How much compensation you can recover for pain and suffering after a car accident depends on your case’s specifics. Unfortunately, the circumstances of each case vary so greatly that no one-size-fits-all number can encapsulate the amount of money an injury victim can receive.
Instead, it’s useful to consider the factors determining your pain and suffering damages to understand the compensation you could recover. One person’s pain and suffering may come to a couple of thousand dollars, while another person’s damages may come to six figures. A Myrtle Beach injury attorney can help you understand your case and how much you can seek.
In general, the pain and suffering damages you could receive depends on numerous factors, including but not limited to:
- Your medical expenses
- Your injuries and their severity
- The effects of the injury on your life
- Who bears liability
- Your lawyer’s ability to prove the damages you suffered
Pain and Suffering Refers to Intangible Damages
The phrase pain and suffering describes several non-economic losses an injury victim experiences. It references the injuries to your physical state, your emotional state, and your mental state that a car accident causes. This contrasts with economic damages, which refers only to the financial losses you suffered from the accident.
Pain and suffering could stem from the hassle of a broken leg or the distress you feel at being unable to work or play with your child around the house. These losses are intangible, and you cannot easily put a number on them. However, by law, these things may deserve compensation after a car accident. Generally, you could recover economic and non-economic damages after a car accident.
Unlike your economic losses, which correspond directly to a monetary value (say, the cost of the surgery for your leg), you must assign a dollar value to your non-economic losses. Therefore, calculating pain and suffering often proves complicated and can benefit from the help of a local lawyer after a car accident. After all, your compensation for pain and suffering requires evidence.
You cannot ask for what you believe you deserve without justification. A legal professional can assign a fair value to your non-economic damages.
What Types of Losses Fall Under Pain and Suffering?
Multiple types of losses could qualify under pain and suffering. These losses include the categories discussed below.
Physical Pain and Suffering
Car accidents often leave victims with physical injuries. They might prove minor or catastrophic, but a victim rarely walks away unscathed. Even those who feel fine at first may discover the onset of pain, swelling, bruises, or stiffness after the fact.
Physical pain and suffering can include:
- Feeling chronic or acute pain
- Serious and catastrophic injuries
- Scars or disfigurement
A Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer can use evidence such as statements from your doctor or other healthcare professionals to support your claim for physical suffering damages.
Emotional and Psychological Pain and Suffering
Experiencing a car accident can leave you with psychological and emotional injuries with which you may have difficulty coping. For this reason, you could seek damages for your emotional pain and suffering.
Emotional pain and suffering refers to a type of non-economic loss.
These losses could also include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Night terrors and nightmares
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Behavioral changes
- Shame or embarrassment
- Other psychological trauma
If you saw a therapist or another counselor for your emotional or psychological hardships, a lawyer can use this as evidence of emotional suffering. Your lawyer could also use your testimony or statements from a family member to demonstrate the changes in your life caused by a crash or injury.
Reduced Quality of Life and Other Losses
Additional intangible losses may not easily fit into physical or emotional pain categories but can affect your emotional state or financial standing. You could seek compensation for these other intangible damages.
For instance, if you can no longer participate in the sports you love, independently cook dinner, or sit down without pain, your quality of life may suffer.
You could recover damages for:
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
- Loss of consortium
Economic Damages Recoverable in a Car Accident Claim
Now that you understand pain and suffering, it’s important to understand how your overall compensation might include these damages. In addition to your non-economic losses, you can get compensation for your financial losses.
Your car accident may leave you with the following types of economic losses that you can recover dollar for dollar:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Lost income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Travel expenses
- Damage to your vehicle
- Mental health counseling
- Prescription medication
- Assistive devices and mobility aids
- Paying for help around the house
- Additional daily incidentals
A lawyer can calculate your economic losses using financial documentation, such as bills, receipts, pay stubs, and bank statements. Generally, the higher your economic damages, the more you could seek in pain and suffering damages.
Factors That Can Influence the Value of Your Pain and Suffering
Several factors collectively determine the potential value of your pain and suffering in a car accident and the total amount you may receive in a settlement. Some of these factors include:
Insurers and attorneys consider your injuries when calculating your pain and suffering damages. The number, type, and severity of the injuries you sustained can play integral factors. Generally, the worse your injuries, the higher your non-economic damages.
Some common car accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (concussion, coma, etc.)
