional pain. This emotional pain can include the following:
- Disfigurement: This includes permanent changes to an individual’s body, such as lost limbs, scarring, or burns.
- Physical Impairment: This impairment refers to a psychological condition, type of cosmetic disfigurement, disorders, or anatomical losses that can impact a person’s body systems, such as how they walk, talk, or move around.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: If a person can no longer participate in activities they did prior to their accident, these limitations can impact their ability to enjoy their life.
- Diminished quality of life: Life can significantly change after an accident, becoming complicated with specialist appointments, surgeries, or prescription medications. This can ultimately impact the quality of a car accident victim’s life.
- Anger: Victims of a car crash may have to deal with angry outbursts or chronic outrage for the rest of their life. This anger can result from the pain they are experiencing, from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or may even mean the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury.
- Anxiety: Following a car crash, victims may experience severe anxiety that can cause intense fear of doing specific activities, such as riding in or driving a car again.
- Depression: While victims may experience sadness after an accident, they can also deal with a sense that nothing else matters, or depression, and these feelings can significantly impact their ability to live the life they have wanted for themselves.
- Humiliation: This type of emotion is a form of mental anguish that leaves victims feeling emotionally vulnerable after the accident.
- Grief: If a victim can no longer be the person they want to be after an accident, they can experience intense grief that stops them from living the life they have enjoyed.
- Loss of Companionship: If a victim can no longer help or provide for their loved ones, be the parent or spouse they want to be, or take care of their family, it can impact their relationships.
- Inconvenience: When a victim can no longer do the activities they were once able to do, it can inconvenience their lives and cause major issues for them and their family.
- Sexual Dysfunction: When a victim loses their ability to experience arousal, pleasure, or sexual function, it can severely impact their lives and relationships and result in emotional issues.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
When the court or the insurer tries to calculate pain and suffering damages following a car crash, they tend to look at various factors, including the following:
- The extent and severity of the trauma suffered
- The impact of the injuries on the ability to live your life and the ability to work after the accident
- The impact of the injuries on your relationships and social status
- The amount of lost income you sustained from not being able to work
- The amount of time it will take to heal your injuries
- Whether the injuries are permanent
- The type of medical treatments required now and going forward
In addition to these specific factors, different types of calculations can be used to determine the amount of compensation that victims of a car accident can receive for their pain and suffering damages. Two of the more popular formulas include the following:
- Per diem, or daily rate, method
- Multiplier method
THE PER DIEM METHOD OR THE DAILY RATE METHOD
The per diem method or the daily rate method assigns a specific monetary value to every day the victim suffers from the impacts of their motor vehicle accident to the date of maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement is a term used to describe the date by which victims of an accident have been completely healed or when a healthcare professional no longer expects the victim’s condition to improve further despite further treatment.
THE MULTIPLIER METHOD
Unlike the per diem method, the multiplier method does not only focus on the duration of a person’s pain and suffering. Rather, this method focuses on the victim’s economic losses after an accident, such as their medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs for assistive medical devices or medication needed after the accident, travel expenses related to getting to doctor appointments, and other costs associated with the incident. Using this method, the sum of all these economic damages is multiplied by a number from 1 to 5, depending on the accident’s severity.
However, figuring out these methods tends to be a complicated process. Thankfully, when you work with an experienced car accident attorney, these lawyers can help you understand how these methods work, as well as perform a detailed evaluation of your car crash, which can help you accurately calculate the pain and suffering damages you can obtain.
How Do Insurers Value a Victim’s Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?
Unfortunately, while you may want to believe that the insurance company will support you after a car crash, in truth, these companies will want to do everything but that. In most cases, they will try to pay you the least amount of compensation possible after an accident. This is because these insurance companies are a business that wants to make a profit. Therefore, if the company can avoid paying money for an incident, it will try to do so. That is why one method they use to keep payouts low is to under value a victim’s pain and suffering.
For these reasons, if you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company, the chances are that it will be substantially lower than the amount you and your attorney calculated. This is when your attorney can begin settlement negotiations with the other side and try to fight for all the money you are entitled to by providing as much evidence as possible to show why your pain and suffering damages need to be higher.
Evidence That Can Help Prove Your Pain and Suffering Damages
To show the extent of your pain and suffering, it is important to provide as much evidence documenting your losses, physical pain, and emotional distress as possible. While medical reports are a good place to start when it comes to capturing how you have been feeling after a motor vehicle accident, there are other documents you and your attorney can gather to show this pain and suffering:
- Other medical documentation from specialists and medical care professionals that took care of you, including documents from therapy sessions, which can help describe your condition and how this condition impacted your life and will continue to impact your life
- Photos and videos showing the severity of your pain and suffering
- Statements from expert medical witnesses that can substantiate your claim and the extent of your pain and suffering damages
- Documentation that can show the severity of your condition and the disabilities resulting from it
- A list of the medications you have been prescribed by doctors after the car crash
- Testimony from people that can describe how the car crash and resulting injuries impacted your ability to live your life
- Documentation showing how your pain and suffering has interfered with your ability to perform daily activities
However, do not stress if you cannot gather some of this documentation by yourself. When you retain a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney, these lawyers can handle the process of investigating your accident, obtaining the documents and testimony that can help your claim, and assisting you as you fight for the maximum damages you deserve.
The Types of Injuries That Result in Higher Pain and Suffering Compensation
While pain and suffering compensation will depend on the circumstances of the accident, there are certain types of injuries that tend to have higher payouts for pain and suffering damages. They include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Crashes that resulted in a fatality
- Disfigurement injuries, primarily to the face
- Significant burns
- Limb loss
- Spinal cord trauma
- Any other injuries that had a negative and ongoing impact on the quality of your life
INJURIES THAT GENERALLY RECEIVE LOWER PAIN AND SUFFERING COMPENSATION
There are also some injuries that can result from a car crash that will have lower pain and suffering payouts. These injuries tend to include those that are not likely to have a long-term impact, and healing completely is possible. These injuries include:
- Injuries that have no medical bills
- Prior injuries
However, because each car accident is different, you should consider discussing your accident with an experienced car accident attorney to determine your pain and suffering damages and what information can help you with your legal claim.
How Can a Skilled Motor Vehicle Accident Legal Professional Help You Go After the Pain and Suffering Damages You Need
If you or a loved one suffered harm in a motor vehicle accident, working with an experienced car accident attorney can help you go after all the economic damages and the pain and suffering damages you deserve. In fact, once these attorneys are hired, they can review the circumstances of your accident, figure out whether you have a viable claim, and review your legal options. From there, they can:
- Obtain evidence that can help show what happened and the extent of your damages.
- Bring in experts, such as accident reconstructionist specialists, medical doctors, and economists, to provide testimony to help your legal claim.
- Determine which parties were responsible for your accident and hold each of them accountable for the harm and losses you endured.
- Handle all the settlement discussions and go after the just offer you need.
- Pursue litigation before a judge or a jury and fight for maximum financial recovery.
- Present to the court your pain and suffering injuries and help explain the extent of these injuries and the impacts they had on your ability to live the life you had before the accident.
For further information about pain and suffering damages and how much compensation you can claim following a car crash, contact a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible to schedule a free case consultation. Let a legal professional review your case and determine how they can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.