DETERMINING PAIN AND SUFFERING AFTER A CAR WRECK
Pain and suffering after a car wreck is a complicated topic. In a personal injury case, there’s documentation for medical bills, missed paychecks and painkiller prescriptions. The cost for it all is pretty cut and dried. But how do you put a number on what you went through?
Even a minor fender bender can cause sleepless nights and pounding stress headaches. And there’s no way to put a number on an accident that robs you of a limb or even worse, a loved one. Still, if the wreck happened when it could have been avoided, someone should pay for your pain and suffering.
WHAT IS PAIN AND SUFFERING?
Pain and suffering in a personal injury case can be both mental and physical. If you get rear-ended and receive a back injury, you experience physical pain that has a medical cause. You might also have emotional pain related to the wreck. It might keep you from doing things you enjoy. Rehab might be physically painful, and also leave you with less time for relationships and responsibilities.
Car accident victims or people who are hit by an 18-wheeler often experience fear or flashbacks they have to work through before they’re comfortable driving again. They don’t just miss work days, they worry about how that will impact their future, and sometimes that worry keeps them up at night. That worry might also cause ulcers, anxiety, depression or a host of other symptoms.
Sometimes victims never fully recover from what they experienced. A car accident might leave someone permanently disfigured, scarred by burns or without a limb. When a wreck claims a life, the heart never stops feeling the pain and suffering that go with grief.
Money can’t make the pain and suffering go away. Much of the time no amount could even come close. But we believe if someone caused pain through negligence, they should provide the victim with compensation.
METHODS FOR DETERMINING PAIN AND SUFFERING
Insurance companies have computer programs that calculate what different types of personal injury are worth in car accident and other cases. Attorneys also often follow formulas when they calculate values of pain and suffering in a personal injury claim. Here are two of the most common.
THE MULTIPLIER METHOD
Insurance companies refer to the easier-to-prove amounts as “specials” or “special damages.” Your medical expenses, rehab costs and the rest are all special damages tallied by adding up receipts.
Pain and suffering, on the other hand, is called “general damages.” Adjusters and attorneys often calculate a dollar amount by multiplying your special damages by a factor in line with how seriously you were injured, usually a number between one and five.
For example, let’s say you were in a fender bender and walked away with a sprained wrist. You went to the doctor and your x-rays, treatment and follow-up cost you $1,200. You also missed work, costing you another $300, so your total special damages are around $1,500.
The sprain was uncomfortable, and it kept you from being able to cook dinner for your family or pick up your toddler. You also didn’t sleep very well for several days after the accident. Your lawyer might recommend sending a demand letter with an amount that multiplies your special damages by two. In that case, you would ask for $1,500 for special damages and $3,000 for pain and suffering.
The more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier. A broken arm might have a multiplier of three, while a severe burn might be a five.
THE DAILY RATE METHOD
Another way attorneys and insurance companies evaluate pain and suffering is through the daily rate method. Basically, you assign a dollar amount to what your pain and suffering is worth, and multiply that by how many days you experienced it.
HOW VICTIMS PROVE PAIN AND SUFFERING
Most of the time, experts assume the more medical treatment you need, the greater your pain and suffering. Going to the doctor and following through with his or her treatment advice is one of the best things you can do both for your recovery and your personal injury case. Documentation might include the following:
- Your medical records
- Bills for care you received
- Statements from your physician
- Documentation of time off work
- Photos of your injuries
If you’re claiming insomnia, anxiety or depression as a result of your car wreck and personal injury, see a mental health professional. Their input can help support your claim. It’s also a good idea to keep a journal or diary to record what you experience. Don’t rely on memory alone during such a stressful time.
When you work with Monsour Law Firm, we can help you gather additional documentation to support your personal injury claim. We might gather statements from family and friends on how your life has changed or suggest other ways to document the pain and suffering you experience.
HOW INSURANCE ADJUSTERS APPROACH PAIN AND SUFFERING CLAIMS
They may seem sympathetic, but they’re not on your side. It’s hard for victims to negotiate a fair settlement without the help of a lawyer. But you don’t have to face this difficult situation alone.
A consultation is free, and we don’t receive any money unless you get a settlement. Let us help you get what you deserve when you schedule an appointment today.