An average of 160,000 Louisiana car accidents are reported every year. Even if the drivers and passengers involved in these accidents are lucky enough to avoid common car accident injuries, they’re still shaken up. They may be anxious to drive on the same road or to get into a car at all. They may deal with mental health issues like depression, flashbacks to the accident, nightmares, and insomnia, just to name a few.
Does this sound like you?
For now, you might be focused on paying your bills and putting the accident behind you. Maybe there’s a little voice in your head telling you to “get over it.” But the truth is you should never try to bury your feelings.
You know you have a right to file a claim against the at-fault driver and obtain compensation for your medical bills, auto repair bills, and lost income—but what about the emotional distress you felt during and after the crash?
In any personal injury case, the law considers a victim’s mental distress and suffering as well as their financial losses. This means you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.
Below, we’ll let you know how to define, calculate, and prove pain and suffering after a car accident.
Legal help is available now. To tell us your story and receive a free case evaluation ASAP, call 800-898-4877 or visit our contact page.
Table of Contents
First things first: what is pain and suffering in a car accident?
In a car accident claim, your losses are called “damages.” There are different categories of damages included in your claim. You can add up all of your damages to predict how much to expect from a car accident settlement.
Economic damages refer to monetary losses from the accident, such as the cost of fixing your car or getting an x-ray. By filing a claim, you can get reimbursed for these expenses. (Economic damages are also called monetary damages, special damages, or pecuniary damages.)
Non-economic damages, sometimes known as non-pecuniary damages or general damages, refer to more abstract concepts such as the mental distress and physical pain you are experiencing as a result of the auto accident and the injuries you sustained therein. These issues are commonly called “pain and suffering.”
The following are some examples of pain and suffering:
- Emotional distress
- Stress and anxiety
- PTSD symptoms (nightmares, flashbacks, etc.)
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical aches and pains
- Disability, scarring, and disfigurement
As you can see, pain and suffering is difficult to define. Everyone will have a different response to an accident, but no one reaction is any more or less valid than another. The average settlement for car accident back and neck injury will be more than the average settlement for a non-injury accident, but both people may be experiencing anxiety. That’s why it’s especially difficult to settle a pain and suffering claim without a lawyer.
Unlike economic damages, pain and suffering cannot be clearly represented by a dollar amount. Instead, when it comes to calculating pain and suffering, insurance adjusters consider questions like these:
- How much will the victim’s daily life be changed?
- Were they hospitalized?
- Is their mobility limited?
- Are they permanently disabled or disfigured?
- Will the injury impact their responsibilities at home or at work?
- Does the victim have trouble sleeping or participating in hobbies they used to enjoy?
All this and more plays a part in how to calculate pain and suffering from a car accident.
So now you know you may be entitled to compensation, but how is pain and suffering compensation calculated? Let’s take a look.
Have you been in a Louisiana car accident? Once the haze of shock clears, dozens of questions swirl around in your mind: “How much compensation should I ask for? How much should I settle for pain and suffering? How can I prove my pain and suffering?”
Economic damages—like a totaled car or an expensive surgery—are easy to prove. You just need to obtain a copy of the bill, receipt, or invoice, and the numbers are right there in black and white. Figuring out how to calculate damages for pain and suffering is a bit more complicated. There are different approaches to a personal injury value calculator.
Some states limit the amount of compensation a victim can receive. However, there are no payout caps on personal injury claims involving automobiles in Louisiana.
How do insurance companies calculate pain and suffering? Different insurance companies have different protocols and standards for determining the value of pain and suffering. Often, they’ll consider the following factors:
- The victim’s age and lifestyle
- How the accident happened
- The strength of the evidence
- The type of injury and the severity of the injury
- How long it took to recover
To be more specific, there are three common methods for calculating pain and suffering in a car accident insurance claim:
The multiplier method adds up all of your monetary losses from the accident then multiplies that total by a certain rate. Generally, this rate is between 1 and 5.
Thanks to these multipliers, examples of pain and suffering settlements can vary widely. The more severe your injuries are and the longer it takes you to recover, the higher the multiplier number will be. (If the car accident left you with a lifelong disability, it is likely the multiplier will be 5.)
After multiplication, the new number represents the pain and suffering portion of your settlement.
For example, if you’ve suffered $35,000 in economic damages and we use a multiplier of 2, you could be entitled to $70,000 for your pain and suffering.
$35,000 x 2 = $70,000
Daily Rate Method
To use the daily rate method, also known as the “per diem” method, you and your lawyer must first determine your daily cost of living or your daily earnings. Once this amount has been determined, the value is multiplied by the number of days your life has been affected by the accident.
Here’s an example: You were hurt in a car accident. You made $15 an hour at your full-time job (40 hours a week.) That means you used to earn $120 per day. If it takes 90 days to settle your claim and complete all of your physical therapy, you could get $10,800 for your pain and suffering.
$120 x 90 = $10,800
Here in Louisiana, the daily rate method is the most popular way to calculate pain and suffering. Some judges may choose to calculate pain and suffering by months instead of days.
Note: Your daily rate may decrease as more and more time goes by. This is why it’s important to take action and begin your claim ASAP!
The jurisprudential method is all about comparison. When using the jurisprudential method, a lawyer, judge, and/or jury looks for precedents, or similar cases that happened in the past. These previous cases are then used as a foundation for your current accident case value.
