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

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

Car accident victims who suffer physical injuries can also face mental anguish and financial burdens on top of their physical pain. If you sustained pain and suffering damages in a Houston area crash, the law permits you to seek compensation for all of your injuries. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may be entitled to request damages for both economic and non-economic losses related to the accident and your injuries.

You've probably heard of pain and suffering, but do you know what makes up pain and suffering damages, and how much can you expect to receive for pain and suffering compensation? Since every auto accident case is different, it's difficult to provide specific pain and suffering settlement examples that are similar to your potential claim. Let's review the types of damages you might request after a Houston vehicle crash and see how pain and suffering car accident losses play into your potential recovery.

What is the Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages?

Economic damages include losses that are easy to quantify and prove. These damages are usually proved by a written receipt or other documentation and may include medical treatment costs, lost income, and vehicle damage.

Non-economic damages cannot be easily valued with a written statement. These damages may include diminished quality of life, loss of consortium, mental anguish, and other ways car accident injuries have impacted someone’s life. Pain and suffering from a car accident is the most common type of non-economic damage crash victims recover in a personal injury lawsuit.

Calculating pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is far more challenging than calculating economic losses. It’s easy to add up medical bills, lost income from work, property damage, and other expenses after a car accident. A skilled Houston car accident lawyer will rely on a wide range of tools and evidence to place a monetary value on someone’s pain and suffering after sustaining car accident injuries.

Below, we take a closer look at what constitutes pain and suffering damages, the factors that impact pain and suffering settlement amounts in a car accident claim, and the evidence lawyers review to determine a fair value for an auto collision claim.

What Constitutes Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident in Houston?

If you were in a crash and sustained physical injuries because of another driver’s negligence, you intuitively understand pain and suffering. However, the abstract notion of pain and suffering has a more specific definition in the legal community, especially in the context of car accident claims. At the most basic legal level, pain and suffering refer to the physical pain and mental anguish someone faces due to injuries caused by another party’s negligence.

Depending on the exact circumstances of your car accident, pain and suffering might include a wide range of physical and emotional characteristics of injuries, for example:

  • Specific physical pain from the accident, including fractures, brain injuries, back injuries, and crushed limbs
  • Chronic physical pain stemming from car accident injuries
  • Temporary and permanent restrictions on activity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health struggles
  • Embarrassment, humiliation, and other negative emotions from visible scars from burns, amputations, and other injuries that cause disfigurement

Ultimately, pain and suffering speak to the ways car accident injuries have impacted all aspects of a victim’s life. Some examples of how the characteristics above can translate into everyday struggles include:

  • Being unable to get through the day without taking pain medication
  • Being unable to hold your child because of injuries
  • Watching people react to your scars and other injuries
  • Missing out on your favorite activities and hobbies
  • Difficulty standing and sitting without agonizing pain
  • Fear and anxiety about driving
  • Loss of intimacy and struggles with personal relationships

A compassionate personal injury lawyer will review your case and discuss your injuries to get a better idea of how much your pain and suffering is worth in your car accident claim.

Factors That Affect How Much Car Accident Pain and Suffering Is Worth

Many factors impact the amount of compensation someone might receive for pain and suffering in their car accident claim. Examples of factors lawyers should evaluate to determine an amount for pain and suffering pain and suffering include:

The Severity of Your Injuries

As a general rule of thumb, the more severe injuries someone suffers in a car accident, the more compensation they might receive for pain and suffering amounts in a settlement or a jury verdict in their favor. For example, someone who breaks their leg and sprains their wrist in a car accident definitely feels physical pain, but they often recover within a few months. They might have to wear a brace or a cast and use crutches but usually can return to normal activity in six to ten weeks.

However, someone who sustains a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury in a car accident may suffer permanent brain damage or damage to the nervous system. This injury victim can expect more compensation for pain and suffering. More severe injuries also require hospitalization for days or weeks, increasing the value of pain and suffering for severe car accident victims.

The Nature of Your Injuries

The nature of a car accident victim’s injury also factors into how much pain and suffering is worth in their claim. Some injuries leave victims with massive amounts of trauma, resulting in anger, frustration, and humiliation. Car accident victims who suffer disfigurement or have permanent scars from their injuries typically are justified in seeking more compensation for pain and suffering.

The location of an injury on someone’s body is another aspect of the nature of an injury that can affect the value of pain and suffering in a car accident claim. For example, someone who has a permanent scar on their face will often recover more damage than someone with a less visible scar on their back or hip.

What is the Long-Term Prognosis?

The severity and nature of car accident injuries strongly correlate with someone’s chances for a full recovery. Complex and severe injuries need an extensive amount of time for healing and rehabilitation.

Unfortunately, full recovery is not always achievable, even after months of physical therapy and other treatments. Severe injuries and multiple injuries from a car accident sometimes make it difficult for doctors to know how long someone needs to heal or if they can make a full recovery.

This is especially true for spinal cord injuries, back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Car accident victims who are unlikely to fully recover usually receive more money for pain and suffering. A skilled Houston auto accident lawyer will speak with your physician about your long-term prognosis to determine a reasonable amount of compensation for pain and suffering.

