Serious accidents like car accidents impact your life beyond medical bills and lost wages from missing work. Injuries can result in physical pain and emotional distress that can last weeks, months, years, and sometimes forever. How do you value pain and suffering in a personal injury claim? Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys discuss how much you may be able to obtain in pain and suffering damages below.
How Much Can You Get From Pain and Suffering Damages in California?
There are two types of compensatory personal injury damages: economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages, also known as special damages, are quantifiable. They are for specific monetary costs someone might incur due to severe injuries, such as medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages.
Noneconomic damages, or general damages, are more difficult to calculate because they are non-monetary losses. Pain and suffering are an example of noneconomic damages. Pain and suffering are the physical pain and emotional distress an injured person suffers due to their injuries.
What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering in California?
Pain and suffering encompass past and future physical pain, emotional and psychological distress, and disfigurement. Depending on the unique circumstances of your personal injury case, pain and suffering may also include loss of consortium damages.
Physical pain after a car accident can last anywhere from days to years. In some cases, the pain may be permanent, affecting you for the rest of your life. Additionally, depending on your injuries, you may suffer temporary physical limitations, permanent disability, or disfigurement. Examples of physical injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Catastrophic injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Amputation injuries
- Crush injuries
In addition to physical pain, the emotional impact of an injury can be severe and, in some cases, permanent. Examples of emotional distress include, but are not limited to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Psychological trauma
- Loss of quality of life
- Cognitive changes
Loss of Consortium
If your injuries have inflicted emotional distress on your loved ones, your spouse or domestic partner may be able to claim loss of consortium damages. Loss of consortium damages includes, but are not limited to, the loss of:
- Enjoyment of sexual relations
- Ability to have children
We recommend discussing your unique situation with our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers. An attorney from our firm can help you determine how your injuries impact you and how much your pain and suffering may be worth.
How to Prove Your Pain and Suffering Damages
How have your injuries disrupted your daily living activities like sleeping, walking, and driving? Have your injuries left you with physical impairments or disfigurement? What about your mental and emotional health? You have to prove that your injuries have disrupted your life and caused you physical pain and emotional suffering.
Documentation and evidence of how your injuries impact your life can help establish pain and suffering. Examples of evidence to strengthen your personal injury claim include, but are not limited to:
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- Medical records and medical bills. Your medical records offer the insurance company a history of your physical injuries and medical treatment. They include essential information about the type and extent of your injuries, treatment plan, follow-up care, and procedures. Your records may also include statements you told your doctor about symptoms, pain levels, and the effects of your injuries.
- Medical exams and photos of your injuries. Medical exams such as X-rays, MRIs, other diagnostic tests, and pictures of your injuries strengthen your personal injury case. They are objective evidence that proves your injuries.
- Expert testimony. Medical experts can provide their expert opinions through testimony or sworn statements about the severity of your injuries and the pain you likely suffer as a result.
- Witness testimony. Witness testimony from family, friends, colleagues, or peers can help the jury understand how your injuries have disrupted your everyday life.
- Daily journal. Your attorney may ask you to keep a daily journal of how your injuries affect your life. Write about your physical symptoms and pain levels, emotional experiences, and how your injuries impact your daily activities, work, and hobbies.
How an Insurance Adjuster Calculates a Pain and Suffering Settlement
There is no fixed standard method that insurance adjusters use as a pain and suffering calculator in a personal injury case. Two methods that the insurance adjuster may use for pain and suffering settlements are the multiplier method and the per diem method.
However, keep in mind that insurance companies are not required to use either of these methods and may trust a computer algorithm to determine pain and suffering. These algorithms typically rely on the type of injury, treatment, and medical bills to compute pain and suffering. They do not take into account the total circumstances of your situation.
The multiplier method uses your economic damages as a benchmark to determine your pain and suffering damages. The insurance company will figure the total amount of incurred medical damages, such as medical bills, hospital bills, and rehabilitation costs, and your lost wages and loss of future income. Then, the insurance company will multiply that value by a factor between one and five to get an estimated value of your damages.
How does the insurance company choose the multiplier? The insurance company will use a variety of factors to determine the multiplier it uses to determine the value of your claim. Examples may include injury severity, recovery length, evidence of pain and suffering, accident liability, and available insurance coverage.
Per Diem Method
The per diem or daily rate method assigns a specific dollar amount for each day you have suffered since the car accident. The insurance company may use your daily income before the car accident as your daily rate of pain and suffering. Then, the insurance company will multiply that value by the number of days you experience pain and suffering.
For example, suppose you suffered injuries in a car accident. Suppose your daily income before the accident was $300 per day, and you suffered pain for 180 days. In that personal injury case, the insurance company adjuster will value your pain and suffering damages at $54,000.
How Insurance Company Adjusters Respond to Pain and Suffering Claims
It is important to understand that the insurance company is not on your side. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and an insurance company adjuster’s job is to minimize personal injury claims payouts as much as possible. The insurance company may offer you a quick personal injury settlement to try to reduce its payout. It may provide you with a settlement before you have talked to a lawyer or know the extent of your damages.
Additionally, you can generally count on the insurance company to devalue or discredit your personal injury claims and offer a low settlement that is less than what your claim is worth. These tactics are not fair or accurate ways of estimating the value of your personal injury claims.
The insurance company should consider the extent of your injuries, physical pain, and emotional suffering to estimate the value of your personal injury claims. It should recognize your mental and emotional health. Has your everyday life changed as a result of your injuries? If so, you deserve to recover pain and suffering compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve after a car accident.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Determine Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages include physical pain, emotional and psychological distress, and trauma. You have the right to pursue compensation for past and future pain and suffering. Past damages are determined from the car accident date to the time of your settlement. However, accidents often result in long-term or permanent physical and emotional pain. Future damages depend on the severity of your daily suffering and life expectancy.
Have you suffered severe injuries due to another person’s negligence? We encourage you to reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can help you with your claim from start to finish and help you determine the extent of your damages and how much they are worth.
At Steers & Associates, our case results are proof that we have extensive success advocating for our clients and negotiating with an insurance company to obtain maximum compensation. We will take into account every relevant factor to determine a maximum value for the pain and suffering damages you have incurred, including, but not limited to:
- Severity of your injuries
- Impact of your injuries on daily activities
- Consequences of your injuries on your career
- Effects of your injuries on your emotional and psychological well-being
- Medical treatment needed for recovery
- Recovery period
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Attorney About Your Personal Injury Claim
Have you or a loved one suffered severe injuries due to someone else’s negligence in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas? We welcome you to reach out to our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers to discuss your unique situation. Steers & Associates represents clients in various personal injury cases, and we may be able to help you.
We can answer your legal questions during a free and confidential consultation and help you understand your best legal options. Call us at (800) 824-5416 or fill out our online contact form to get started. We provide consultations by phone, video conferencing, and in the office.
Allen Vaysberg practices personal injury law and works tirelessly to defeat the tactics of insurance companies and large corporations who try to deny justice and fair compensation to injured people.