What to Know About Suing for Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident
Pain and suffering is the emotional or physical stress associated with an accident and all resulting injuries. Legally, this can be defined as the type of damages meant for compensating unique agony or grief that a victim faces after an accident or that which he or she is likely to experience later in time.
How Do Pain and Suffering Differ from Other Accident Damages?
Mental suffering and pain damages can manifest themselves in many different ways, including:
- Mood swings
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental disorders
Even though many other damages from auto accidents such as lost wages and medical bills are easy and straightforward to calculate, pain and suffering damages can be hard to quantify.
Regarding personal injury claims, you are only paid for what you lose as a result of the vehicle accident. When it comes to pain and suffering damages, however, money is never a sufficient replacement. Additionally, the actual value of pain and suffering, although difficult to place a dollar figure on, can still be estimated by professionals.
How Is a Pain and Suffering Settlement Determined?
An array of factors come into play when valuing damage claims for pain and suffering. These include:
- The length of time your physical pain has lasted, and how long it is expected to last in the future
- How the accident affects you physically, and whether you’ve suffered disfigurement or other permanent injuries
- The type and number of treatments or medical procedures required for your mental and physical pain
- How well you are able to explain and describe your pain and suffering to the judge or jury
- How people close to you have observed you behave versus how you used to behave before the auto accident
- Severity – The more severe your pain and suffering is, the more compensation you’ll likely get
How Much Is a Pain and Suffering Claim Worth?
Insurance companies use a number of methods to calculate the value of your personal injury claim. The settlement amount is usually combined with lost wages and medical bills. Here are a few common formulas used in evaluating pain and suffering.
The Multiplier Method
Many personal injury attorneys multiply actual losses by three to arrive at a reasonable pain and suffering damages amount. This means that if you spent $4,000 on medical bills and had $1,000 as lost wages, you can multiply the sum of these two, which is $5,000, by three, for a total of $15,000 in pain and suffering damages.
Today, though, insurers are becoming increasingly reluctant to do this, claiming that a multiple of three is not a fair number to quantify pain and suffering. The approach they prefer is to take your actual damages and multiply them with a figure arrived at by complex software programs. This multiplier is based on the severity of your injuries, the time it will take you to recover, and other aggravating circumstances. Less serious injuries will use a lower multiplier, while more complex injuries will use higher-value multipliers.
The Daily Rate Method
Also known as the “per diem” calculation, this method assigns a monetary value to each week or day of suffering of the victim, starting from the time the accident occurred. A daily figure for pain and suffering is assigned and totaled from the day of the accident until whenever it is projected to cease.
Pain and Suffering Damages Limits
According to Texas legal statutes, there are a number of limits that exist with regards to winning a settlement for pain and suffering. The main exemption is on motorists who are not properly insured. Such individuals do not have the right to file for non-economic damages. This exemption, however, would be waived if, for example, a drunk driver hits an uninsured driver.
Victims of minor accidents may also find it hard to claim pain and suffering damages. Minor injuries involve low levels of trauma, making it harder for someone to prove mental or physical pain and suffering that resulted from them.
Get Expert Legal Help
Dealing with insurance companies, their adjusters and lawyers, and negotiating claims values within the complexities of insurance and auto law can be difficult and frustrating. You need the help and guidance of an experienced lawyer who specializes in these kinds of claims to help you along the way and carry your case from filing all the way to its eventual conclusion. Call us today for a free consultation at 713-677-2159. Our services are contingency-based, so you pay nothing until you actually win your case. Call now.