How much is pain and suffering in a car accident?

April 14, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
How much is pain and suffering in a car accident?

If you have ever been in a car accident, your injury will affect your life in several ways. Of course, you must immediately pay bills, including your share of the medical expenses. In addition, the financial effects of the injury will continue to multiply because you may be missing time from your job. These damages are only part of your personal injury claim. Pain and suffering are a large part of your case and can be a sizable proportion of your settlement or award. Therefore, you must understand these damages and know how to calculate them, and an experienced car accident attorney in Texas can guide you in learning the value of your settlement.

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Before you can even begin to discuss the specifics of pain and suffering damages, you need to be in a position where you are legally entitled to financial compensation. You have the burden of proof to show someone else was responsible for your accident and must submit sufficient evidence to the insurance company or the jury if your case goes to trial. Once you meet your burden of proof, the other driver’s insurance company will have the legal obligation to pay you damages.

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Pain and Suffering Compensates You for Your Ordeal

Pain and suffering refers to the overall experience of your accident, and you can be affected in many ways, including the physical pain that you will suffer. You will be in apparent and continued discomfort due to the accident injuries that will impact your daily life.

The physical pain that you are suffering from will also lead to other effects, and the combination of the pain and the uncertainty related to the accident can lead to depression and anxiety. Accident victims often report that they do not feel like themselves after the accident for a long time. You may require mental health treatment to cope with the trauma, and your injuries and nervousness can even keep you from sleeping at night.

In addition to the depression and anxiety, you may also be dealing with the lingering effects of the accident itself and may end up in emotional distress. You can have flashbacks to the moment of the accident and the immediate aftermath and may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps you from living your daily life.

You may find that you can no longer enjoy your life as you had before the accident. Hobbies and other things that make you happy are now impossible in light of your physical injuries. You can receive compensation because you are missing out on what you previously enjoyed.

Other elements of pain and suffering for which you can get financial reimbursement include:

  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Anger
  • Inconvenience

Your car accident attorney will look extensively at your situation before finding a number you may deserve in a pain and suffering award. They will review your life situation to learn how you have been affected, knowing there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

Insurance companies have a formula for everything, especially when they can use it to their advantage, and pain and suffering damages are no different. They will try to use one of two formulas, which may shortchange you.

The Multiplier Method

Insurance companies will often use the multiplier method to calculate pain and suffering. They will use this method when you have suffered an injury that is permanent or impacts you for an extended period.

The multiplier method begins with the costs of your medical care, both past and future. Insurance companies will multiply this by a number based on the severity of your injury, and more severe injuries will have a higher multiplier. For example, if you suffer a back injury, you may expect the multiplier to be one or two, whereas if you suffer a spinal cord injury, the multiplier can be as high as five.

Insurance companies use a multiplier to inject some objectivity into the process. However, given what pain and suffering represents, it is supposed to be an inherently subjective calculation based on you.

The Per Diem Method

If your injury is one that you will recover from after a fixed time, insurance companies may use the per diem method to calculate pain and suffering damages.

Here, insurance companies will assign a daily value to your pain and suffering each day until you fully recover. The more serious the injury, the higher your per diem payment will be.

Of course, the insurance companies can diminish your compensation in two ways:

  • They will underestimate the severity of your injury and assign a lower value than you deserve
  • They may claim that you have fully recovered from your injuries long before you are

Insurance companies' actual method of calculating your pain and suffering can also make a difference. They may opt for one form of calculation when it means that they pay a lower amount of money.

Factors That Can Affect Your Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering damages should depend on the individual accident victim, where some people may be more susceptible than others to being more affected by the accident. The legal rule in a personal injury case is that "you take your victim as you find them." If the plaintiff was more likely to be severely affected by the accident injuries, the responsible party must still pay for all the damages.

 Pain and Suffering

Various factors can enhance or diminish your pain and suffering award. One thing that can cause insurance companies to cut the amount they offer you is when they try to blame you for the accident. Then, they can try to reduce the amount of money you get by the percentage you were at fault for. Your car accident attorney must defend your actions and keep the insurance company from unfairly blaming you to save money.

Some factors should enhance your pain and suffering damages, including:

  • You have developed severe emotional distress as a result of the accident.
  • You were already prone to an extreme reaction to stress and injury.
  • The defendant acted extremely recklessly (this will increase the chances that you may receive punitive damages because the jury will want to send a message to punish the defendant and discourage such conduct in the future).