- Spinal injuries (including paralysis)
- Damaged organs
- Broken or fractured bones
- Bruises, lacerations, and abrasions
- Pelvic injuries
- Chest injuries
- Abdominal trauma
- Neck injury
- Amputated limbs
- Herniated discs
- Damaged nerves
- Loss of sight or hearing
- Soft tissue sprains and strains
Likelihood and Extent of Recovery
To fairly compensate you for your pain and suffering, your lawyer must determine the extent and likelihood of your recovery. To do this, a car accident attorney can consider the doctor’s report on your prognosis.
For instance, a person likely to get better in three months may not receive the same compensation as a person who needs at least a year to return to 70 percent of their previous health or functionality. Some trauma such as certain brain injuries, lost limbs, or damaged organs will never heal. Permanent injuries generally demand higher compensation than temporary ones.
The age of a car accident victim can affect their ability to recover and their quality of life. An elder injured in a car crash may have a lower chance of surviving their injuries. An injured child may lose their capacity to grow up with their full physical capabilities.
For example, if a six-year-old suffers an amputated arm, he or she faces every day for the rest of their life without that limb, which could be another 80 years. That also means they miss out on many activities or have to grow up fearing ridicule from others.
The previous health status of a car accident victim can also affect their pain and suffering. An injury attorney can consider this when calculating your damages. For example, a person who already suffers from health conditions can face debilitating injuries that a healthier person could eventually bounce back from.
The Affect on Your Life
The overall affect of a car accident and injuries on your life can constitute a major factor in determining your pain and suffering damages. Your physical injuries may make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks or engage in social activities you enjoy.
On top of that, if you face effects on your mental health, you could have an extra layer of challenges to push through. Depression or sleep deprivation from insomnia can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning or cause you to isolate yourself from family and friends. As a result, your job and relationships may erode.
Liable Insurance Policy Limits
The liable car insurance policy that applies to your pain and suffering claim may affect your compensation amount. In most cases, insurance companies only pay out economic or non-economic damages up to policy limits.
So, if an individual driver bears liability for your crash, you could seek compensation for pain and suffering based on the limits of their policy or file a lawsuit to seek a higher amount, if your case warrants it. On the other hand, if a corporate insurance policy bears liability, you could have higher limits from which to seek compensation for pain and suffering. This can happen when a truck driver causes a crash, for instance.
Your injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and help you seek a fair compensation amount for your pain and suffering.
Building Your Case for Pain and Suffering After a Crash
Your car accident attorney must build a strong case to ensure you recover the economic and non-economic damages you deserve. Your existing and future financial expenses can prove simple to pursue because the documentation often directly reflects your losses.
Successfully recovering non-economic damages often hinges on your lawyer’s ability to demonstrate that you have sustained those losses. They may prove these intangible losses through anecdotal, medical, or scientific evidence.
Evidence Supporting Injury Claims
Your attorney may need to gather the following to support your pain and suffering claims:
- Your medical records
- Doctors’ reports
- Scientific research studies
- Photos and videos of injuries
- Expert testimony
- Other witness testimony
A car accident attorney may seek the testimony of experts in fields such as life-care planning, economics, mental health, or cognitive and physical disability.
The opinions of qualified professionals can provide strong support for your pain and suffering. Insurance companies do not want to approve claims that they cannot justify. However, reputed experts can provide persuasive evidence.
In addition, testimony from family, friends, and coworkers who can corroborate your pain and suffering claims can help support your case. Those close to you could explain the changes they observe in your behavior, mood, and work.
A Myrtle Beach car accident lawyer should also consider whether a judge or jury could prove sympathetic to your suffering and the types of damages you claim in the event of a trial. Insurers tend to weigh the probability of certain outcomes at trial when making decisions. If your pain and suffering are such that a jury could award you compensation for these damages, you could more likely recover this in your car accident claim.
Wrongful Death Pain and Suffering Damages
Family members of victims who lost their lives in car accidents can also recover damages in a personal injury claim. Specifically, they would need to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.
Families can recover economic and non-economic damages.
In a wrongful death case, surviving loved ones could seek compensation for pain and suffering and other intangible losses such as:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance
In addition, they can recover financial losses such as:
- Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses
- Medical care costs
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of services
- Related bills and expenses
A Lawyer Can Help You Seek the Pain and Suffering Damages You Deserve
Calculating your pain and suffering after a car accident can prove difficult to do all on your own. It can be crucial to have a car accident lawyer help you file and build your injury claim.
They know how much you could seek for pain and suffering, and it’s their job to ensure you seek adequate compensation for all your non-economic damages.
They can investigate the evidence in your case, submit a demand to the insurance company, negotiate for a fair settlement, and even represent you during a lawsuit if necessary.