Pain and Suffering Explained
If you are thinking of filing a car accident claim, you might have heard the term “pain and suffering.” While it may seem pretty self explanatory, it actually covers a wide range of physical pain and mental anguish. Car accident injuries can be minor or severe, depending on the circumstances of the accident. In a rear-end collision, many victims suffer from whiplash, a type of neck injury that happens when the neck moves back and forth in a forceful manner. Many injuries may result in long-term pain and a diminished quality of life.
Frequently, car accident victims who come to us are unaware that pain and suffering is something they can be compensated for after a personal injury accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you recover pain and suffering from the negligent driver who caused you harm.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is defined as the physical and severe mental pain as the result of an injury caused by the negligence of another person or party. It falls under non-economic damages in a personal injury case, which are considered intangible losses with no specific dollar amount. They are different from economic damages, which are quantifiable monetary losses such as medical bills, lost income, and property damage.
There are two types of pain and suffering:
Physical Pain and Suffering
Pain after a car accident is common. If you have suffered an injury like a broken leg, you are likely to experience a throbbing or constant physical pain for weeks or even months. Some injuries may also lead to chronic pain, which is pain lasting for over three months. Some examples of physical pain and suffering are:
- Neck and back pain
- Nerve pain
- Burn injuries
- Broken bones
- Dislocated joints
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Mental Pain and Suffering
While physical injuries like broken bones are easy to prove, emotional distress can be much more difficult to show. A serious car accident may result in mental anguish and emotional pain for the victim, which can manifest as:
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Mood swings
- Diminished quality of life
In a California car accident, there is no cap on the amount you can recover for non-economic damages. However, if you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, you will not be able to claim pain and suffering. Medical malpractice claims cap non-economic damages to $250,000.
How to Calculate Pain And Suffering Damages
In California, there are two ways to calculate pain and suffering damages: the per diem method and the multiplier method.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method uses a number between 1.5 and 5 to multiply the plaintiff’s economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. The number is chosen based on the severity and duration of the plaintiff’s injury, with 5 representing the most severe injuries. For example, if the plaintiff’s economic damages are $50,000 and their multiplier is 3, their pain and suffering damages would be $150,000. This method is also referred to as the pain and suffering calculator.
The Per Diem Method
This method assigns a daily rate to the plaintiff’s pain and suffering and multiplies it by the number of days the plaintiff suffered. For example, if the plaintiff’s daily rate is $200 and they suffered for 100 days, their pain and suffering damages would be $20,000. The daily rate can be based on various factors, such as the plaintiff’s income, medical expenses, or jury instructions.
Keep in mind the insurance company will have their own method to calculate economic and non-economic damages. This is why it’s important to have a lawyer who can advocate for you and submit a claim that reflects the full extent of your losses.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering
When proving pain and suffering, you must be able to show how your injuries have negatively impacted your life. Since pain and suffering is not always physical, it can be harder to prove. A skilled lawyer with experience settling complex car accident claims will know how to prove this type of non-economic damage. Some of the evidence an attorney might bring to negotiations includes:
- Medical records
- X-ray, MRI or CT scans
- Witness statements
- Photos and videos of the accident and injuries
- Written account of the accident
- Time missed from work
- Testimony from doctors, therapists, and mental health professionals
The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be. If your case goes to trial, you will need to show how the injury has affected your life.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Costa Mesa
If you have physical pain and emotional trauma from a car accident in Costa Mesa, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your injuries in a personal injury claim. While filing an insurance claim is possible to do on your own, you have a much higher chance of winning with legal representation. Additionally, an experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure you receive the highest pain and suffering compensation.
Mesa Accident Lawyers is a top Orange County personal injury law firm with a winning record of success. Call our car accident lawyer to schedule a FREE consultation at (949) 329-2689 or by filling out a quick contact form.