Last year in Texas, over 17,000 people suffered a serious injury in a car crash. Conceivably, they sought medical treatment to relieve their pain and were able to move forward with their lives. Some were lucky enough to experience a complete recovery, while others were left with lingering injuries. Regardless, every accident victim experiences some amount of pain and suffering—both physical and emotional. The trauma of a car crash can leave both visible and invisible scars on a victim, and the law seeks to atone for all types of injuries through compensation. In a personal injury case, a victim can receive compensation for what is described as pain and suffering.
What Constitutes Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case?
Pain and suffering is the legal term that refers to all the injuries that a victim suffers because of an accident. It encompasses both physical pain of injuries and the emotional distress a victim can experience. These two elements include:
- Physical pain – Physical pain is a victim’s actual physical injuries. It includes the amount of pain and discomforts a person experiences during and immediately after the accident, as well as the pain they are likely to continue to feel in the future.
- Emotional suffering – Emotional pain includes the psychological trauma a victim experiences. This can include depression, anxiety, memory loss, emotional disorder, grief, loss of enjoyment, and more.
How Can Pain and Suffering Be Measured After an Accident?
Unlike actual damages, which can be counted through specific bills and receipts, damages related to pain and suffering are much more open to interpretation. It is difficult to put a number on the physical and emotional toll of an accident. As a result, pain and suffering is determined a number of ways, and every case will have a different outcome based on the unique elements of the situation. The two most common methods for calculating pain and suffering are:
- Multiplier method. With this method, juries or insurance companies determine a level of severity of pain and suffering, typically between one and five. Then, they take the amount of the actual damages (medical bills, loss of income, property damages, future lost wages, etc.) and multiply by that number. Generally, the more severe and long-lasting the injury, the higher the multiplier.
- Per diem method. The per diem method assigns each day a dollar amount. They add together every day from the date of the accident until the date the victim has reached his maximum recovery.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to calculating pain and suffering, however. Many insurance companies also use a computer program to determine a settlement amount they will offer. Regardless, there are many factors that are taken into account when it comes to understanding a victim’s experience.
Many Factors Determine the Perceived Level of Severity of Injuries
As stated earlier, typically the more severe the injury and the longer the recovery period (if full recovery can even be achieved), the more compensation will be offered. Some key factors that affect a jury or insurance company’s appreciation for pain and suffering include:
- Type of injury. Some injuries, while still painful and deserving of compensation, are simply less severe and more easily treatable than others. Some injuries may leave a victim with permanent impairments.
- Length of treatment. How long did it take to recover as much as possible from the injuries? Is a full recovery even possible?
- Type of treatment. More invasive medical procedures typically are accompanied by additional pain and suffering. Surgery, difficult rehabilitation, and more can be taken into account.
- Credibility of the victim. If a jury or insurance company thinks the victim is lying or exaggerating, they are less likely to offer more compensation.
- Physician testimony to extent of injury. Does a doctor or other healthcare professional back up the statements made by the victim? Their expertise in their field can offer credibility to claims of injury.
- Consistency in the story of the victim. It is important to be honest and consistent. A changing story hurts a victim’s credibility and calls into question the true level of pain and suffering experienced.
There are many ways that a car accident can adversely affect a victim’s life. From the emotional stress of being involved in an accident to the physical pain and depression that can accompany a serious, lasting wound, these injuries are real. Though a crash occurs in just a moment, the repercussions can last a lifetime, and victims do not have to suffer those consequences alone. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car crash, the experienced accident attorneys at Kennedy Hodges, LLP may be able to help you obtain justice and compensation. Call us today at 855-947-0707 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more.