When filing a car accident claim, clients are naturally curious as to how much money they can expect to recover. Expenses like surgeries or car repairs are clear and simple; the dollar amounts are printed right there on your bills and invoices.
But what about the aches, the pains, the sleepless nights, and the other distress your accident left you with? You may be eligible for compensation for these losses as well.
A car accident lawyer can determine how much you should ask for pain and suffering from a car accident. They will consider the following:
- The severity of your car accident
- The specific types of pain and suffering you have experienced
- How long your pain and suffering is likely to last
- How your daily life is affected
- The share of liability for your accident
- The cost of treatment for pain and suffering
Pain and suffering do not always have a clear cost, but a lawyer knows the various ways to calculate pain and suffering and will determine the value of this loss for you.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
In a legal sense, pain and suffering is a category of damages. It is a type of non-economic loss for which you may receive compensation.
Pain and suffering may include:
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Temporary pain from injuries
- Chronic pain
- Permanent injury symptoms like nerve damage and brain damage
- Permanent scars and disfigurement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Diminished quality of life
Each car accident victim copes with the aftermath in their own way; pain and suffering may account for the types of harm that are generally difficult to quantify.
What Types of Pain and Suffering Result from a Wrongful Death?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains that speeding and impaired driving are often responsible for fatal traffic accidents. When negligence causes a fatal car accident, pain and suffering inevitably occur.
Recoverable forms of pain and suffering from a fatal accident may include:
- Physical pain that the deceased experienced before they passed away
- Emotional anguish and distress that the deceased experienced
- The grief of surviving loved ones
- Loss of a spouse, parent, or child and the support they once provided
Surviving loved ones may also receive compensation for treatment of pain and suffering. Grief counseling, medication, therapy, and other forms of treatment may be recoverable damages.
Who Can Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
After a car accident, you may receive compensation for pain and suffering if:
- You have losses that qualify as pain and suffering,
- You can prove that someone is liable for your pain and suffering, and
- You can prove the existence of those losses.
What Is the Legal Standard to Receive Awards for Pain and Suffering?
Negligence is generally the standard for liability in car accident cases. By demonstrating that someone was negligent in causing your accident, we may prove that they are financially responsible for your pain and suffering.
Establishing negligence generally requires us to prove that:
- The negligent party owed you a duty of care.
- The negligent party breached their duty of care.
- The breach of duty of care caused your car accident.
- You suffered damages from the car accident.
The NHTSA explains that driver negligence often causes accidents. Recognition, decision, and performance errors may all qualify as negligence.
A negligent motorist may pay for your pain and suffering through a settlement or judgment. Others, like employers of negligent motorists and vehicle manufacturers who produced a defective product, may also be liable for your losses.
What Factors Determine the Cost of Pain and Suffering?
Though pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage, we will assign your pain and suffering a monetary value. When calculating the value of your pain and suffering, your lawyer will consider:
- The type of injuries you suffered from your car accident
- The severity of your injuries
- The medical treatment you will require
- Whether you have long-term or even permanent injury symptoms
- The expected length of time your pain and suffering will last
- The degree to which your pain and suffering interferes with your daily life
- Whether you lost someone in a car accident
We may consider other factors as we calculate your pain and suffering. Our calculation may determine how much compensation you can ask for your pain and suffering after a car accident.
Methods Lawyers and Insurance Companies Use to Value Pain and Suffering
There are different mathematical methods for calculating the value of pain and suffering. Two of the most common are:
- The per diem method
- The multiplier method
Without focusing on the math, know that either method could accurately calculate the cost of your pain and suffering. Your lawyer will determine which method is most appropriate based on your case facts. If an insurance company or another attorney disagrees with the chosen method, then your lawyer will handle any such disagreement.
How to Prove Your Pain and Suffering?
In car accident cases, your ability to prove your losses may affect the value of your settlement or judgment. We can prove the nature of your pain and suffering by:
- Obtaining written or oral evaluation from a mental health professional
- Obtaining records of treatment of pain and suffering, like bills for medication and counseling
- Obtaining medical assessments of your injuries and symptoms
- Securing financial records for your current medical treatment and projections for your future medical treatment
- Obtaining testimony from loved ones, friends, employers, and others who have witnessed your pain and suffering
- Seeking any other proof that explains your pain and suffering
The more evidence we can collect, the stronger your case will generally be.
What Is the Average Settlement for Pain and Suffering?
The public cannot access every settlement figure resulting from car accident cases. Therefore, we cannot say what the average settlement for pain and suffering is. However, our team may be able to tell exactly what your settlement should be worth.
The unique ramifications of your car accident are relevant to your settlement value. A particularly serious injury, a disabling injury, or the loss of a loved one all justify a greater-than-average settlement value.
Can You Receive Awards for Pain And Suffering if You Have Partial Fault?
