Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages
Someone else's actions resulted in a car accident that left you injured. Along with hospital bills and vehicle repair costs, you may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you've experienced as a result of the incident. However, the amount that can be recovered can vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction where your accident happened and the facts of the case. Read on to learn more about how car accident pain and suffering damages work.
Different Kinds of Damages
In many jurisdictions, the damages that arise from an injury suit are separated into two categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages are damages associated with specific economic harm, such as the loss of wages due to missed work, damage to your vehicle or other property, and medical expenses. General damages, on the other hand, cover "noneconomic damages" such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement or impairment
- Potentially shortened lifespan
- Mental anguish
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
Calculating Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages
Property damage or hospital bills are often easy to evaluate, and can typically be proven by showing a quote from an auto repair shop or the receipts for medical treatment. Car accident pain and suffering, by comparison, offers very little external evidence that can allow someone to assess how much pain and suffering the victim experienced or what amount of money would appropriately compensate the victim for their pain.
Pain and suffering can also be highly subjective. Two people may describe or experience virtually identical injuries very differently. This makes the establishment of standards or guidelines for car accident pain and suffering damages difficult or impossible to produce.
In practice, there are a number of factors courts consider in determining the amount of damages to be paid for pain and suffering, including:
- Severity of the injury
- Location and nature of any scarring or disfigurement
- Recovery time needed
- Potential for ongoing consequences
- Amount claimed in special damages
- Socio-economic or political factors
- Personality and charisma of the injured party
- Personality and charisma of the attorney
- State damages caps
The 'Multiplier' Method
Some attorneys use the "multiplier method" to calculate pain and suffering damages. This method involves the application of a multiplier to the total special damages. The theory behind this calculation is that injuries that result in more calculable damages, such as hospital bills, are typically more serious than those that result in fewer calculable damages. While that may be true in most car accident cases, there are two major criticisms of this method.
- Arbitrary multipliers - Different attorneys use different multipliers in using this method. One attorney may double the special damages, while another attorney may quadruple them. Neither answer is necessarily wrong, but the wide variation between these calculations can lead to inconsistent results.
- Potentially misleading results - A model who is disfigured in a car accident, for example, may have lower hospital bills than a computer engineer who broke bones. Their disfigurement, however, might cause more emotional and psychological distress, since models largely rely on their physical appearance to earn a living.
Although the multiplier method is imperfect, it does provide a starting point in determining the amount of car accident pain and suffering damages to claim.
Questions About Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages? Ask an Attorney
The lack of an objective standard for setting car accident pain and suffering damages means that qualified legal assistance can make a big difference in the amount of compensation you recover. If you were in a car accident, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer who will not only know the applicable laws but also have an insight into the attitudes of insurers and local juries, which will be invaluable information when making your claim.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.