How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Car Accident?

The law protects victims in accidents by allowing them to file insurance claims or even lawsuits regarding the payments they need to treat their injuries. Some of these expenses are economic, meaning that they can be easily calculated based on what’s already been spent. For example, your medical bills incurred up to the current point are examples of economic damages.

But economic damages are only one type of compensation available to you as an accident victim. You might also be eligible for non-economic damages in the form of pain and suffering payments.

Car accident victims often struggle to put the pieces of their life back together in a way that makes sense for them. This is because their daily activities and ability to work could become shattered in the few moments of a vehicle accident. Many of them are grappling with plenty of different questions after this process and will need the services of an experienced lawyer to help them. Chief among these questions is the topic of how much pain and suffering is worth in a car accident. Some of the other injuries in your accident may be easier to calculate, like your lost wages or your medical expenses. You've probably been receiving bills for these since you got hurt in the accident and have clear evidence supporting what you've had to undergo for your treatment. For example, you might bring medical bills of your physical therapy and rehabilitation costs, expenses for casts and other medical equipment needed and details about surgeries you've obtained. It can be difficult for the insurance carrier or another party to argue that this information is inaccurate, but pain and suffering is different because it relates to the non-economic damages that you've had to deal with due to the accident. Since this is subjective, it can be very hard to get the insurance carrier to accept what you allege are fair pain and suffering damages. Retaining a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help.

More answers to commonly asked questions

When looking for more information about how much pain and suffering is worth in a car accident you have to consider the other parties involved. You may file a lawsuit with your own insurance carrier or the insurance carrier of the other party. Each insurance carrier has their own methods for calculating damages. There is no standard or required method for evaluating pain and suffering, which makes it very difficult to prove in court. This is yet another reason to get an experienced lawyer on your side immediately after you have been diagnosed with one or more medical conditions from an accident. Your lawyer can easily paint the picture of how the medical conditions have changed your life but you will also need to rely on them to make a compelling argument about your pain and suffering damages. Most insurance companies have internal computer programs looking at multiple factors to complete these calculations to answer how much pain and suffering is worth after a car accident. 

This means that the payment they suggest for you can vary significantly based on the specifics of your accident and the insurance company. This is an essential component of your personal injury case, for example, and you might have to be prepared to fight about it if they do not present you with a fair offer. Your lawyer should start looking at pain and suffering damages at the beginning of your case. 

Research from Northwestern University School of Law evaluated the factors that influence the end settlement amount to answer the question of how much is pain and suffering worth after a car accident. When an insurance company is involved in this calculation, some of the issues included caps within the individual policy or whether or not the person took on a pain and suffering insurance policy for supplemental coverage, a cost algorithm, the types of injuries, the severity of injuries, local laws that might influence this amount, and the medical treatment needed.

In general, there is no strict limit about the amount of compensation you can recover for pain and suffering damages. However, certain states do have damage caps based on the kind of case. Florida's medical malpractice damage cap is $500,000 for pain and suffering damages. 

You've probably missed time at work, you're dealing with medical bills and spent time in the hospital. Pain and suffering can help you to accommodate for the many ways that your life has been affected by this accident but only when you receive a fair settlement offer. 

One of the most important components of how much pain and suffering is worth after a car accident has to do with your lawyer's ability to negotiate. The insurance company might offer a settlement amount relatively early on in the process. If you have retained the right lawyer who has already done pain and suffering calculations on your end and someone who has represented other victims in cases like this before, it will be much easier for you to attempt to suggest and fight for a higher offer. There are two primary methods used to calculate pain and suffering methods. 

The first is known as per diem and the second is known as the multiplier strategy. The per diem method translates to per day in which your full economic damages like lost wages and medical bills are totaled and assigned a daily cost. The pain and suffering damages your lawyer fights for will relate back to this original amount. 

The multiplier amount, however, assesses a number from 1 and 5 to your non-economic damages based on injury severity. More serious injuries lead to a higher number. The total amount possible incorporates your base economic damages multiplied by the severity number. You often shouldn't accept the first settlement offer presented by the insurance company because this may not incorporate all of your possible pain and suffering damages. 

The lump-sum offer can seem very tempting at the moment when you're already grappling with all of the financial impacts of your accident but you need to take a breather in this moment and rely on the support of your knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to verify that you have considered all other aspects of your claim.

Now that you know your rights, you understand that you don't necessarily need to accept the first settlement offer presented by the other side. This is especially true if you believe that your pain and suffering damages are far beyond what the insurance company alleges or is willing to offer.

This certainty can seem beneficial in the immediate future, but if you waive your right to pursue any future lawsuits or claims by accepting the settlement offer, you might find out down the road that you could have obtained more money. Since you likely don't have experience in this area of the law, it is beneficial to retain a personal injury lawyer who does and who can help advise you about situations in which the insurance company is attempting to take advantage of you.

If you are unable to come to terms of agreement with the insurance company, you may have to pursue a civil claim as your best effort to recover compensation. This is when it becomes all the more important to have a personal injury lawyer who has handled cases like this before and one who is ready to fight for you. Your lawyer can also give you further information specific to your case about when it is in your best interest to seriously consider a settlement offer before fighting back. 

If you’re not sure what to do next, your lawyer can help. You deserve to know what you might expect to receive in pain and suffering, but remember that your lawyer can only give you a general idea and that this is not a guarantee of what you might get. Instead, it is your lawyer's recommendation based on the perception of your case with all of the evidence you've previously provided to them. You can also benefit from your lawyer's past involvement in cases like this to give you a good idea of what other victims have walked away with in terms of pain and suffering payments. Remember, however, that each case is unique. 

For more information about how to prepare for economic damages and some of the challenges you might experience in that process, contact the experts at Morgan & Morgan for a free case evaluation to get started on the road to recovery. Don’t let time slip by, as this could be valuable time to prepare your case.