While a financial settlement can pay the bills, how can a victim be compensated for suffering that may not be quantified by a medical bill? In legal terms, this type of compensation is known as damages for pain and suffering and, while you may be entitled to it, figuring out how much you should get is the tricky part.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
The term pain and suffering is intentionally vague and is meant to encompass a wide range of accident effects that may not be visible or easily demonstrated through MRIs or X-rays. To the victim, however, the suffering is very real and the effect it has on his or her life can be just as debilitating as a traumatic brain injury or broken pelvis. Some injuries that are considered under these damages include:
- Pain. Everyone experiences pain differently and quantifying an individual’s pain is difficult. However, for some people, the pain they experience after a car accident can be debilitating and difficult to treat.
- Fear. It is not uncommon for accident victims to experience the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) long after an accident. They may fear being in a car or near a road, which can greatly affect their quality of life.
- Grief. Even if there was no loss of life with the accident, a victim may grieve for the person she was before the accident or for the loss of a sense of safety and security caused by the crash.
- Worry. After experiencing the shock of a sudden car crash, a victim may be plagued by persistent worrying that it will happen again or that it will happen to a loved one.
- Insomnia. Symptoms such as pain, fear, and worry can lead to an inability to fall asleep. The effects of insomnia can make these other symptoms even worse.
- Inconvenience. While it may seem insignificant, a car accident victim is inconvenienced in many ways, including the need to go to doctor’s appointments, seek alternate transportation, testify against the at-fault party, and missing work. A pain and suffering award can make up for some of these inconveniences.
- Loss of enjoyment. Whether suffering from full-blown depression or simply being bogged down by all of the other symptoms, accident victims often report that they struggle to enjoy life like they did before the accident.
The best way to prove that you are suffering from these kinds of symptoms is to take them seriously yourself. Schedule doctors’ appointments as needed and follow the doctors’ orders. Keep a calendar of all appointments you attend related to the crash, track activities you are unable to participate in due to pain or depression, and chart your sleep patterns.
How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Calculated
Even if your emotional suffering is worse than any physical injury you sustained, you will have a harder time getting compensation for it than you would a broken bone. That’s because there is no easy way to put a price tag on these kinds of injuries. Many insurance companies now use a computer program to calculate pain and suffering damages that takes into account the type of physical injuries suffered as well as the type of treatment that was sought. Two other methods for calculating pain and suffering include:
- Use of a multiplier. With this method, the insurance adjuster takes the amount of the victim’s medical bills and lost wages and multiplies them by a number between one and five, depending on the severity of the injuries.
- Per diem. In a per diem settlement, a certain dollar amount is assigned for each day from the day of the accident until the day the victim reaches maximum recovery.
An experienced car accident attorney will be your best advocate in seeking a maximum pain and suffering settlement. Your attorney will help you document all forms of pain and suffering and will make sure you get the total amount to which you are entitled. Fill out the form on this page to connect to us today.