How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident?
After a car accident, you could suffer from excruciating injuries. The pain you experience could last for a short time or the rest of your life. If someone else caused the accident that harmed you, you can recover compensation for your losses. The type of compensation you could recover for physical pain and emotional trauma is called pain and suffering damages.
A Phoenix car accident attorney can help determine how much you could get for pain and suffering after a car accident. All cases are unique, and many factors go into calculating how much you could recover from these damages. We’ll explore them further here and explain why consulting a lawyer is in your best interest.
Defining Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is the amount of physical or emotional pain someone goes through because of injuries they sustained. Pain and suffering is considered a non-economic damage because it’s not tied to a set monetary value—instead, the injured person is compensated for their physical and emotional pain.
Two types of pain and suffering include:
- Physical pain and suffering: This encompasses the physical pain a person felt or feels because of their injuries, along with discomfort, inconvenience, and any pain they might have to endure in the future.
- Mental pain and suffering: When people are injured in an accident, they often deal with emotional impacts afterward. Whether it’s trauma from the accident or the fear caused by their injuries, these could be included in pain and suffering damages. Significant mental pain could include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could recover both physical and mental pain and suffering. Getting documentation from a doctor indicating the physical or emotional pain you experienced could help prove you deserve pain and suffering damages.
Ask an Attorney to Help Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
An attorney can help determine how much you might get for pain and suffering after a car accident. Most law firms know how to calculate these intangible damages, including comparing them to other damages you sustained.
There are certain formulas that attorneys use to determine how much compensation you should seek for pain and suffering damages. The insurance company won’t have your best interest in mind when coming up with the value of your pain and suffering damages. It’s helpful to have someone experienced looking out for you during this process.
Factors That Insurance Companies Consider to Determine Pain and Suffering
Insurance companies consider several factors when determining if they will pay pain and suffering damages. The severity of your injuries plays the most important role. The insurance company involved in your case might use its own methods to determine the amount of pain and suffering damages you should recover. If this amount is too low, an attorney can advocate for you and explain why you deserve more.
Insurance companies often want to settle personal injury cases as quickly as possible. Their focus is also to spend the least amount of money they can—therefore, it’s typical for insurance companies to offer a lower amount of compensation than you deserve, sometimes just days (or even hours) after the accident. However, you have a right to seek more damages if you choose.
Many accident victims who sustain injuries feel uncomfortable when speaking to insurance company representatives. Your attorney can handle all communication for you as they work to negotiate a fair offer that maximizes your compensation, including pain and suffering damages.
Proving Your Pain and Suffering Damages to the Insurance Company
To recover pain and suffering damages from the liable party’s insurance company, you must prove that you endured pain. It’s critical to provide as much documentation as possible to indicate the severity of your injuries.
This documentation could include:
- Notes from a doctor or surgeon who treated you at the hospital shortly after the accident.
- Notes from a doctor who provides ongoing care for your injuries
- Notes from a rehabilitative therapist if you completed any occupational or physical therapy treatments
- Photographs of your injuries
- Personal journals that share your feelings of pain
- Proof that you sought therapy from a mental health professional and received a mental health condition diagnosis
Any documentation you have regarding the severity of your injuries can help prove that you endured a great deal of pain—and may continue to do so for years to come.
Other Damages You Could Recover After a Car Accident
Beyond pain and suffering, there are many other damages you could recover after a car accident. Some are economic damages, while others are non-economic damages.
Economic damages are actual monetary losses you incurred because of your injuries. Recovering these damages can help make you financially whole again.
Examples of economic damages after a car accident include:
- Medical expenses: You could include any out-of-pocket medical expenses you had to pay, such as emergency treatment, doctor visits, surgeries, hospitalizations, diagnostic tests, or medications.
- Future medical expenses: Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could have medical expenses far into the future. By filing a claim or lawsuit against the liable party, you could recover the projected costs of your future medical expenses.
- Rehabilitation costs: In some cases, your injuries might require you to undergo rehabilitative therapies such as physical or occupational therapy. You could include the out-of-pocket costs in your claim if you need these treatments.
