There is no specific value for how much pain and suffering is worth in a car accident. Every case is different. What you might be entitled to depends on several factors such as:
- Your injuries
- Your medical bills
- Lost wages
- The method insurers use to calculate pain and suffering
- The strength of the case that your lawyer presents
- Whether or not your lawyer can prove that the liable party is responsible for your pain and suffering—along with the other expenses that result from the accident
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain and mental distress a victim endures after suffering an injury. For instance, you feel actual pain from a broken leg caused by a car accident. Along with that pain comes distress over having limited mobility that prevents you from carrying out your daily tasks, such as driving your kids to school or going to work.
Insurance claim settlements for car accident cases include compensation for pain and suffering, also called “non-economic” or “general” damages. Estimating non-economic damages can get complicated because you cannot provide a dollar amount for pain or provide a written receipt for suffering as you can for repairing your car or paying your medical bills.
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Proving Liability in a Car Accident Case
A personal injury lawyer will first set out to prove that the defendant is liable for your injuries, pain, and suffering. They will do this through a four-step process, which is:
- Establishing that the liable party owed you a duty of care
Florida Statutes § 316.192 mandates that every motorist act in a way that ensures other motorists and pedestrians are not put at an unreasonable risk of danger. Any “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” is considered reckless driving and is punishable by law.
2. Proving that the liable party breached their duty of care to you
If a witness states that the liable party was engaging in any number of dangerous behaviors—speeding, tailgating, being on the phone, changing lanes without signaling, etc.—then they likely breached their duty of care to you, especially if they caused the accident.
3. Proving causation
Once we show that the defendant behaved in a way that put you and other motorists at undue risk, we can illustrate that the behavior increased the likelihood of the accident that ultimately occurred. We may do this by collecting evidence from:
- Your loved ones
- Your doctor
- Video footage
- The police officer who responded to the accident
- Other relevant experts
4.Calculating the losses caused by the resulting accident
To collect damages, you must not only show that the liable party caused your injuries, but also the injuries have caused you significant physical, emotional, and financial distress.
We can estimate your total expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any other losses to present a strong case that you are owed recoverable losses at the liable party’s expense.
Damages You May Be Entitled to Recover
Each car accident case is different, but commonly recoverable losses in these cases include:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation and therapy bills
- Any past, present, and future lost wages stemming from your injuries
- Diminished earning capacity or disability due to your injuries
- The cost of property damage
These types of damages all fall under the umbrella of economic damages. Not only is it important to recover such damages so you can afford medical care and other necessities, but they are also instrumental in determining the value of non-economic damages like pain and suffering. This is discussed in greater detail below.
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How Much Is My Pain and Suffering Worth?
While you may pursue compensation for pain and suffering, there is no set method all insurers use. Some insurers use a software system called Colossus to calculate pain and suffering and other factors in bodily injury claims.
Other insurers calculate pain and suffering using the following methods:
- Multiplier method
- Per diem method
To determine the value of your pain and suffering using the multiplier method, an insurer will add up all your economic damages and multiply the sum by a number between 1.5 and five. Five is for catastrophic injuries, while 1.5 is for more minor injuries that do not require extensive medical care.
For example, if you broke your leg and needed to take a week off from work, the insurer might assign you a 1.5. If your economic damages totaled $7,000, you would receive $10,500 in pain and suffering damages.
If you suffered a traumatic brain injury that will require round-the-clock care for the rest of your life, and you had to quit your job and stop engaging in your hobbies, the insurer might assign you a five. If your economic damages totaled $750,000, you would receive $3,750,000 in pain and suffering damages.
“Per Diem” Method
The “per diem” method calculates your pain and suffering using a daily or “per diem” rate. The insurer determines what you make in a day and multiplies that by how many days you suffered from accident-related pain.
For example, if you make $50,000 a year (roughly $200 a day, if you assume there are 250 working days in a year) and you suffer for two weeks, the insurer would award you $2,800 in pain and suffering.
If you required surgery and were in pain for six months (and you make $50,000 a year), you would recover $36,000 in pain and suffering damages.
What Will Insurers Consider When They Calculate a Value for My Pain and Suffering?
For the most part, insurance companies look at several factors when deciding the value of pain and suffering.
Insurance companies do not treat all injuries the same: the more severe the injury, the higher the payout. For instance, an accident victim with a severe brain injury may have a higher settlement than an individual who suffered a spinal cord injury like whiplash.
Physical injuries you can seek reimbursement for include but are not limited to:
- Fractured (broken) bones
- Cuts, scrapes, and abrasions
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Strained or sprained muscles
- Nerve damage
- Herniated discs
- Bothersome scar tissue
- Organ damage
- The total or partial loss of a sense, such as sight or hearing
Other, less tangible forms of non-economic damages include:
- Mental illness, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- A diminishment or destruction of your relationship with your spouse or another relative
- Intellectual disabilities, including a lost ability to concentrate or remember things
Each of these injuries is not just compensable in its own right: It also causes pain and suffering for which you can seek damages.
