How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Car Accident Case?
Personal injury claims in South Carolina don’t just deal with economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages. Car accident victims often seek compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. However, if you aren’t familiar with South Carolina personal injury law, you might be wondering how you can put a price on pain and suffering. That’s not a straightforward process, and it’s one that is best left to an experienced personal injury lawyer.
When a person is injured in a car accident, there are certain expenses that are straightforward because they come with an exact cost or a cost that is easily calculable. These are known as economic damages. Some of the most common examples of economic damages in car accident cases are hospital bills, prescription and over-the-counter medications, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and medical equipment costs.
However, anyone who has ever been seriously injured in a car accident will tell you that the consequences can span far beyond economic damages. For example, a car accident victim may experience physical and mental pain and suffering. This can include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and scarring, permanent impairment, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), just to name a few.
How is pain and suffering calculated in a car accident case?
Putting a dollar amount on a person’s pain and suffering isn’t an easy process, and there’s no exact formula for doing so. As the South Carolina Supreme Court puts it, “pain and suffering have no market price.”
However, a qualified South Carolina personal injury attorney will use their knowledge and experience to come up with a number that is fair and reasonable. They will first negotiate with the other side’s insurance company but will take the case to court if an agreement can’t be reached.
An attorney will generally factor in the following information when determining a dollar amount for your pain and suffering:
- Your age
- Your health condition before the accident
- The severity of your physical injuries
- Permanency of your injuries
- Your medical needs
- Types of medicines prescribed
- Duration of your recovery
- Day-to-day limitations faced as a result of the accident
- The impact on your ability to spend meaningful time with family and friends
- Any other limiting effects on your life
There is no cap on how much money a car accident victim can receive for pain and suffering in South Carolina.
The insurance company’s formula
Although the value of a person’s pain and suffering is subjective, insurance companies typically abide by their own formula when determining how much money a car accident victim should receive. There are two types of formulas they use – the multiplier method and the per diem method.
Multiplier Method – A person’s total financial losses are added up and multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. The more severe your injuries are, the greater the multiplier number.
For example, if you ended up with $8,000 in medical bills and $2,000 in lost wages, the insurance company might add those figures together ($10,000) and then multiply that number by 3. In that case, they would offer you $30,000 in pain and suffering. However, it would be up to you and your attorney to determine whether or not that’s a fair amount.
Per Diem Method – A dollar amount is awarded for each day of pain and suffering the injured party endures. The daily rate is often based on the car accident victim’s daily earnings.
For example, if you make $200 a day at your job and you are in pain for 180 days, the insurance company might offer you a settlement of $36,000 (200 x 180 = 36,000).
Some insurance companies might run both the multiplier calculation and the per diem calculation and average those two numbers together. In our two examples listed above, that would mean splitting the difference between $30,000 and $36,000 for a final total of $33,000.
South Carolina personal injury lawyers are aware of how insurance companies calculate pain and suffering and will negotiate with them if they believe their settlement offer is too low. There are times, for instance, when an insurance company might use the multiplier method, choosing a multiplier of 2. However, your attorney might believe the multiplier should be 4 due to the severity of your injuries.
If the insurance company refuses to acknowledge the full extent of your pain and suffering and compensate you accordingly, your lawyer will go head-to-head with them in the courtroom, where a jury will decide whether you should be compensated and for how much.
Proving pain and suffering
Personal injury victims are required to prove their pain and suffering, which can be difficult. That’s why hiring an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer can make all the difference.
A personal injury attorney will gather and submit the following evidence to support your case:
- Medical reports detailing your injuries
- Medical testimony
- Expert testimony
- Testimony from friends and family
- Prescription drug records for medicines used to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc.
- Receipts for over-the-counter medications
- Photos of disfigurement, scarring, and injuries that impact your quality of life
- Receipts for counseling services, therapy, and other mental health treatments
- Professional notes which provide details about your mental state
You are also advised to keep a journal detailing all of the hardships you are facing following your car accident. Be sure to keep these notes up-to-date and record your thoughts as they come – it’s best to talk about these things while they’re fresh in your mind, so you don’t forget any important details.
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today
It’s important to remember that no matter how strong of a case you have, the other side’s insurance company will do their best to avoid paying out a fair sum. They hire teams of lawyers who are employed to do exactly that, and they take their jobs very seriously.
Insurance companies will often claim victims aren’t suffering as much as they say, or that a pre-existing condition played a role in their suffering, or that they’re suffering because they refused to follow their doctor’s orders. That’s why it’s in your best interest to hire a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in a car accident in South Carolina.
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has been representing car accident victims in South Carolina for more than 40 years, and we have a strong track record of fighting hard for our clients. We know the ins and outs of personal injury law, and our decades of experience mean that we know what to expect from the other side’s insurance company.
We are proud to say that we treat our clients like family, and we fight hard for them to receive the compensation they’re rightfully owed. We know that pain and suffering is very real after a serious car accident, and that’s why we’ve dedicated our professional lives to helping accident victims. We understand that no amount of money can make up for your pain and suffering, but we also believe in fighting for what’s right. You should not be forced to quietly suffer because of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has seven offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter. We offer free case evaluations and would be happy to speak with you about your car accident case.
Give us a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®