What Is Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?

damaged front end of car from accident

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you could be owed compensation from the at-fault party. The types and amount of compensation will depend largely on the severity of your injuries and the impact they will have on your life moving forward.

One type of compensation that car accident victims could be eligible to claim is pain and suffering. In legal terms, pain is the physical or mental pain you’ve experienced. Suffering is the consequences of the physical and mental distress you’ve endured due to your injuries.

For example, a car accident may cause a herniated disc in your back. Due to the herniated disc, you may experience back discomfort, leg discomfort, and depression. The herniated disc might also impact your ability to enjoy life. You may now be unable to work, drive, sleep, participate in hobbies, interact with family, perform household chores, etc.

In this example, the back discomfort, leg discomfort, and depression are considered pain. The inability to participate in or enjoy the activities you did before the crash is considered suffering.

Everyone experiences pain and suffering differently. Some people experience pain and suffering immediately after a car accident. Others may not experience it until a few days or weeks after the accident.

Pain could start as minor discomfort that grows stronger over time. It is important to note that pain could also be mental. Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can all qualify as pain.

Suffering is unique as well. Suffering may not manifest itself at the same time as pain does. For example, you might realize that your neck was injured in the crash. However, you may not realize until you try to go to work, that the neck injury will prevent you from doing your job.

If you were hurt in a car accident, it is crucial to hire an experienced injury attorney to help you seek the fair compensation you need, especially when it comes to pain and suffering. It can be challenging to determine the impact that pain and suffering has had or will have on your life, so a knowledgeable attorney will be vital to your case.

If you were hurt in a car accident in Huntsville or elsewhere in Alabama, turn to the injury attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. for help. Our team will be ready to discuss the details of your injury free of charge and help you understand your legal options when you call to schedule your free consultation.

How Does the Insurance Company Evaluate Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are specific to the individual, the injuries, and the nature of the car accident. There is no medical test that can determine how much pain and suffering an accident victim has endured or will endure. In Alabama, juries are instructed there is no legal rule or yardstick that tells them how much to award for pain and suffering. It is left to the jury’s discretion.

Although there is no objective measure of a car accident victim’s pain and suffering, insurance companies have developed methods and factors to evaluate it. Insurance companies and juries look for indicators that include:

  • The type and severity of the injury
  • Medical treatment
  • Reasonable medical expenses
  • Your ability to work
  • Your ability to do the things you did before the injury
  • Reduction in the enjoyment of life

The most important factor that insurance companies consider is the medical treatment. Although it is a rough measure, the dollar amount of the medical bills can play an important role in calculating pain and suffering damages. However, significant pain and suffering can result from injuries that are inexpensive to treat. You need a lawyer who can present a fair assessment of the true extent of your pain and suffering, regardless of the size of the medical bills.

Next, the insurance company looks at how long you needed or will need medical treatment. Generally, longer medical treatment is an indicator of more pain and suffering.

After all factors are taken into consideration, there are several ways that the monetary value of pain and suffering may be calculated by insurance companies or a car accident lawyer.

Pain and suffering can be determined by using the “multiplier method.” Using the multiplier method, the medical bills and lost wages are added together. Then, the sum of the medical bills and lost wages are multiplied by a certain number. The number used to multiply the medical bills and lost wages depends on the type of injury, length of recovery, and whether there are any aggravating conditions.

The formula for the multiplier method looks like this: (medical bills + lost wages) x _________ = the value of pain and suffering.

The “per diem method” is another way to calculate the value of pain and suffering. The per diem method determines a daily value for each day that the car accident injury impacts your life. The daily rate for your pain and suffering is then multiplied by the length of injury.

For example, a daily rate of $300 multiplied by an injury that lasted 52 days would result in a pain and suffering value of $15,600. Car accident attorneys and insurance companies can also use a hybrid method where pain and suffering are calculated using both the multiplier method and the per diem method.

These two methods then provide a range of what the value of pain and suffering could be. Due to the subjective nature of pain and suffering, your actual losses may be quite different. You need an experienced lawyer who can make a solid case for maximum compensation for your specific losses.

Pain and Suffering Damages and Settlements After a Huntsville Car Accident

An experienced auto accident attorney knows how to prove your pain and suffering to an insurance company or a jury. They have negotiated with insurance companies many times before, and they know the appropriate multiplier number, per diem rate, or length of treatment for your injury and circumstances. Skilled trial attorneys also have crucial experience that helps them predict what a jury would award for pain and suffering.

If you haven’t hired an attorney to represent you after a crash in Huntsville, it is crucial that you do so right away to protect your rights and your injury claim.

How Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. Can Help

Morris, King & Hodge P.C. provides experienced and compassionate representation for people who’ve been injured in car accidents in Huntsville and the surrounding areas. We know that victims of car accidents are forced to deal with more than just temporary pain and property damage. Pain and suffering are very real and can be debilitating.

Let our team help you seek the compensation you’re owed. Call us, chat with us live, or fill out a contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation today.

Harvey B. Morris is a lifelong Alabamian who has been practicing law in Huntsville since getting his law degree and passing the state bar in 1966.