Car accidents can get expensive, with all the hospital expenses, property loss and damage, and lost income during the days you missed work. You can file a lawsuit against the driver at fault for negligence, drunk driving, or whatever is applicable in your case. You can also demand damages or financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.
Determining the compensation for your medical and hospital expenses and lost wages is relatively straightforward. But how do you quantify pain and suffering in an auto accident?
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional stress you sustained from the accident and the lasting impact it has afterward. It’s relatively easier to put a dollar value on your physical injuries. For example, if you broke your arm in the accident, you’ll get an exact figure for your hospital bills, medications, and therapy expenses. But the cost of the emotional impact – the agony of enduring the injury, the discomfort it causes, and the imposed limitations on your lifestyle – is harder to calculate.
Insurance companies immediately assume that you’re not experiencing any pain and suffering if you didn’t go to the doctor. They look at the permanency and severity of your injuries to get a ballpark figure of your compensation. This means that you’re entitled to a higher sum if, for example, you sustained a cranial fracture compared to a broken arm.
The insurance company is likely to give a higher dollar value for your injuries if you support it with medical records, which is why it’s crucial that you visit a doctor after the accident. You can strengthen your claim further by presenting your hospital and medication bills, prescription records, photos of your injuries, and an official letter from your employer corroborating your missed work days.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is the often-used approach of personal injury lawyers and insurance companies in calculating pain and suffering. The insurance provider will add up your medical special damages or the total medical expenses related to your injury plus your lost wages. This will be the base figure that your insurer will use to determine how much to compensate you for your pain, suffering, and general damages, which are the direct effects of the accident.
The multiplier ranges between 1.5 and 5, with 5 being the highest, depending on the severity of your injuries. For example, you sustained relatively minor injuries, so the insurer used a 1.5 multiplier. Say that your medical bills are worth $6,000 and your lost wages is $1,000, this would total $10,500 after the 1.5 multiplier. Note that this isn’t the final compensation amount, rather the starting price for negotiations.
You can use this settlement calculator by AllLaw to help you get a ballpark figure of your compensation value.
Pain and Suffering Compensation in No-Fault States
Most states charge the driver at fault’s insurance company for the damages settlement, but some states follow a no-fault approach. This streamlines the compensation process since victims don’t have to file a lawsuit and prove that the other party caused the accident. This also means you have to appeal to your insurance company to compensate you for your medical expenses.
But some no-fault states allow you to sue the negligent driver for damages if your medical bills exceed a certain amount. For example, a car accident attorney in West Jordan, Utah can’t help you file a case against the other driver because Utah is a no-fault state, unless you meet threshold requirements. One of these requirements is that you must have spent, at least, $3,000 in medical bills for your injuries due to the accident. That also happens to be the same amount the state requires its drivers to carry in their no-fault insurance.
Other no-fault states are Hawaii, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and New York.
Whether you’re in a fault or no-fault state, it’s still best to seek legal advice so you can build your case. This way, you can also maximize your compensation from your auto accident claim.