How is Pain and Suffering Determined in an Accident Case?
If you were injured in an accident that someone else caused then yes you can sue for pain and suffering. The legal definition of pain and suffering in Texas refers to the trauma you and your body suffered when you experienced the impact at the time of the accident or incident. Your attorney and insurance companies have different methods of calculating the amount of damages you can sue for. Generally speaking these damages relate to the costs of medical treatment and lost wages. For example, if you suffered a broken arm in a car accident you probably made a visit to a hospital emergency room and then an orthopedic surgeon and then perhaps a therapist. If you missed work for a few days, weeks or longer your daily or weekly earnings have to be calculated and documented. These “hard” costs would be part of the damages your attorney demands as part of your settlement.
How much can I sue for?
Attorneys use different methods to calculate your damages, some will use a multiplier based on the costs to treat your injuries while others will use a daily rate method or their professional experience or a combination of all of these. No matter which method is used it is important that work with your attorney to obtain all medical bills and get documentation regarding your time missed from work.
Using a Multiplier to Calculate Damages
Depending on the severity of your injuries and the length of your treatment and recovery a multiplier of 3 or 4 might be used for serious injuries and 1 or 2 for less serious injuries. For example, if you suffered a broken arm and had medical bills of $6,000 and $2,000 in lost wages then a total of $8,000 would be multiplied by 3 to come up with total damages of $24,000.
In some cases a higher multiple may be justified. For example if the other driver was negligent and drunk when he hit you or if they were racing or demonstrating some other form of risky driving behavior your attorney may use a higher multiple of 5 or 7. It is important that you contact an experienced car accident attorney to find out how much you can sue for. An attorney will know what evidence must be gathered to support the amount of damages in your claim with the insurance company or a lawsuit against them.
If it was a child or teenager who was injured a higher multiplier might be used especially if the youngster will have some sort of permanent damage. Juries tend to be more sensitive to injuries that affect children. For instance if a young teenager suffers a fracture to their lower extremities like their knee, leg or foot this could impact their life. If the fracture does not heal properly and they are unable to take part in dance or sports in school because of the accident, a higher multiplier is justified.
Daily Rate or Per Diem
Another method that can be used to calculate how much you can sue for is a daily rate. You will need your daily income so you and your attorney can use that along with the number of days you were treated for your injuries. If your daily income is $200 and it took 40 days to fully recover from treatments at a hospital emergency room, with an orthopedic surgeon and therapists, your total loss for that period would be $8,000.
With any injury and claim against an insurance company it is important that you only get treated until you fully recover. If you suffered soft tissue injuries you should be careful not to over-treat your injury by making excessive number of visits to chiropractors and therapists. If it appears from your medical records that you were getting treatment for things that were beyond what was reasonable this could negatively affect your claim and your attorney’s ability to effectively negotiate on your behalf.
A settlement in an injury case will be comprised of monetary and non-economic damages. Monetary damages are those that are easy to quantify and include the cost of your medical treatment and lost time from work. The cost of your medical treatment typically includes transportation to the hospital in an ambulance or being airlifted, emergency room visits, treating with an orthopedic surgeon for fractures or broken bones, costs of medications you were prescribed and any costs related to physical therapy.
Pain and Suffering (Non-economic Damages)
These damages represent the compensation you are awarded for having to go through and recover from an injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence. Pain and suffering can include:
- Physical pain, injury and impairment
- Mental anguish
- Lower enjoyment of life due to physical impairment or loss of a loved one
- Loss of a career or hobby
In a personal injury lawsuit it is easier to sue damages for physical injuries than it is for mental anguish. Juries typically understand and pain and suffering when it is related to an injury in a serious car accident or from a vicious dog bite. Juries are also more sympathetic to injuries suffered children or teenagers where their future enjoyment of life has been permanently affected. In order to bolster your case we will retain medical experts to testify to the physical pain suffered and the future impairment you or your child may be faced with as a result of the accident.
Our attorneys consider all of these factors when negotiating with the insurance company or arguing your case at a trial. Every case is unique and when you are suing for pain and suffering you need an attorney who has successfully argued and settled serious injury cases before. Contact Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., to discuss your case today. Free advice from experienced accident attorneys 737-201-0543.