Did You Suffer a Total Economic Loss?

Total economic loss makes up a large portion of all personal injury claims, including those involving car accidents. Economic losses usually include expenses for ambulance transport, emergency room services, hospitalization, surgery, prescriptions, doctor visits, lost income, and other expenses related to car accident injuries.

Lawyers and insurance companies calculate economic loss by adding up receipts and bills. Those who have large amounts of economic loss often receive more money for pain and suffering from a car accident. Severe injuries can create economic hardship for crash victims and their families. Sometimes households face bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossession, and more. Financial challenges add mental stress to accident victims, increasing their pain and suffering.

What are the Available Insurance Policy Limits?

Most car accident injury lawsuits involve an insurance claim. Even those who suffer injuries because of an uninsured driver will likely file a claim under their own auto insurance policy. The coverage limit might factor into the amount your attorney estimates for pain and suffering damages, especially if the insurance policy limit is low.

Lawyers figure out economic loss first because it’s easy to add up expenses and easier to prove these documented costs. If the monetary value of pain and suffering puts the total value of a car collision insurance claim over the policy limit, you might need to reduce the amount of non-economic losses you claim, including pain and suffering.

How Insurance Companies Devalue Your Auto Accident Claim

Regardless of the value of pain and suffering damages in your car accident claim, you need to be aware of the tricky tactics insurance companies use to reduce the value of your claim. The main issue with pain and suffering is that it is highly subjective and open to interpretation. A large, muscular man or woman with high pain tolerance who broke an arm might seem to have less pain and suffering than a child who breaks an arm. Yet, both deserve compensation for pain and suffering if someone else caused the accident that led to their injuries.

Insurance companies use the subjective nature of pain and suffering to deny claims or pay the least amount possible. Here are examples of strategies some insurance carriers use to reduce the value of pain and suffering related to car accident claims.

Social Media Sleuthing

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media networks give people the chance to present their lives in the best possible way. Posts, especially those with photos, show happy people who are always smiling, having fun with their families, and engaging in various physical activities. Even someone who has recently suffered severe car accident pictures can post items on social media that reflect positivity and a lack of pain.

Insurance adjusters investigate social media and look for anything they can use to devalue a claim. The most seemingly harmless post can give them ammunition to argue your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim or that you are healing better than expected. It’s best to avoid all social media posts until your car accident injury claim is resolved.

In-person Investigation

It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to send out investigators to track down injured car accident victims, especially if they have a high-value claim. These investigators are searching for a moment where a victim doesn’t appear to be in pain or suffering in any way. Whether you are putting on a brave face in public so others won't know how you are feeling or you actually feel pretty good because you are finally receiving some pain relief after taking pain medication, how you act in public could come back and bite you.

The insurance company will use these types of pictures or videos to argue that your injuries are not that severe. Always be aware of your surroundings and be careful what you say or do in public so you do not give an investigator a picture or video they can use against you.

Early Settlement Offers

You might hear from the other side’s insurance carrier relatively quickly after suffering injuries in a car collision. When insurance carriers know their policyholders are at fault, they know they are going to have to pay a claim. In these cases, they do whatever they can to pay the least amount possible.

Making an early settlement offer, often far lower than the true value of a claim, is a common tactic. They offer enough money to tempt car accident victims to “take the money now without getting lawyers involved.” If you accept the offer, this ensures the insurance company will not have to pay more later.

When you accept a settlement offer, you waive your right to any additional compensation in the future. It’s in your best interest to let an experienced injury lawyer handle settlement communications and review all offers to ensure you get every penny you deserve for your car accident injuries.

Experienced car accident lawyers know the tactics insurance companies use and can often anticipate them. Additionally, a lawyer can often negotiate a much higher amount for your car accident claim and give you the best chances of getting the most money possible for your pain and suffering.

Follow Doctors’ Orders to Get the Most Money for Pain and Suffering Damages

After suffering crash injuries, it’s imperative that you attend all follow-up appointments and strictly follow your treatment plan. You need to take every measure possible to fully recover from your injuries and go on with your life. Those who demonstrate they have followed doctors’ orders and are still struggling typically get the most for pain and suffering damages.

Those who do not follow their treatment plan give the other side the chance to argue that the victim's injuries are bad because they are not listening to recommendations from their doctor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other specialist involved in their treatment.

To Recover the Pain and Suffering Damages You Deserve After a Car Accident, Trust Guss

You do not have to deal with your pain and suffering by yourself after a car accident. An experienced Houston car accident lawyer at Stewart J. Guss Injury Accident Lawyers can guide you through the legal process and advocate for you each step of the way. They can focus on the details of your claim while you focus on healing from your injuries to the extent your body will let you.

It costs you nothing to consult with us. During a free consultation, you can tell us about your car accident and how your injuries have affected your life. The sooner you contact our dedicated car accident attorneys, the sooner we can begin working on your case. Call us at (855) 752-0140 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation today.