Pain & Suffering Damages After a Car Accident
Pain and suffering damages refer to the compensation awarded for the physical pain and mental or emotional suffering experienced by someone injured in a car accident. They are a form of non-economic damages meant to reimburse victims for the adverse impact on their life rather than a direct financial loss.
How are Pain and Suffering Damages in Pennsylvania Calculated?
Assigning monetary value to pain and suffering can be challenging since they are subjective losses. Your car accident attorney, an insurance company, or a jury will often use one of the following two methods to calculate pain and suffering damages:
The multiplier method is the more commonly used procedure. First, the economic damages are totaled, which can include past and future costs of medical treatment, past and future lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and property damage. That amount is then multiplied by a number typically between 1.5 and 5. The more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier.
Per Diem Approach
This method assigns a dollar amount, frequently the person’s daily wages, to each day the victim suffers from the injury until they recover.
No law obligates insurers or juries to calculate pain and suffering damages this way. Occasionally, insurance companies use a sophisticated algorithm by a software program to come up with your settlement offer, which considers your type of injury and the medical care you have had, and ongoing treatment.
Factors in Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
A variety of factors will be taken into account to calculate pain and suffering damages that you may not expect. For example:
Whether or not you are suffering from emotional distress, such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of appetite
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Whether your daily life has been altered or limited, and how.
- If your relationships have been impacted.
- Whether you sleep and other lifestyle activities have changed.
- Your expected length of recovery and whether your personal injuries are permanent.
- If your life expectancy has potentially been shortened.
Permanent injuries or those that significantly impact a victim’s daily life will often result in higher awards for pain and suffering damages.
Should I Keep a Journal After a Car Accident?
Since two people can suffer the same injury and be impacted differently, pain and suffering damages are unique to each case. Providing additional evidence, such as a journal of your symptoms, can be critical to proving the extent of your pain and suffering and obtaining the compensation you deserve. Document your symptoms daily and also include:
- A description of each day. Include your pain level on a scale from 1 to 10, the type and duration of your symptoms, activities that you could not enjoy, tasks you were unable to do, and where you are emotionally (e.g., depressed, anxious, etc.).
- Fears. An injury can bring up worries about the future, such as whether you will lose your job, how you will pay bills, whether you will be able to play sports, etc.
- Who helped you. Include whether you had to lean on a family member or if an in-home medical specialist had to help you throughout the day. Describe the activities they had to help you with (e.g., getting dressed, cooking, driving, etc.)
Take pictures when you can, in addition to your journal. Having photo evidence of your recovery and any limitations due to your injury can assist with demonstrating the severity of your injury.