How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Car Accident? - Brown & Crouppen (2024)

Home How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Car Accident? - Brown & Crouppen (1) How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Car Accident?

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.

  • Last Modified:
  • June 3, 2024

BY

Brown & Crouppen

The purpose of awarding damages for pain and suffering is to make sure the person who got hurt is compensated for both the physical and emotional pain they went through. The money from the settlement won’t make their injuries go away, but it can help them pay for the care they need to get better.

If a car accident results in permanent disability, a settlement for pain and suffering can be a huge help for the victim’s family as they deal with the challenges that come with taking care of their loved one. If a car accident results in death, a settlement can help the victim’s family deal with the pain of losing their loved one. To make sure the settlement is fair, it’s important to calculate just the right amount of compensation. That’s where a skilled personal injury attorney comes in to help.

Car accident settlements for pain and suffering can range anywhere from a couple thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The amount you might be compensated for a personal injury claim depends on several factors. These include the severity of the injuries, how long it takes to heal and return to normal activities, the age and health of the victim, the amount of economic damages, the liability of the at-fault party, and where the accident occurred. There are multiple ways to calculate pain and suffering.

The “per diem” method, which assigns a daily rate for each day that a car accident victim suffered from the impacts of a crash:

  • [7 days in one week] x [20 weeks of pain and suffering] = 140 days of pain and suffering
  • [140 days of pain and suffering] x [$200 per day] = $28,000 of pain and suffering damages

The multiplier method which is based on a victim’s total economic damages:

  • [$20,000 of medical bills] + [ $10,000 of lost wages] + [$10,000 of expenses] = $40,000 of total economic damages
  • [$40,000 of total damages] x [3 multiplier] = $120,000 of pain and suffering damages

These methods are discussed in more detail below…

How Pain and Suffering Is Defined

“Pain and suffering” is a legal phrase that refers to both the physical and emotional injuries one sustains in a car accident. Pain and suffering are non-economic damages because they’re things you can’t put a price on. Economic damages (like medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses) can be identified by a specific dollar amount because they are documented by receipts, medical bills, and pay stubs. Because pain and suffering cannot be measured by a specific dollar amount, this allows personal injury attorneys more leeway when negotiating a settlement amount. In many cases, this can lead to increasinghow much someone can sue for car accident injuriesand damages.

There are all kinds of pain and suffering out there, but most can be put into two categories: physical pain and emotional pain.

Physical Pain and Suffering

When you get hurt in a car accident, you’re likely to feel all sorts of discomforts, aches, and pains. Pain can be short-term or chronic, lasting for weeks, months, or years. Even worse, some injuries are permanent and can cause lifelong pain and difficulty.

Physical symptoms that may qualify for a pain and suffering settlement include:

  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Soft tissue damage – sprains, inflammation, soreness, bruising, etc.
  • Headaches
  • Nerve damage – tingling and burning sensations
  • Back and neck tightness and stiffness
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Internal organ damage
  • Paralysis

More severe injuries will generally lead to higher pain and suffering and to higher settlement or verdict awards. If you experience physical pain following an accident, this is generally a good indicator that you shouldget an attorney after a car accident.

Emotional Pain and Suffering

Getting hurt in a car accident often comes with more than just physical pain. The emotional toll can be just as bad. Sometimes, the emotional pain can stop you from living your life to the fullest.

Emotional symptoms that may qualify for pain and suffering settlement include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Mental anguish
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Not being able to engage in activities you once enjoyed
  • Strain on personal relationships
  • Negative impact on self-esteem due to disfigurement and scarring
  • Irritability
  • Personality changes

If someone dies in a car accident because of another driver’s carelessness, their family could also experience grief and loss of companionship. Loss of companionship means losing the benefits of a family relationship.

It’s important to understand how pain and suffering might affect the value of your claim alongside the help of an attorney. This is because once you settle with the insurance company, you will generally not be able to pursue any future claims for damages (such as pain and suffering) that may not have been considered.

Average Settlement Amount for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident

The amount you might get in a car accident settlement for pain and suffering can vary. It could be just a couple thousand dollars, or it could go all the way up to $250,000 or even $500,000. It all depends on several factors such as the severity of the injuries, how long it takes to heal and return to normal activities, the age and health of the victim, the amount of economic damages, the liability of the at-fault party, and where the accident occurred.

If you have severe injuries or a permanent disability, you’re likely to get more money in a settlement. On the other hand, if you had a mild soft tissue injury that went away after a few physical therapy and/or chiropractor visits, your settlement might not be as high. If you were in a major crash with a tractor-trailer, your injuries will probably be worse, and you’ll likely be awarded more than if you were rear-ended at a stoplight.

There’s no set amount of money for pain and suffering in car accident settlements, but your personal injury attorney may look at past cases similar to yours to give you a general idea of what to expect. However, each case is different, and past results do not predict future performance.

Note: The average settlement for a car accident is approximately $25,400. However, this includes cases where only minor or moderate injuries occurred, which means pain and suffering was not awarded.

Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering

Per Diem Method

“Per diem” is Latin for “daily rate.” When an attorney talks about using the per diem method to calculate pain and suffering, they’re figuring out how much money to assign for each day someone suffers after an accident. The goal is to calculate a daily rate for pain and suffering based on how much the person might have earned each day if they hadn’t gotten hurt. So, if someone was in a car crash and had to deal with a broken bone and attend physical therapy for a while, the attorney would use this daily rate to estimate how much they should get for their pain and suffering.

