How to Determine Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Case

How to Determine Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Case

Written by Dennis Grossman

Attorney Dennis Grossman has managed thousands of cases, obtaining millions of dollars in settlements and jury awards for his clients.

When you’ve been injured in a car accident, your compensable losses often include the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. A key concern many individuals are forced to confront after a car accident, aside from injury recovery and restoring their damaged property, is how to get compensation for all the harm they’ve endured. 

If you were involved in a serious accident, you’re most likely dealing with a substantial amount of pain and suffering.  “Pain and suffering” is a category of recoverable damages in tort law claims. If you’re interested in recovering compensation for all that you’ve endured, consider beginning your pain and suffering claims with the Grossman Law Offices

Read on for more information about exactly what “pain and suffering” actually is, how to calculate the related damages, and how you can recover pain and suffering damages from the at-fault driver and their insurer. 

What Is Considered Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?

Pain and suffering are unique to every individual. That’s why we encourage our clients to seek medical treatment before pursuing a pain and suffering settlement. Since it doesn’t have a universal definition within the context of personal injury law, it can be hard to prove. However, doing so is necessary for recovering your damages in personal injury cases. 

Pain and suffering generally refer to the physical or mental pain someone endures because of someone else’s careless or wrongful act. Our clients have recovered financial compensation in their personal injury lawsuit for the following:

  • The physical pain associated with their physical injuries
  • Emotional pain relating to stress, anxiety, mental anguish, or other psychological effects 
  • Physical discomfort that comes from necessary medical care to treat their injuries

Sometimes the pain is not evident after your accident. Consider soft tissue injuries and emotional trauma, for example. Since pain is so innately subjective, the pain that might send someone to the doctor could be a simple annoyance for others. Hence, there’s no simple way to identify and calculate pain and suffering damages.

How are Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Calculating pain and suffering in an injury claim can be quite a task. Generally, your insurer and legal defense will use the following methods when determining the amount of non-economic damages you’re entitled to for the emotional distress in the aftermath of your serious injuries.  

The “Multiplier” Method

The multiplier method takes your total accident-related medical bills and multiplies them by a multiplier of two or three. In recent years, insurers have been shying away from automatically using a standard multiplier and have opted for their own special multiplier formula. 

This formula factors in the following injury-related variables from a car accident:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Medical treatment necessary to treat your injuries
  • Long-term or permanent effects of your car accident injuries
  • If your injuries limit your ability to perform daily activities and pursue your normal interests
  • Gross negligence

The Per Diem Method

Another method for calculating pain and suffering damages is the daily rate method. This method counts the number of days an individual suffers from the effects of a car accident and multiplies the total number of days by a given monetary value. This daily monetary value isn’t set but used as a starting point for determining someone’s average daily wage.

The factors used to determine someone’s average daily wage will vary based on the factors of their life, including their wage, whether they have children, and their other financial responsibilities. Essentially, the more medical treatment or time necessary for a complete recovery from a car accident injury, the more money you’re entitled to for pain and suffering. 

How Do I Prove My Pain and Suffering After A Car Accident?

In determining the value of your pain and suffering when you seek compensation for car accidents, the insurer will review the following documentation:

  • Medical records of your bodily injury, broken bones, and more
  • Medical bills
  • Bills documenting your visits to a mental health professional for mental suffering, mental injuries, psychological trauma, and more
  • Medical prescription records 
  • Photographs of your injuries
  • Receipts for over-the-counter medications
  • Documentation from your employer of any lost time from work and lost income
  • Journal entries or notes documenting your car accident, injuries, your choice to seek medical attention, and your recovery
  • Written statements from family members or close friends who have witnessed the impact that your car accident and your injuries have had on you

Pain and Suffering Liability

Determining liability for your car accident, medical bills, physical pain, and more is one of the most important elements of your personal injury claim.  A personal injury lawyer from the Grossman Law Offices can help to:

  • Review police reports
  • Investigate the details of your accident
  • Speak with witnesses
  • Examine photographs of the accident scene
  • Gather medical records
  • Advocate with others about the effects of your physical pain and trauma

After an injury accident, the two primary avenues available to receive compensation are filing an insurance claim and initiating a lawsuit. 

Auto Accident Insurance Claims

Filing an insurance claim is the most common way to obtain compensation for your losses after an accident. Since California is a no-fault state, you can usually only recover pain and suffering damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company when your injuries reach a certain threshold.

First, you’ll submit a demand letter. This letter requires you to tell the insurance company what you’re asking for and provide information to support your request. You’ll need to provide evidence that supports your demands. 

After submitting your demand letter, it’s time to start negotiating a settlement with the car insurance company. If it appears as though the insurer isn’t going to budge during negotiations, consider hiring an auto accident law attorney. Experienced legal professionals know how to negotiate with insurers. They also have experience protecting those in need. 

Filing an Injury Accident Lawsuit

Filing a tort lawsuit is the second approach to recovering compensation for pain and suffering. If you decide to sue, you’ll normally sue the driver responsible for your injuries.

Since there is a lot of time and money required to go to court, we recommend only electing to file a suit when there’s a significant amount of money at stake. If you’re in need of an experienced law attorney in California, contact the Grossman Law Offices right away. 

Pain and Suffering Settlements

Every individual involved in a personal injury case, won’t end up in trial. In fact, most people involved in a personal injury lawsuit negotiate a settlement before they ever end up in court. Since neither side wants to spend the extra time and money litigating, many insurance claims settle as a part of the claims process.

How long your case takes to settle depends on the reasons for the disagreement and how open each side is to compromise. Many insurance claims settle anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. Contact us to learn more about how long it might take to settle your personal injury claim.

Insurers and adjusters that don’t operate in good faith can be penalized as well.  State laws and regulations require insurance companies to handle claims a certain way and within a certain amount of time. If they don’t, they can face legal trouble by being sued for operating in “bad faith.” 

This is another reason why securing an attorney during a contested insurance claim is a good idea. Your lawyer can help hold your insurance company responsible when they’re trying to avoid the settlement payment for your pain and suffering claim. 

If your insurance claim ends up in a car accident lawsuit, settlement can occur at any time, even on the day of trial. If the case settles, your eligibility for pain and suffering compensation will depend on:

  • The strength of either side’s legal case
  • How far apart negotiations are
  • Litigation costs
  • How sympathetic the judge or jury is to you
  • Major developments in your claim

Your access to economic damages isn’t guaranteed. Recovering non-economic damages can be even more difficult. That’s why our lawyers are standing by to help you recover all of the pain and suffering damages calculated in your claim. 

Legal Help After A Pain and Suffering Claim

If you believe you have a claim for pain and suffering following a car accident, it’s a good idea to at least talk to a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury law specialists are experienced in getting the best result from the insurer, presenting a strong case in court, and acting on your behalf. 

Keep in mind that a legal professional has the necessary experience to present your most compelling narrative to the insurance company, and can convince the insurance company, the opposing attorney, or even a jury exactly how your car accident injuries have negatively impacted you.

If your car accident case injuries are serious, handling the car accident claim on your own could be detrimental to the outcome of your claim. An experienced attorney from the Grossman Law Offices can spearhead your claim, and help you to recover the pain and suffering compensation you deserve.

If you’re ready to discuss your legal options after a car accident, feel free to speak with us about your car accident case. We can use all of the legal tools at our disposal to prove pain and suffering in your claim.