How to Calculate Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident

Personal injury claims or lawsuits are intended to compensate victims for various damages after they have suffered an injury from a car accident. The most common of these damages include medical expenses, loss of wages, and property losses or damages. However, something that is more challenging to calculate, but is just as important, is the victim’s physical and emotional pain and suffering. Here’s how to calculate pain and suffering after a car accident.

Physical and emotional suffering is more of an intangible thing, but it is something that can have a significant impact on a person’s life after an accident, and thus they deserve to be compensated for it. And despite being something that does not hold a specific monetary value, methods have been developed to help courts and insurers calculate pain and suffering compensation.

Keep in mind, however, that though there are methods to calculate pain and suffering, it is still common for insurers to fight to have settlement amounts reduced by as much as possible. They do this to avoid paying out so much money to victims throughout the year. So when you file a claim or a lawsuit, do not automatically assume that you will get the compensation you deserve.

In most cases, it is best to have an attorney on your side, advocating for your rights. Without an attorney, insurers will take advantage and typically offer quick, reduced settlements without fully taking all that you have suffered into consideration. A personal injury lawyer can help you fight back against this and ensure all necessary evidence is provided to support your case and prove how much you have suffered or will suffer in the future.

How is “Pain and Suffering” Defined by Law?

In legal cases, pain and suffering refers to the emotional and physical damages that a person suffers from after a car accident. Most states view pain and suffering the same way, and Indiana’s pain and suffering law is no exception.

When determining or defining someone’s pain and suffering, the courts and insurers will look at two things:

  1. Physical pain and suffering: This includes the level of physical pain a person is in, their discomfort as a result of their physical pain, and how their life has been affected by their physical pain and injuries.
  2. Mental pain and suffering: This focuses on the emotional toll that the accident and injury have had on the victim’s life, such as grief, depression, humiliation, PTSD, anxiety, stress, fear, and worry.

These types of damages are also drastically different from one person to the next. There is no way to know how a person will emotionally handle an accident and an injury or how they will be affected by the physical pain. This is why there is no way to offer victims an estimated or upfront amount. The individual situation and circumstances must be fully evaluated first before the court or insurers will know how to calculate pain and suffering after a car accident. 

How Will My Pain and Suffering Damages Be Calculated?

Before explaining exactly how pain and suffering is calculated, it’s helpful first to understand how damages are categorized. When a person files a personal injury claim or a lawsuit in Indiana, there are three kinds of damages they can recover:

  • Economic damages: These are the monetary losses the victim suffers after an accident, including current and future medical expenses, lost income or wages, and property damage.
  • Non-economic damages: These are the damages the victim suffers that hold no monetary value, such as their physical and emotional pain and suffering. It can also include things like loss of consortium or loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Punitive damages: These types of damages are not as common but are awarded as a way to punish the defendant if they acted with the purposeful intent to cause harm, otherwise known as malice or gross negligence.

It’s important to understand the different types of damages because one of the methods for calculating pain and suffering involves multiplying the economic damages. All three methods that may be used to calculate how much your pain and suffering is worth include:

  1. The multiplier method: This method involves assigning the victim a rating based on their condition and then multiplying that by the amount they are awarded for their economic damages. The rating scale generally goes from one to three but can go as high as five. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in economic damages and a condition rating of 2, you would receive $200,000 for your pain and suffering.
  2. The per diem method: This method looks at the victim’s pain and suffering and assigns them an estimated daily rate for all days they have or will suffer. So if you are assigned a daily rate of $400, and you fully recover from your injuries after three years, you would receive $438,000, which is 400 times 1095 days (3 years).
  3. The combination (hybrid) method: The hybrid method uses both of the above systems to determine the overall amount to be awarded for pain and suffering. Essentially, both methods are used with slight tweaks depending on the specifics of the accident. An example would be an insurer using the per diem method but then also adding a small multiplier to the economic damages and combining the totals together.

Again, however, though this might seem like a good way to come up with an amount for pain and suffering, it is still common for insurers to assign low ratings or daily rates to avoid paying more than they’d like. This is why it is essential to have an attorney representing you. They will fight for your rights and ensure that enough evidence is provided to get you as much money as possible. With an attorney on your side, you are less likely to be taken advantage of by insurance companies looking for an easy payout.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery — Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are injured in an accident or have questions or concerns about how your pain and suffering damages are being calculated, the personal injury attorneys at Poynter & Bucheri can assist you. Navigating legal cases and understanding how everything works can be overwhelming and stressful. Our goal is to guide you through the process and advocate for your rights to ensure the best possible outcome and the highest compensation amount.

Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.