Your Medical Bills
Typically, more severe injuries require more treatment, which leads to more medical bills and pain and suffering. Compensable medical bills could include any or all of the following categories:
- Ambulance or airlifts
- Diagnostic tests, such as x-rays or blood tests
- Physical therapy
- Psychiatric or psychological treatment
- Assistive devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair
- Home nursing
- Certain travel expenses
Losing income also factors into calculating pain and suffering. This includes income you could not earn when:
- You stayed home to let your injury heal
- You worked part-time or light duty to accommodate your injury
- You were fired from or had to quit your job because your injury made it impossible to fulfill your duties
- You had to retire early
- You had to find a new job that pays less than your previous one
- You paid for vocational rehabilitation training to prepare yourself for a new career that could accommodate your injury
When we meet with you for your free consultation, we can discuss every factor insurers consider when putting a value on pain and suffering. We can also estimate future suffering or losses to make sure that, when you settle or receive a jury award, it is for a truly just amount.
Pursuing Non-Economic Damages Under Florida’s No-Fault System
Florida is a “no-fault” state, which means when an accident occurs, drivers file a claim with their own insurance companies to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.
The no-fault system does not prevent injured individuals from recovering damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience from the driver who caused the accident. However, car accident victims must meet a threshold requirement to get compensation for pain and suffering. Florida Statutes § 627.737(2) requires individuals to establish at least one of the following:
- “Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function”
- “Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement”
- “Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement”
In some cases, injured individuals, including motorcyclists, do not have to pass this threshold to recover damages for pain and suffering (Scherzer v. Beron, 455 So.2d 441, Fla. 5th DCA 1984).
If you were injured in an accident and want to pursue pain and suffering damages, Florida places the burden on you to prove your injuries. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you gather proof to substantiate your pain and suffering claim.
Pain and Suffering in Wrongful Death Cases
If someone passes away before they get a chance to sue for pain and suffering and other damages, their surviving relatives can seek that compensation on their behalf. If the deceased had time to settle a lawsuit for pain and suffering damages prior to their death, their survivors are no longer eligible for such damages.
However, even if the deceased recovered pain and suffering damages, their survivors may still be able to recover other types of damages, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Estate settlement and other end-of-life expenses
- Loss of financial support (if you depended on the deceased’s income to pay the bills)
- Loss of society or companionship
- Grief and bereavement
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, we are truly sorry for your loss. We would be honored to help you figure out if you can sue for pain and suffering or any other type of damage. The money you get from such a settlement could support you as you try to figure out where to go from here.
We Can Help You Recover Compensation for Pain and Suffering
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, choosing an aggressive law firm that fights for its clients may help. You should not be handling any legal work if you are injured; you should only be focused on your recovery. We can handle everything for you. To help you recover the compensation you deserve for pain and suffering, we can:
- Gather evidence, including pictures and videos of your injuries as well as medical records and bills
- Interview any witnesses to the accident and secure their testimony for trial and settlement negotiations
- Speak with your medical caregivers to document the extent of your injuries and how they interfere with your ability to work and earn an income
- File your claim and/or lawsuit on your behalf
- Negotiate with the insurance company to get the settlement you are entitled to
- Take your case to court if the insurance adjuster refuses to pay you what you deserve
- Make in-court appearances for you
- Ensure that your rights are protected throughout the entirety of the legal process
We want to tirelessly advocate for you until we achieve the financial award you need to help you move forward more comfortably after your accident. We offer responsive legal care and will answer all your questions.
We also operate on contingency, meaning we do not accept any upfront or out-of-pocket payments. We get paid when you do; our fees come out of the settlement or court award we obtain on your behalf.
What Else a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
To make sure your experience with the legal process is as smooth and stress-free as possible, a car accident lawyer serving Orlando, FL can:
- Give you their phone number so that you always have access to them when you need it
- Update you regularly so you never have to wonder what is going on or prod them for updates
- Help you make medical appointments
- Help you find a mechanic to fix your car
- Advise you of your legal options, including the possible pros and cons of each
A lawyer serves as your legal counselor in what is often a trying time that can be rife with confusion. It can be helpful to have somebody by your side to interpret the law and handle all legal responsibilities on your behalf.
Call Today for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation
Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine now and let us help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Our consultations are always free, and there is no obligation to use our services.
A dedicated team member will be happy to take your call, learn the facts of your case, and inform you of how we can help. Don’t wait to reach out for legal help, as you may have a limited time to take action and pursue financial recovery.
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