For example, say the person usually makes $200 a day. If they went through 20 weeks (or 140 days) of pain and suffering, the attorney would multiply that $200 rate by 140 days to get a rough estimate of what they’re owed. It’s a way of putting a number on how much someone’s suffering is worth, based on the time they had to deal with it.

Here’s an example of the “per diem” formula in action:

  • [7 days in one week] x [20 weeks of pain and suffering] = 140 days of pain and suffering
  • [140 days of pain and suffering] x [$200 per day] = $28,000 of pain and suffering damages

Multiplier Method

Personal injury attorneys tend to use the multiplier method for pain and suffering more often than the per diem method. Which method is used varies on a case-by-case basis. For example, if a victim’s daily compensation isn’t very high or varies on a day-to-day basis, it’s probably not beneficial to use the per diem method. This way, a victim’s compensation isn’t tied to how much they make. Instead of focusing on the victim’s daily earnings, the multiplier method looks at their total economic damages.

To figure out the total pain and suffering amount, a personal injury attorney will add up all the victim’s economic damages, and then they’ll multiply that total by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on how bad the accident was and which type of injuries the victim sustained. A minor injury with quick recovery might get a multiplier of 1.5, while a severe, disabling injury with long-lasting effects could get a multiplier of 4.5. A skilled personal injury attorney can help gather all your economic damages and expenses and figure out a fair multiplier for your case based on your physical and emotional suffering.

Here’s an example of the multiplier method in action:

  • [$20,000 of medical bills] + [ $10,000 of lost wages] + [$10,000 of expenses] = $40,000 of total economic damages
  • [$40,000 of total damages] x [3 multiplier] = $120,000 of pain and suffering damages

How to Prove Pain and Suffering Following a Car Accident

A personal injury attorney will help you gather the evidence necessary to prove your pain and suffering claim. While proving physical injuries like scars, bruises, or broken bones can be done with photos, it takes the skill of an experienced personal injury attorney to prove chronic pain and emotional suffering. So, when it comes to proving pain and suffering, it’s more complex than just taking photos. To make sure your pain and suffering are documented properly, you’ll want to gather all different kinds of evidence to present to the insurance company when making your claim for damages.

Note: Generally, cases with claims of pain and suffering often take longer to settle due to medical recovery. Most car accident cases settle within 6-9 months after medical treatment has been completed.

Different types of evidence that can prove pain and suffering can include the following:

Medical Bills and Records: Proof of medical expenses, written formal diagnoses, treatment plans and reports written by physicians, prescription receipts, and medical device receipts can all prove the severity of your injuries.

Receipts for Accident-Related Expenses: Receipts for hiring professionals to perform household chores, yard work, or other things you can no longer do yourself because of your accident-related injuries, pay stubs showing your loss of income due to missing time from work, and travel-related expenses for going to and from doctor’s appointments are all forms of documentation that can prove your pain and suffering.

Written and/or Video Diaries: Documenting your symptoms, thoughts, and feelings in a written or video diary from the day of the accident through the course of your recovery can serve as great evidence of emotional pain as well as documenting the healing process from your physical injuries.

Witness Statements: Statements from people who witnessed the accident can speak to the immediate pain and suffering you endured following the accident. Statements from friends or family members who have witnessed any changes in your behavior or ability to do things can also help support your claim for physical and emotional suffering. For example, your partner may have noticed that you’re more irritable since the accident. Your roommate may have noticed that you’re unable to complete household chores without pain. Your friends may have noticed that your pain keeps you from participating in social activities. All of these statements can prove your physical and emotional pain, so don’t be surprised if your attorney asks to speak with people who are close to you.

Expert Statements: Your attorney may consult different experts to back up your claim for pain and suffering:

  • Medical experts: Are able to speak about how the accident caused your injuries, how your injuries have affected other parts of your body, how your injuries have caused or exacerbated certain medical conditions, and what kind of medical treatment you’ll require in the future.
  • Accident reconstruction experts: They use physics and mathematics to analyze collisions and personal injuries. They evaluate evidence from the scene and perform forensic analysis to determine the cause of the accident and who is at fault.
  • Expert psychologists or psychiatrists: They evaluate the mental health of car accident victims and determine how their injuries are linked to the accident. Psychologists can conduct tests to identify post-injury symptoms like depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. They can also speak about the kind of psychological treatment you’ll require in the future.
  • Home visit with your attorney: When your attorney writes to the insurance company demanding compensation for your pain and suffering, they take on the role of a storyteller. By visiting your home, an attorney can see with their own eyes what your day-to-day life looks like since the accident. This allows them to be the best storyteller when talking about your pain and suffering. A home visit provides them with access to photos and objects that can inspire follow-up questions or trigger additional stories. It’s probably easier for you to recall memories by referring to photos in your home or speaking about what around the house is difficult for you (staircases that are too difficult to climb, cabinets that are too high to reach, etc.) when your attorney can see those difficulties in person.

Ultimately, the amount you receive from damages associated with pain and suffering will depend on several factors that will be unique to your case. At Brown & Crouppen, we understand the frustration of dealing with the aftermath of a car crash. The accident may happen in an instant, but the pain and inconvenience can last months afterward. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in St. Louis or the surrounding areas, get a free case evaluation from an attorney at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm. We can help you build a strong claim for pain and suffering compensation.

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