What You Need to Know About How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Calculated
If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you could suffer serious injuries like back injuries, traumatic brain injury, hip fractures, or internal organ damage that could require you to be off work for months or longer. Fortunately, you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent motorist. While you may understand the award amount for your lost wages and medical expenses, understanding what you are entitled to for your pain and suffering may be more challenging.
Factors Used in Determining Your Emotional Trauma Damages
Pain and suffering damages include compensation for your physical pain and suffering and the mental anguish—like depression, insomnia, anxiety, and memory loss—that you have experienced. If you have a long-term or permanent injury, you are entitled to compensation for your future pain and suffering too. While there is no set formula for calculating these damages, a number of factors will influence the amount of your settlement. These include the following:
- How soon after your accident you obtained medical treatment
- How serious your injuries are and the length of time it will take you to recover
- How severe the level of pain is
- How old you are
- How credible you will be as a witness
- Whether you are engaging in activities that are consistent with the level of pain you are experiencing
- Whether there was a pre-existing injury
- How your injuries have affected your day-to-day activities
- How your injuries have limited your ability to work
- Whether your injuries have changed your relationships with family members or friends
Four Ways to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
Car accident attorneys and insurance companies use a variety of techniques to estimate a person’s pain and suffering award. Some of these include the following:
- Multiplier method. With this method, a person’s lost wages and medical bills—also known as special damages—are added up and then multiplied by a certain number—usually between 1 ½ and 5—depending on the facts of the case. The severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the accident, such as if the driver was intoxicated, will determine how large the multiplier is.
- Per diem method. Some attorneys and insurance adjusters use a daily rate to value the person’s pain and suffering and multiply this figure by the number of days the person suffered with the injury. The per diem rate should not be arbitrary. One way to determine it is to use the daily amount of earnings the accident victim would have earned as the daily rate.
- Computer programs. Many large insurance companies rely on computer programs such as Colossus that take into account factors such as the type of injury, how long the person was hospitalized, and the type and length of treatment to determine the amount of pain and suffering damages.
- Experience. An experienced car accident attorney will have a good understanding of how much the pain and suffering portion of your claim would be worth based on other similar cases he has handled or can research settlements and jury awards before deciding on a specific figure.
Documents That Can Help Prove Your Pain and Suffering Damages
You will want to document your pain and suffering damages as much as possible. You may need to provide the insurance adjuster with this information to obtain a favorable award. Documents you should save include:
- Medical bills and records
- Prescription records
- Over-the-counter pain, sleeping aid, and other medication receipts
- Photographs of your injuries
- Documentation from your employer of the time you missed work due to your injuries
- Diary that includes how your injuries limited your activities and a record of your personal sleep history since the accident
Were you or a family member injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver? Our experienced car accident attorneys would be happy to discuss your pain and suffering damages and the other compensation you could be entitled to. Start an online chat or call us at 888-795-6261 to schedule a free consultation.