If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be suffering from many physical injuries. While you likely know you can recover compensation for the financial losses your injury caused, you might not be aware that you are also eligible to recover noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering in many cases.
It is not easy to put a value on a person’s pain and suffering, but the attorneys at Coffey Trial Law will use numerous factors to determine pain and suffering from an auto accident. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call: 954-541-3194.
What are pain and suffering damages?
There are generally two categories of damages in car accident cases. Economic, or otherwise known as actual damages, cover the tangible costs and expenses incurred in an accident (e.g., medical bills, lost wages). We identify these amounts by using medical bills, pay stubs, and other documentation to estimate current and future expenses.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, refer to the intangible costs that do not have a set monetary value. The most common of these are pain and suffering damages, awarded for the mental and physical pain the accident caused you.
How do I calculate pain and suffering?
While insurance companies might include pain and suffering in a settlement offer, it is likely much lower than you deserve. To ensure you are receiving what you deserve, you should have an attorney calculate the true value of your pain and suffering. When calculating pain and suffering, insurers and attorneys generally use one of the following two methods:
To use the multiplier method, attorneys and insurers add up the accident victim’s economic injuries and multiply that by a certain number. The multiplier is typically a number between one and five and relies on several factors including:
- Severity of the injury
- Whether the other party was obviously at-fault for the accident
- Diagnosis and treatment for the injury
- Length of recovery period
- Whether the injury resulted in or will result in long-term or permanent disability
Generally, the more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier will be.
For example, someone who broke her collarbone in an accident and had to stay out of work for a month might have a multiplier of 1.5. Someone who suffered a spinal cord injury might receive a multiplier of 4.
Per Diem Method
Under the per diem method, a victim receives a certain amount of money per day until the day the victim reaches the point of maximum recovery. Determining the daily rate can be tricky, but generally, calculators will use the amount of actual daily earnings. However, this will need adjustment in certain cases.
If your claim settles, your attorney and the other party will negotiate a fair amount based on the evidence available. If the case goes to trial, the jury may decide how much to give you for pain and suffering. Florida Statute § 768.043 allows the judge to adjust the amount of pain and suffering awarded if he finds the jury’s calculations too high or low. Our team will work to persuade the jury/judge to award you the pain and suffering compensation you deserve.
How can I prove my pain and suffering?
The more evidence you can provide related to your injuries during settlement negotiations and at trial, the better your chances are of recovering an amount of damages you are happy with. The following evidence is most beneficial to your case:
- Documentation: Medical records detailing injuries, prescriptions, treatments, procedures, and therapy. Your doctor may also provide her written opinion of your condition. If you have received treatment for mental health issues (e.g., anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder) stemming from the accident, ensure you have proof of treatment. A note from your therapist could also go a long way when determining the value of your pain and suffering.
- Testimony from loved ones: Documentation from family and friends that describes the everyday difficulties you experience because of your injuries
- Photographs: Photographs to show the seriousness of the injuries
- Personal documentation and testimony: You can talk about your injuries and discuss how they have impacted you. One of the best ways to do this is by keeping a pain journal.
- Expert testimony and research to show that the victim’s claim is consistent with others in similar circumstances
In addition to medical evidence and testimony, the court will need to find that you are a trustworthy and honest person who would not exaggerate or lie about your condition.
When can I recover for pain and suffering?
Florida is a no-fault state meaning that all car owners must first turn to their own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP will cover up to $10,000 in medical expenses and lost wages resulting from an accident regardless of fault. However, no-fault benefits do not cover noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
To recover noneconomic damages or economic damages beyond the PIP limit, you will have to file a lawsuit against the negligent parties in your accident. While you can file an injury claim or lawsuit against the other driver once you have exhausted your PIP coverage, you will not be eligible for pain and suffering damages unless you can prove your injuries meet the serious injury threshold per Florida Statute § 627.737. A “serious injury” includes one or more of the following:
- Significant/permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Significant/permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent injury (with a reasonable degree of medical certainty)
If you suffered an injury that includes one of the above criteria, you are eligible to recover pain and suffering damages.
Call a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney for help.
If you have experienced serious injury in a car accident, you deserve compensation for your pain and suffering. The car accident attorneys at Coffey Trial Law can help you get through this challenging time. We will determine the value of your damages and how much you can reasonably expect for pain and suffering.
Once we have a number in mind, we will do everything in our power to make sure you get that amount. During settlement agreements, we will work to convince the insurance adjuster that your pain is real and that you can prove it.
If we go to court, we will present convincing evidence and testimony to prove the severity of your injuries and that the negligence of the other driver is what caused your injuries. Living with pain after an accident is not easy. Do not suffer alone.
Call 954-541-3194 for assistance with your accident claim.