How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident?By Stewart J. Guss on March 26th, 2020
Car accidents cause a shockingly high number of injuries every year. They’re also responsible for another type of agony that’s harder to track: pain and suffering.
A car accident can cause significant mental trauma. Whether that means PTSD flashbacks of the crash or anxiety attacks behind the wheel, it’s tough to cope. Thousands of accidents happen on our roads each year, and many of them change lives forever.
Are you a victim of one of those thousands of accidents? If so, then you deserve to get paid for your anguish – and we’re not just talking about your out-of-pocket costs.
The pain and suffering a car accident put you through might not have come with a price tag attached, but it is just as real to you as that massive medical bill is.
Consult with an experienced car accident attorney to learn how much money you deserve for your pain and suffering after a car accident.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
It seems simple enough: if someone causes a car accident that injures you, then that person (or their insurance company) should write you a check to reimburse you for any costs you have as a result: medical bills, lost wages, etc. You’ll probably have invoices, receipts, and other documentation to prove these amounts.
But what about your pain and suffering, the harm that doesn’t necessarily drain your bank account, but still makes your quality of life take a nosedive? While they may take weeks or months to show up, you could be faced with recurring nightmares and flashbacks about the accident. Your relationships with your loved ones may suffer, and you may be disappointed you’re unable to join in activities with them while you heal. You should get paid for this anguish, emotional difficulty, and physical discomfort a car accident causes, shouldn’t you?
Of course you should.
A good lawyer will take you seriously, while the insurance company may try to invalidate your feelings and dismiss your suffering. In personal injury lawsuits, pain and suffering is a category of damages just like any other. It puts a dollar value on the ways a car accident injury impacted you physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.
In other words, it pays you for things like:
- When you cannot get through a day of work without relying on pain medication
- When you can’t hold your child in your arms, because of your injuries
- Seeing peoples’ reactions to your disabilities or scars
- Missing the activities and hobbies that you love
- Struggling to stand or sit without agony
- New fears and anxiety related to driving
- The stress and strain on your intimate and personal relationships
These are just some examples. Basically, damages for pain and suffering aim to compensate you for all of the difficulty and struggle a car accident injury has put you through.
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
The number placed on your pain and suffering often depends on who does the calculating.
The Professionals’ Shorthand Method: Damage “Multipliers”
Professionals who work in personal injury law—lawyers and insurance adjusters, mostly—frequently use “multipliers” to calculate pain and suffering damages. Basically, they tally up all of a car accident victim’s out-of-pocket costs—medical bills, lost wages, other injury-related expenses—and multiply the total by a number that estimates how badly the victim has suffered. The total result is the amount a victim should receive for “pain and suffering” (a.k.a. “non-economic “) damages and out-of-pocket (a.k.a. “economic”) damages.
How a Jury Does It: What Seems “Reasonable”?
Of course, the amount of pain and suffering damages a car accident victim should get is not always up to lawyers and insurance companies. When a car accident case goes to trial, a jury gets to decide how much you deserve for your pain and suffering. Juries do not have a set of rules to follow when it comes to awarding pain and suffering damages. Instead, they use their sense of justice to figure out what is reasonable in a case.
While this can mean your lawyer can fight for a very large pain and suffering damage award, there is no guarantee. The risk of facing a big jury award, however, can help to push insurance companies to offer a reasonable settlement instead of testing their luck at trial. Insurance companies can feel especially motivated to offer a fair settlement when they know the injured accident victim’s lawyer has a reputation for winning big cases. Do your research and enlist the help of a car accident attorney who is prepared to fight for you in court, and who has a proven track record of wins.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Increase the Amount of a Pain and Suffering Award?
Let’s be clear: you cannot and must not do anything that makes your pain and suffering itself worse in hopes of getting more money. That’s a terrible idea that will backfire without a doubt. Nor should you exaggerate your pain and suffering. Juries and insurance companies award people money when they appear honest and try their best to heal. Attending recommended physical – and mental – therapy appointments can help you cope.
Call a Lawyer
You can, however, take steps to protect your rights to a pain and suffering award. The single most important step? You guessed it: contacting an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. An attorney can help you get justice in all kinds of ways, including negotiating the maximum amount of pain and suffering damages.
How do lawyers work their magic? They can:
- Investigate how car accidents happened and what their effects were, so when it comes time to calculate pain and suffering damages, there’s a full understanding of the facts and a strong case.
- Negotiate fiercely with insurance companies that would just LOVE to find a reason not to pay our clients the full pain and suffering damages they deserve.
- Litigate in trial courts to explain to judges and juries why the “reasonable” amount of pain and suffering damages is the MAXIMUM amount we have requested.
An initial consultation with an attorney is always free, and car accident attorneys work on a “contingency basis,” which means they only get paid if you get paid.
You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Beware Insurance Company Tricks
Pain and suffering is subjective. This means it’s open to interpretation and depends a lot on the person who got hurt. A “tough guy” with a really bad injury might seem to “suffer” less than a small child with a broken arm, but the truth is, both of them deserve compensation for their pain and suffering.
Subjective injuries give insurance companies wiggle-room to argue over what they should pay you. And you better believe, they look for any reason to give you less than you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Here are just a few of the tricks insurance companies might use to nickel-and-dime you over the amount of money you should get for your pain and suffering:
- Social media sleuthing. Insurance adjusters love social media. For them, it’s like a gift that never stops giving. See, social media has become a place where we tend to present a glossy, “best possible” version of their lives. In the pictures we post, everybody is always smiling, sunrises are always beautiful, and life always looks pretty darn great. Except, of course, it isn’t. So, guess what happens when an insurance adjuster does some creeping and finds a picture of you looking “happy,” when your lawyer has been arguing that you have endured massive pain and suffering? That’s right – your social media posts get thrown back in your lawyer’s face. So, here’s a suggestion: take a break from Facebook and Insta for now, okay?
- Real, live sleuthing. Insurance companies have also been known to send real, live investigators to track down injured car accident victims to see if they can snap a picture or take a video of a moment that doesn’t look all that painful or despondent. So, don’t push yourself, and be aware of what you say and do in public. It’s so easy to take a picture or video out of context, and insurance companies are just itching for that opportunity to make it look like your life is hunky-dory.
- Lowball settlement offers (sometimes accompanied by “Let’s not get lawyers involved…”). Here’s a pro tip: If an insurance company representing the party at fault in your car accident calls you out-of-the-blue and offers you money to settle a car accident injury claim, say no and immediately call your lawyer. This isn’t a stroke of luck. An insurance company that offers you money directly is actually WORRIED it owes you WAY MORE than that offer, and hopes you will jump at “quick money” in exchange for giving up your valuable legal rights. It’s a trick. Don’t fall for it.
An experienced car accident injury attorney knows all about these tricks and how to protect you from them. But they can’t begin to help you until you call them. If you want to get the MOST money for pain and suffering, then hire an attorney who will fight aggressively to get you every penny you deserve. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, to get the most money for your pain and suffering, it’s imperative that you take care of yourself. Go to the doctor. Follow the doctor’s advice. Take your medicine. Do your best to heal from your injuries and rebuild your life. The highest pain and suffering damages get paid to people who show that they are trying hard to recover and adjust to life after a car accident.
Get the Legal Help You Need
After a car accident, you don’t have to deal with your pain and suffering all alone. You deserve – and need – a strong advocate in your corner. You need help to get the money you need. You need help to return to your life and the things you love.
Don’t wait to reach out.
Every day that passes after your accident could be another lost opportunity to secure compensation. Protect your rights and build the strongest possible argument for pain and suffering damages. Contact an experienced car accident attorney today.