- Lost income: If you had to miss work because of the severity of your injuries, you could recover the income you lost during that time. You could also include any income lost when you had to leave work for doctor appointments, etc.
- Future lost income: If your injuries are so severe that you can no longer work in the same capacity, you could include the projected cost of your future lost income.
- Property damage: You could include any damage to your car or other property sustained in the accident, such as a broken cell phone or damaged clothing or jewelry.
Economic damages are easier to calculate because they are typically associated with an exact monetary value. Keeping records of any costs you had to pay related to the accident is crucial to ensuring that you recover the maximum compensation. An attorney can help you seek financial compensation for all the economic damages you endured.
There are many non-economic damages you could recover along with pain and suffering damages.
- Loss of enjoyment: People who can no longer participate in activities they once loved because of their injuries could recover loss of enjoyment damages—for example, if you can’t play your favorite sport or do certain hobbies anymore.
- Loss of consortium: An injured person’s loved ones could seek loss of consortium damages if their loved one’s injuries were so severe that they passed away or were incapacitated. These damages compensate the victim’s loved ones for the loss of companionship they no longer have.
Non-economic damages are often more difficult to calculate, mostly because they aren’t associated with an exact monetary value. Just like with pain and suffering damages, an attorney can help calculate the value of your non-economic damages. Adding up the totals of your economic and non-economic damages determines how much total compensation to seek.
Common Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
Car accidents often cause very painful injuries. Because of this, many people who sustain injuries in car accidents can recover pain and suffering damages. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that over 2.7 million people sustained injuries in car accidents in just one year.
You could sustain two types of injuries in a car accident: an impact injury or a penetrating injury. An impact injury occurs when part of the body hits the inside of the car. A penetrating injury occurs when you get hurt by something sharp in the car, such as glass.
Common injuries sustained in car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Loss of limbs
You need medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident. The sooner doctors treat your injuries, the better. Many of the injuries above require immediate care to ensure the person survives the accident.
Factors That Play a Role in the Severity of the Injuries
There are several factors that can influence the severity of a person’s injuries from a car accident.
- If the person was wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred
- If the car got hit from the front, side, or back
- If the person was facing straight ahead when the accident occurred or if they faced the side or the back of the car
- The speed of the collision (collisions that occur at higher speeds are more likely to cause significant injuries)
- If the car had airbags and if they deployed when the accident occurred
Sometimes, these factors could mean the difference between life and death in a car accident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pain and Suffering Damages
These are some of the most common questions that potential clients ask attorneys about seeking compensation after a car accident, including pain and suffering damages.
Can I Represent Myself During an Injury Claim?
People who do not seek legal assistance often put themselves in a vulnerable position with the insurance company. Insurance companies usually try to take advantage of those who represent themselves by offering low settlements and using high-pressure tactics—all to get the claim settled as quickly as possible and for the lowest possible amount of money.
An attorney can guide you through every step of the claims process, including:
- Speaking to the insurance company for you. Your only focus should be on recovering from the accident, not fighting with the insurance company for fair compensation. Letting an attorney handle all communication also helps ensure that you don’t say anything to put your settlement in jeopardy.
- Calculating your damages. Without an attorney, you might not realize how much your damages are worth. An attorney can calculate your damages to ensure that you seek as much compensation as possible.
- Negotiating with the insurance company. After determining how much your damages are worth, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Many attorneys have experience dealing with insurance companies and understand the tactics they use to get accident victims to accept lowball offers.
- Representing you in court if necessary. If the insurance company refuses to pay a fair amount, an attorney can fight for you in court.
Again, having an attorney during the claims process is not required, but it is highly recommended as you fight for a personal injury settlement.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Each state has its own statute of limitations that indicates how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. For example, people in Arizona have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Once the two years are up, you will likely lose your right to pursue compensation and lose your leverage in settlement negotiations with the insurance company—so time is of the essence.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Pursue Pain and Suffering Damages
For more information about how much you could get for pain and suffering after a car accident, contact a personal injury attorney. A qualified attorney can help you figure out much your case is worth by calculating both your economic and non-economic damages, then fight for justice on your behalf.
Most law firms offer free consultations, which is an ideal opportunity to ask questions and discuss your options.