For example, imagine someone was in a car accident in Louisiana in 2017 and their injuries were quite similar to yours. If that victim filed a claim and received $60,000 in pain and suffering damages, your lawyer would argue you also deserve $60,000 in pain and suffering damages, plus inflation.
A Louisiana car accident lawyer can help you determine which method will be applied to your case. With the guidance of a lawyer, you could secure an exponentially higher settlement amount than you would without one!
Now that you know how to calculate pain and suffering, you may be wondering how to prove pain and suffering.
We know liability can be determined via a thorough investigation into how your car accident happened, but what about how to determine pain and suffering?
Only you know much emotional turmoil you’re coping with.
Unfortunately, the insurance company tries to minimize, invalidate, and dismiss your feelings every step of the way. Don’t stand for it!
Evidence of Pain and Suffering
How can you prove pain and suffering damages? Remember: everything needs to be supported by evidence. A lawyer can help you keep track of it all, collect important evidence, and present persuasive proof, including:
- photos of the accident
- photos of your injuries, bruises, and scars
- medical records, x-rays, and bills
- notes or testimonies from doctors
- witness testimony from family and friends
- police report and/or 911 audio from the accident
Additionally, testimony from the plaintiff (that’s you!) can also be valuable. It can be helpful to keep a journal of how you are feeling. Track your pain levels and note how the accident has changed your daily life.
Watch Your Words
After a car accident, your doctors and physical therapists will ask you about your pain levels at every follow-up visit. Your car accident lawyer may also be able to connect you with mental health professionals for short-term therapy sessions.
Be honest with all of them. Base your answers off of your usual level of activity. For example, if you’ve been resting on the couch for days, your pain levels may be low, but you should consider how you will feel when you have to return to work or resume your usual active routine.
Here’s one more tip on how to maximize pain and suffering damages:
Never give a recorded statement to the insurance company, and never go without a lawyer.
After an accident, insurance adjusters will call you and try to pressure you into giving a recorded statement. They will attempt to twist your words and use them against you in order to reduce your settlement amount. If they ask, “how are you?” and you offhandedly reply “fine, thanks,” they may try to argue that you don’t deserve any compensation for pain and suffering… because you’re “fine,” right!?
Don’t let this happen to you. You are under no legal obligation to provide a recorded statement about your car accident or your injuries. Let an experienced Louisiana car accident lawyer handle all communications and negotiations for you while you focus on healing.
The following damages are included in a typical car accident insurance settlement:
- pain and suffering
- medical bills
- ongoing medical treatments or physical therapy
- cost to repair or replace any damaged property
- lost wages and lost earning capacity
From drivers to trucking companies to property owners, there are a lot of potential entities at fault for your car accident.
Generally, however, it is the insurance company who will be paying you.
If you need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and your damages exceed the limit of their car insurance policy, you would then go after their assets, like their savings or properties.
Approximately one hundred fatal car accidents happen in Louisiana every year.
What happens to the families they leave behind?
We believe human life is priceless, but we also believe a wrongful death claim can help alleviate some of the financial burdens survivors may encounter.
The following relatives can file a wrongful death claim in Louisiana:
- the deceased’s spouse and children
- if there are no surviving spouses or children, the deceased’s parents may file
- if there are no surviving parents, the deceased’s siblings may file
- if there are no surviving siblings, the deceased’s grandparents may file
This order applies to relatives whether they are related by legal adoption or by blood. Auto accident pain and suffering settlement amounts for cases like these can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Can Passengers Collect Pain and Suffering Damages?
Yes, passengers are also eligible for pain and suffering damages after a car accident. Our Louisiana personal injury lawyers secure major car accident injury settlement amounts for drivers and passengers every day. Let our next victory be yours!
How Long Do I Have to File for Pain and Suffering?
Generally, you will need to complete all recommended medical treatments before you can settle your claim. This is because you and your lawyer won’t know the full impact the accident has had on your body, your mind, and your daily life until you get a professional opinion from a doctor or therapist.
However, a time limit called “the statute of limitations” applies to all personal injury cases.
The LA statute of limitations for car accidents is one year from the date of the wreck.
For best results, reach out now and let a Louisiana car accident lawyer get started on building your case.
How Much Does A Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay them nothing up front. They only get paid after they help you win your case and settle your claim. Even then, you won’t pay out of pocket. Instead, your lawyer will deduct a portion of your settlement before you receive your disbursement check.
Speak to A Louisiana Personal Injury Lawyer Now
So what is a fair settlement for pain and suffering? Only you and your lawyer will know the answer. Pain and suffering settlement amounts can help victims rebuild their lives after accidents. While there’s no guarantee when it comes to auto accident settlement amounts, pain, suffering, and other emotional anguish should always be taken into consideration. Your distress is valid, and you deserve to be compensated for the pain a careless driver has caused you. With the information above, you can take a shot at pain and suffering claims calculation.
To find out more about how to claim pain and suffering from an auto accident, team up with an attorney who knows how to fight for you.
When insurance companies only want to take advantage of you in your most vulnerable state, a skilled negotiator can make all the difference. In many cases, the final offer is more than double what the first offer was!
We won’t give up, and neither should you.
If you need more help, we’re here for you. Get a free consultation by calling 800-898-4877. We are available 24/7, and our client-first approach guarantees you will be treated with the patience, respect, and compassion you deserve.
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Hit & Run Guide | New Orleans Car Accident Lawyers
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.