What is Pain and Suffering and How Do You Calculate It?
If you make a personal injury claim after a car accident, you will want to know how much your claim could be worth. Different auto insurance companies use different methods to determine the value of your personal injury claim. The claim generally includes payment for damages, such as your medical bills, lost income, and a certain level of compensation for your pain and suffering.
The term “pain and suffering” is commonly used when referencing car accidents that result in injuries. There are specific definitions for what constitutes pain and suffering. There are specific ways that insurance companies calculate that suffering for claims. In this article, we will look at the different kinds of pain and suffering and discuss how insurance companies make their calculations.
How much is your car accident injury claim worth?
Find out the maximum compensation you could receive.
- How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?
Physical Pain and Suffering
Physical pain and suffering relate to physical injuries sustained in a car crash. Broken bones, an injured spine, a concussion, etc., all count as physical pain and suffering injuries. Your physical pain and suffering began the day of the accident, continues to the present day, and will most likely go into the future. It all depends on how severe your injuries are and how long it takes you to recover. You should not stop counting the days until you are fully recovered from your injuries.
Mental Pain and Suffering
lack of pleasure in life
Loss of Property
Irreplaceable photographs became lost or damaged
Medical professionals had to cut your wedding ring off your finger
A necklace with sentimental value broke due to the collision
Loss of Consortium
How Much Compensation Can You Expect?
As the title implies, the multiplier works by using multiplication to assess how much money you should expect for your pain and suffering. When using the multiplier, you’ll take your damages and multiply them by a specific number. Two examples of these damages are medical expenses and lost wages. Your medical expenses should cover everything: copays for doctor visits, x-rays, MRIs, EKGs, CAT scans, blood draws/labs, surgery, and any other costs. Lost earnings should include the amount of money you’ve lost from not being able to work. Also include the amount of money you anticipate losing in the future as you recover.
Let’s look at an example of how the multiplier method works. If your medical bills cost $8,000 and you lost $2,000 from not being able to work, you might multiply $10,000 by 3, which equals $30,000. If your medical bills and lost wages were higher than that, you’d probably want to multiply by a higher number. A higher number will better reflect a value equivalent to your pain and suffering.
Determining the Multiplier
So, how much should you multiply all your losses by? That’s a great question, though the answer varies case by case. The multiplier will be a number between 1 and 5. Picking the number may seem a bit arbitrary but it is mostly based on the severity of your case. Many attorneys multiply by 3 for their clients because they’re usually able to settle at that rate. At the end of the day, it’s all about settling. However, if you’re paralyzed from your accident, no attorney would go with a number as low as 3 to try to compensate for all your car accident pain and suffering. That would be unrealistic if your quality of daily life decreased and the difficulty of accomplishing daily tasks dramatically increased. That is why you’ll want to counsel with your attorney. He or she will have an idea of a reasonable settlement for your pain and suffering.
However, you might not need to choose a number to multiply by in the first place. Some insurance companies use software that determines the multiplier for you. And while this might seem like a hassle-free way to handle it, these software usually undervalue your pain and suffering compensation. The computer system will take into account factors like who caused the accident or if someone was under the influence of alcohol. If it’s determined that you caused the accident, the multiplier will be a lower number. But if a drunk driver struck your vehicle, the multiplier would be higher.
The Daily Rate
Calculating Your Daily Rate
How to Prove Your Pain and Suffering
You’ll want to have plenty of documentation to prove how much you’ve suffered. This backs up your claim and the amount that you are requesting. Here is a list of all the types of evidence that will help you prove how much your pain and suffering is worth.
- Document all doctors appointments and keep all notes on hand. Pay specific attention to how your injury is currently impacting your life. Have your doctor explain in writing how much it will impact your life in the future.
- Ask for letters from your specialist(s), psychologist, and/or psychiatrist. Have them write about how the car accident caused or aggravated what you are dealing with now.
- Keep a list of all medications you have to take that due to the accident. Needing to take Xanax for panic attacks, antidepressants for anxiety, or codeine or a stronger pain reliever for a physical injury should all be on your list.
- If you develop a permanent condition that is life-threatening or you become disabled, document this.
- Keep a journal that you write in every day to document your symptoms. Include details about how you feel, like how many pain pills you’ve needed to take or how intense your depression has been.
- Ask friends and family to be witnesses to your pain and suffering. Ask for details regarding how you are living daily life and how your life has changed after car accident.
While this could quickly become a chore, documenting all of this will prove your credibility. It will show that what you are experiencing is directly related to the car accident.
Need to Speak to an Attorney?
Arriving at a Fair Value
It is not wise to base your claim and expected compensation solely on the result of other cases. Your case is unique to you and your circumstances influence the outcome. You can use the knowledge you have regarding pain and suffering to determine a multiplier or daily rate for yourself. From that point, you could need to adjust the expectations you have based upon several case factors, such as how severe the injuries were, whether other people were injured, whether you were out of work for a long time, and whether you seem to be a strong witness for your behalf.
Putting these factors together will help you to make a good and reasonable value for your personal injury claim. For example, if the multiplier provides a value of $18,000 and the per diem provides a value of $30,000, you could choose a rough pain and suffering amount of $24,000.
Once you and your attorney devise a number that you think works for you, then you can write a demand letter to the insurance company.