Insurance companies typically use either the multiplier method or the per diem method to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident case. Putting a dollar value on pain and suffering damages is a complex process because this noneconomic award category is less tangible than, for example, medical expenses or repair bills and thus harder to prove.
The aftermath of a car accident may mean a trip to the emergency room, imaging tests, possible surgeries, and days, weeks, or even months of pain and recovery. Your injuries can leave you with physical and emotional scars. You will want to know how your insurance company will calculate pain and suffering in your car accident.
Defining Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering describes the physical or emotional trauma caused by an accident and the injuries that result. The crash may have left you with a neck or back injury that no longer allows you to enjoy the activities you once did. Perhaps you suffered burns in the accident, and you now have permanent disfigurement or scarring. The traumatic experience may have left you unable to sleep.
Any of these injuries can cause lifelong physical and psychological wounds that may be difficult to quantify. How pain and suffering is calculated in a car accident case is critical to the compensation you could receive in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
How the Insurance Company Calculates Pain and Suffering
The insurance company will analyze several factors to determine the amount of monetary damages to allot for your pain and suffering following a car accident.
Seek Medical Attention Following a Car Accident
Symptoms from injuries such as whiplash, neck or back sprains, or concussions may take days to surface. If you do not seek medical treatment after the accident, the insurance company will most likely not attach much value to your injury. If you did not see a doctor immediately after the accident, you might want to schedule an appointment to have a doctor evaluate you for delayed symptoms and document your injuries. This documentation will prove important to any personal injury lawsuit you might pursue against the at-fault driver.
Evidence the Insurance Company Will Review
As part of your personal injury claim, the insurance company will have access to your medical records. If you took time off from work or school to see a doctor for your injuries, this would help validate your claim. It also applies to lost wages due to the time you missed from your job to recuperate from your accident injuries.
The insurance company will review certain records related to your case to help determine a monetary value for your pain and suffering, including:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Photographs of your injuries
- Prescription medication costs
- Receipts for over-the-counter medications or assistive medical devices (e.g., crutches or wheelchairs)
- Employer documentation of time missed from work
It is best to keep all records, receipts, and documentation from your accident in a safe and secure place you can readily access.
Using the Multiplier Method
Putting a price tag on your pain and suffering can prove challenging. Many insurance companies use the multiplier method to calculate these intangible damages. The multiplier method is an equation where you add up the actual damages and multiply the total by a number between 1.5 and five. The number by which you multiply (the multiplier) indicates the level or degree of your pain and suffering.
For example, if you suffered significant injuries, such as permanent disability, your multiplier would be close to five to determine your pain and suffering damages. The more severe the injuries, the higher the multiplier used to attach a monetary value to your mental anguish and emotional distress.
Using the Per Diem Method
Insurance companies less often use the per diem method for determining pain and suffering damages. This method assigns a dollar value for one day of damages (typically a day’s pay from work), then multiplies it by the number of days that your injuries affected you.
Time Limits for Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you choose to seek compensation for injuries and losses you suffered in a car accident, keep in mind there are time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Every state has its statute of limitations for lawsuits brought in civil court. It may be a good idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer in your area to ensure you do not lose your right to pursue compensation by missing any critical deadlines.
Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car crash due to another driver’s negligence, you could be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can help determine liability and how pain and suffering is calculated in your car accident case. Contact a car accident attorney to discuss the details of your case. We are here for you and do not shy away from tough cases.