You will need to prove that you have suffered a severe reaction to the accident and should have extensive treatment notes from a mental health professional who can document the issues that you have been experiencing. 

Documenting Your Pain and Suffering

You must document your story as thoroughly as possible to tell it effectively. Insurance companies are looking for a way to dispute what you are saying or to disregard you entirely and will never give you the benefit of the doubt. The more that you have down on paper, the harder it will be for them to ignore your pain and suffering. 

You must see a mental health professional to treat you when you are suffering from anxiety and depression because they will make treatment notes about what they have observed. These records can form the basis for your pain and suffering damages. If you have not sought treatment, insurance companies may question whether you are even dealing with depression and anxiety in the first place.

Working with a Lawyer to Enhance Your Recovery from Pain and Suffering

You must tell your personal story with lots of details and documentation. Otherwise, you are just a number to the insurance company instead of a unique and individual accident victim. Your personal injury lawyer will do the following:

  • Review the facts of your case to determine how much you may deserve in pain and suffering damages
  • Document the effect that the accident has had on your life and include it in your claim or lawsuit
  • Negotiate with the insurance company to achieve the highest possible financial recovery for your pain and suffering damages
  • Take your case to court if the insurance company refuses to offer you adequate compensation for your claim

Your Car Accident Lawyer Will Fight to Maximize Your Financial Recovery

Your lawyer's main priorities are to help maximize the value of your claim and keep the insurance company from pushing you around. If the insurance company is not offering you enough money, your lawyer will advise you to reject any settlement offer that does not fairly pay you. They will continue negotiations until there is a much more reasonable settlement offer that you can accept. If that is not forthcoming, your attorney can take the case to court and have a jury determine how much you may be due in damages.

You should always hire a lawyer in any personal injury case so you know how much money you can get for your damages. Subjective areas, such as pain and suffering, can be challenging to value, and insurance companies will try to take advantage of this information advantage to get away with paying you less. You may be happy you got a settlement without realizing you might have received far more.

Your attorney can always negotiate to get you more money in an accident settlement. Just because insurance companies offer you a certain amount of money does not mean that your case is worth that much. They will always begin by trying to give you less than you deserve, and your lawyer will stand up for you in demanding more compensation for your injuries.

There Is No Financial Risk to You When Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

Getting the legal help you need in a personal injury case costs no money. You will not have to pay a retainer or any hourly bills and will only have to pay your attorney if and when you win. Then, that money comes from the proceeds of your settlement or award. If you think you are saving money by handling your claim alone, you can think again. People who hire lawyers for their personal injury cases regularly receive more money for their damages, even after paying a lawyer their percentage of the financial compensation.

How Contingency Fees Work?

Contingency fees are a common arrangement in legal representation, particularly in personal injury and certain civil cases. In this arrangement, the attorney's fees are contingent upon the successful outcome of the case.

  • Clients do not pay any upfront fees or retainer to their attorney. The attorney covers the costs associated with pursuing the case, such as filing fees, investigation expenses, and expert witness fees.
  • The attorney's fees are contingent on the successful resolution of the case, typically through a settlement or a favorable court judgment. If the case is unsuccessful, the attorney does not receive a fee, and the client is not responsible for paying their legal fees.
  • The attorney's fee is usually calculated as a percentage of the monetary award or settlement obtained for the client. This percentage is agreed upon between the attorney and the client at the beginning of the representation.
  • Contingency fee arrangements create a win-win incentive for both the client and the attorney. The client can pursue legal action without financial risk, and the attorney is motivated to secure the maximum possible recovery for the client, as their fee is tied to the outcome.
  • Contingency fees enhance access to justice, allowing individuals who might not afford legal representation to pursue valid claims. It levels the playing field, enabling clients with meritorious cases to seek legal redress without worrying about upfront costs.

Consult a Car Accident Attorney Right Away

Michael Francis, Texas Car Accident Attorney

If you've been in a car accident, consulting a car accident attorney right away is crucial. Time is of the essence in preserving evidence, understanding your rights, and navigating the complex legal process. An attorney can assess your case, communicate with insurance companies, and advocate for your rights to ensure you receive fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Early legal intervention enhances your chances of a favorable outcome and helps protect your rights during the claims process.

Don't delay—consult a car accident attorney promptly for legal guidance and advocacy.