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How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Settlement

Knowing how to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident settlement can help you understand what compensation to expect in your case.

If you are injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, the chances are that you will suffer not only financial damages, but also physical and emotional damages along with pain and suffering, disfigurement and loss of life’s pleasures that can impact your life even more severely than your financial loss.  One court has said that the so-called noneconomic damages represent the iceberg, with the economic damages only the tip of the iceberg.  Determining how to calculate pain and suffering and other non-economic damages in a car accident settlement is much more challenging than calculating economic costs, such as lost wages, lost wage horizon, medical, hospital, and rehabilitative bills, and property damage.

If another party’s negligence or responsibility was involved in the accident, you should be entitled to receive financial compensation that covers pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress and loss of life’s pleasures as Pennsylvania law allows you to recover both economic and non-economic losses from the at-fault party who caused the crash. However, insurance companies have different ways of calculating what pain and suffering in a car accident are worth, and they will try to get you to accept the lowest amount possible.

In order to determine how to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident settlement, you should start by consulting an experienced car crash attorney. Pennsylvania personal injury law is complicated, and your case must be handled correctly and competently or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.  It makes sense to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side to protect your rights and maximize the compensation you receive.

Attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters knows the courts, the insurance companies, the system, and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. Our attorneys have successfully represented people who have been harmed in vehicle crashes throughout Pennsylvania. When you are injured in a car crash, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters today by calling (570) 323-8711 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.

What Can be Considered “Pain and Suffering?”

Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to injuries resulting from an accident that include non-economic losses for physical pain, disfigurement, emotional and mental trauma and pain such as fear, stress, insomnia, anxiety, grief, worry, inconvenience and the loss of consortium (marital relations) and loss of life’s pleasures.

Pain and suffering is commonly awarded when the plaintiff is experiencing:

  • Body aches or pains
  • Depression, mental strain, or other emotional trauma and scarring
  • Potential shortening of life
  • Loss of consortium and impaired family and marital relations
  • Limitations on personal activities and endeavors
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Humiliation and embarrassment.
  • Disinterest in life, work, sex, and other activities

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Settlement

Calculating what is pain and suffering and how much it is worth in any personal injury case, including a car accident case, is not an exact science. In general, the worse the injury and the more painful and long-lasting, the more the compensation will be. However, the amount will ultimately be determined by what attorneys and insurance companies can negotiate and advise their clients to accept, and if the case goes to trial, the jury will make the calculation. Pennsylvania has no cap on noneconomic damages, except in cases involving lawsuits against government entities that do not involve civil rights claims so you can receive as much money as the factfinder awards for pain and suffering.

Understanding how car insurance companies make settlement offers helps you determine whether an offer is reasonable.  Insurance companies sometimes use either a multiplier method or a per diem (daily) method.

1. Multiplier — This method adds up all the more easily calculable economic losses and multiplies those by a number, called a multiplier, between 1.5 and 5. The multiplier used will depend on factors related to your case, including the seriousness of injuries, whether the injuries will be permanent, the impact of your injuries on your day-to-day-life, and whether the other party was clearly at fault for your injury.

2. Per diem — This method assigns a certain amount to every day you are suffering, from the day of the accident until you reach maximum recovery. The daily rate used can vary, and a reasonable rate may often be your actual, daily earnings.

In addition, many car insurance companies use computer programs to determine what the amount of a car accident settlement offer should be for pain and suffering, based on factors such as the type of injury and the type of medical treatment involved.

Factors used to calculate pain and suffering damages in a car accident settlement may include:

  • The type, extent and severity of injuries sustained
  • Whether there is permanent injury, including scarring and disfigurement
  • Whether you can perform basic activities of daily living
  • The impact of your physical injuries on your well-being
  • The emotional trauma suffered, including stress, anguish, grief, pain, and anxiety
  • The length of time it has taken you to recover
  • The medical treatment necessary
  • Your age, health and physical condition prior to the accident.

Of course, the injured victim and the attorney do not have to utilize the insurance company method.  We use our own methodology in which we present a complete and total picture of the loss to the insurance carrier or the defendants, even sometimes utilizing video presentations.  Our car accident attorneys also look at other results from around the state and around the country. There are many factors that go into this.

Pain and Suffering Damages in a Car Accident Case

In Pennsylvania, there are four items that make up a damage award for noneconomic loss. In addition to (1) pain and suffering, other losses considered include:

(2) Embarrassment and humiliation — for example, if the accident caused a sexual dysfunction;

(3) Loss of ability to enjoy the pleasures of life. This includes any effects on family life and marital relations, work life and the ability to earn a living, and the ability to participate in hobbies and social interactions;

(4) Disfigurement, such as facial disfigurement or scarring or loss of a limb; and

(5)  Emotional distress.

Do Car Insurance Companies Have to Pay for Pain and Suffering?

Pennsylvania automobile liability policies generally provide “bodily injury” coverage for pain and suffering as well as for medical bills and lost wages. However, to collect damages, the pain and suffering must be causally related to the injuries. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the better your chance will be of receiving a good settlement.

Evidence of pain and suffering related to a car accident may include:

  • Documentation such as photographs and personal journals that record physical and emotional feelings
  • Documentation from friends and family on how the injury has negatively impacted your life
  • Proof of treatment by a mental health professional
  • Statements by doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and others. Sometimes we hire specific experts to assist in this respect.

There are limitations to the award of pain and suffering damages. If your insurance has a “limited tort” option, you will have to show you suffered a serious injury, according to Pennsylvania case law.

Contact us for Help with Calculating Pain and Suffering

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a car crash, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.  Prompt legal consultation can ensure the collection of relevant facts and the preservation of evidence. Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations of two years after the accident for filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit, and the sooner you file, the easier it is for your attorney to find witnesses and evidence to help your case.  There are limited occasions when the statute of limitations can be extended, but this is a matter that involves a close legal analysis.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to another driver’s negligence. Learn more about Attorney Rieders’ accomplishments and awards. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome.  With our competent staff, we offer strength in experience while providing top-notch personal service.  We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from car crashes and have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims. Depend our are experience to help you understand how to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident settlement.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s driving negligence, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters by calling (570) 323-8711 or to use our contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.