Depending on which state your accident occurred in, yes, you may receive awards even if you share fault for your accident.
States with comparative negligence laws generally allow those with partial fault to pursue awards.
In such states, those who have less liability for an accident may pursue awards. This generally includes awards for pain and suffering. The party seeking awards must have less than 50% fault for the accident if they hope to receive compensation. Generally, they may need to have significantly less than 50% fault to obtain awards of any consequence.
Accidents where multiple parties may be negligent include:
- A collision where one colliding motorist is intoxicated, but another colliding motorist ran a red light
- A collision where one colliding motorist was distracted and failed to see another colliding motorist who changed lanes dangerously
- A collision where one colliding motorist slammed on their brakes without reason, but another colliding motorist failed to maintain a safe distance, causing a rear-end collision as a result
In each of these examples, both motorists did something to increase the risk of a collision. Whether it is a dangerous driving act, distraction, or intoxication, each motorist engaged in negligent behavior.
Determining the share of liability in such accidents can be difficult, but it is necessary. If your lawyer determines that you are less liable for your accident than another motorist, then you may receive coverage for your losses.
Should You Hire a Lawyer to Pursue Coverage of Your Pain and Suffering?
Many car accident victims turn to lawyers for help after a car accident. They do so because they’re hurt, stressed, overwhelmed, and unfamiliar with insurance companies. They simply don’t have time to handle a claim or lawsuit, and they recognize the benefits that a lawyer can provide. Let’s explore some of those benefits below.
The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for a Car Accident Case
The benefits of hiring a lawyer may fall into two general categories: 1) what a lawyer will do for you, and 2) what you do not have to do because you hire a lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer will handle your car accident claim from start to finish. Because you have a lawyer leading your case, you will not have to worry about negotiating with insurance companies or other lawyers. Instead, you can focus on your recovery. In fact, health-related benefits may be a significant reason for you to hire a lawyer.
By choosing to pass your case onto a lawyer, you will:
- Be free to rest.
- Have more time to receive treatment.
- Avoid stress that car accident cases can cause.
- Avoid any stress-related health problems.
From a health-specific perspective, hiring a lawyer to handle your case is a smart decision.
Your Lawyer Will Learn Everything About Your Accident
The Insurance Information Institute (III) lists the most dangerous crash types as:
- Angled collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Sideswipe collisions
The III ranks these crash types by their fatality rate. Remember, though, that any type of car accident can cause serious harm, including pain and suffering. Your lawyer will investigate and research your accident and how it has impacted your life.
Their investigation may include:
- Visiting your accident scene
- Photographing property damage to vehicles
- Examining points of impact
- Interviewing witnesses who saw your accident
- Obtaining the police report of your accident
- Seeking video footage from traffic cameras, dashboard cameras, and nearby buildings’ security cameras
Experts may also help us gather and interpret evidence from your accident.
Your Lawyer Will Learn Everything About Your Injuries and Losses
Injuries may be the primary motivation for your lawsuit or claim. Your lawyer will learn about your injuries so that they can negotiate effectively.
During this process, they may:
- Rely on in-house medical experts to explain your injuries
- Obtain and analyze images and doctors’ assessments of your injuries
- Speak with your doctors, who can explain your injuries and your treatment plan
- Stay in contact with your healthcare providers to monitor health changes
The comprehensive medical information that your lawyer gathers will help them determine the cost of your losses.
Your Lawyer Will Deal with Insurance Companies and Attorneys
Insurance companies are a fixture of car accident cases. Whether or not you agree to an insurance settlement, your lawyer may need to deal with insurance companies in some capacity.
Because you have a lawyer, you can avoid:
- Unwanted contact from insurance representatives
- Pressure from insurance companies to accept a settlement
- Attempts to twist your words and use them against you
- Any other attempts by insurance companies to breach your rights
Other attorneys may become involved in your case. They may represent insurance companies or defendants named in your lawsuit, but your lawyer will manage all interactions with them.
Your Lawyer Will Seek a Settlement
Car accident claims do not generally go to trial, as parties will settle out of court instead. Your lawyer will negotiate fiercely for the settlement that you are entitled to receive.
However, it takes two sides to settle. As hard as your lawyer fights, representatives for liable parties must agree to settlement terms. If no agreement occurs, even with the help of a mediator, then your case may proceed to trial.
How Much Will You Pay for a Lawyer After Your Car Accident?
Car accident victims generally agree to a contingency fee when they hire a lawyer. Plaintiffs do not pay this fee upfront. If their lawyer wins their case, then the law firm generally receives a portion of the settlement or judgment. The fee is contingent upon victory, though, so the client pays nothing at all unless the lawyer wins their case. That’s right: we don’t get paid unless you do.
To learn more about how to calculate pain and suffering damages, reach out now. Our teams of experts are ready to discuss your car accident claim and put you on the road to recovery.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.