April 22, 2024

How Much Is Pain and Suffering for a Car Accident?

Craft a conceptual photograph portraying the anguish and turmoil of car accident injury claims, accompanied by a handwritten message."

How much pain and suffering is worth following a car accident victim depends on the nature of your pain and suffering, the severity of your symptoms, and how long those symptoms affect you.

Car accident attorneys use different methods to calculate the cost of pain and suffering. Rely on an attorney to consider all relevant factors and determine your pain and suffering (and other damages) compensation.

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What Is Pain and Suffering?

An injured driver stands solemnly beside their wrecked vehicle, illustrating the importance of driving safety. This scene is depicted in a flat vector concept illustration.

Pain and suffering refers to a class of non-economic damages that can be difficult to quantify. These damages can affect someone physically, psychologically, emotionally, and in other ways. Depression and physical pain are two of many examples of pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering can result from:

  • Being in a car accident, as this can be a traumatic experience
  • The effects of physical injuries (for example, a brain injury can change one’s mood and personality)
  • The consequences of being injured (the realities of being physically confined, for example, can cause substantial pain and suffering)
  • Being disabled
  • Losing a loved one
  • Other circumstances related to a car accident

Unlike the cost of repairing a car or getting medical care, pain and suffering does not have a clear financial price. However, car accident attorneys use legally accepted methods to calculate a client’s pain and suffering.

Examples of Pain and Suffering

Some common examples of pain and suffering among car accident victims include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects a significant percentage of car accident victims
  • Anxiety, which can include a fear of being in motor vehicles but can also have a more generalized effect
  • Depression
  • Acute pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Lost quality of life
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Scarring
  • Amputation injuries and other types of disfigurement
  • Substance misuse issues related to car accidents 

Every car accident victim experiences different types and degrees of pain and suffering. You may be aware of some symptoms you’ve suffered. A mental health professional can help you understand the nature of your pain and suffering and formally diagnose your condition.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Pain and Suffering

Attorneys weigh several considerations when determining the cost of their client’s pain and suffering. The financial value of pain and suffering can depend on:

The Severity of One’s Injuries

Studies suggest that the more serious someone’s physical injury is, the greater their pain and suffering (in a legal sense, at least) because:

  • Severe injuries can take longer to recover from
  • Severe injuries can result in physical and cognitive disability
  • Serious injuries may cause severe pain, which is a form of pain and suffering

Even seemingly minor injuries can cause a great deal of pain and suffering. However, the nature and severity of physical injuries are key considerations when evaluating pain and suffering.

The Specific Types of Pain and Suffering the Individual Experiences

Someone who suffers chronic pain lives a different experience than someone with anxiety (though such conditions are not mutually exclusive).

This isn’t to say that any one type of pain and suffering is more costly than another. This is only to say that the specific details of your pain and suffering are relevant when calculating settlement demands.

The Cause of the Pain and Suffering

The event that causes someone’s pain and suffering can affect the nature and severity of symptoms like anxiety, pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

For car accident victims, relevant factors may include:

  • The speed at which the accident happened
  • The way the vehicles collided
  • Where the victim was seated in the motor vehicle
  • Other details about the accident

Pain and suffering can come from the experience of being in a car accident (not just the effects of injuries). Therefore, a lawyer must consider the details of the accident when evaluating a client’s pain and suffering.

One’s Ability to Rebound from a Traumatic Experience

Not everyone responds in the same way to traumatic events. Some are deeply affected by the event for a long period of time, while others can recover more quickly.

It is not a fault for a car accident to deeply affect you—this is merely a reality that car accident victims must face. Your attorney will consider your unique response to accident-related trauma as they compose your case and fight for compensation.

Whether the Car Accident Victim Is Disabled

Disabling injuries can worsen pain and suffering.

Those with disabling injuries may:

  • Permanently lose physical abilities
  • Permanently lose the ability to do certain activities that bring them joy (like exercising)
  • Be unable to care for themselves (at least not totally)
  • Struggle with identity issues, especially if they were an active person before being disabled
  • Suffer long-term cognitive problems
  • Lose a significant amount of their quality of life

Lawyers evaluate pain and suffering on a case-by-case basis. Lawyers work closely with mental health professionals and doctors to understand, diagnose, and document their clients’ pain and suffering.

Other Damages a Car Accident Victim May Suffer

City road collision captures the aftermath of a car crash.

Pain and suffering is just one of the many damages you may face after a car accident. Attorneys consider the full scope of accident victims’ damages, which may include:

Medical Expenses

You almost certainly face medical bills if you suffered an injury in a car accident. 

Even if you have health insurance or your auto insurance covers medical costs, you should not have to face any financial burden for:

  • Ambulance transport
  • Emergency medical services
  • Imaging
  • Surgeries
  • Doctors appointments, including those with specialists
  • Any other accident-related medical costs

You should also not have to pay for the cost of transportation to and from medical appointments. Your attorney will calculate all accident-related medical expenses and demand fair compensation from liable parties.

Professional Losses

Car accident victims often suffer:

  • Lost income (whether you earn a salary, are paid hourly, or paid on a production-related basis)
  • Lost earning power
  • Lost chances for bonuses
  • Lost opportunities for promotions (or lost progress toward promotions)

The more serious your injuries are, the more (and more serious) professional damages you may experience.

Mental Health Service Costs

You may seek counseling, medications, and other treatments to address accident-related pain and suffering. Your car accident lawyer will work with your mental health service providers to understand your care needs and calculate treatment costs.

Property Expenses

A car accident may require vehicle repairs, replacement of a totaled vehicle, and replacement of clothing, phones, and other items damaged during the collision. Your lawyer will include all property expenses in your claim or lawsuit.

We know that disabling injuries from car accidents cost more than non-disabling injuries.

Those with disabling health conditions may need:

  • Medical equipment like wheelchairs
  • Handrails, ramps, lift devices, a specialized bed, and other resources for their home
  • A wheelchair-accessible vehicle
  • Extensive rehabilitation
  • In-home caregiver services

A disability can also cause severe pain and suffering that lasts throughout the time that you are disabled. Car accident lawyers understand the unique challenges disabilities pose and will consider these factors when calculating your case value.

Wrongful Deaths Can Result from Car Accidents

Title 'Wrongful Death' laid out on a wooden surface in a somber document.

The most tragic outcome of a car accident is a wrongful death. Those who lose loved ones due to fatal accidents can hold at-fault parties accountable by suing.

If this describes you, a lawyer can seek compensation reflecting:

  • Loss of consortium, including but not necessarily limited to a spouse’s companionship
  • Pain and suffering, including but not limited to grief
  • Loss of the decedent’s household contributions (such as handiwork, accounting, and help with chores)
  • Loss of the decedent’s income, work-related benefits, and other forms of financial support
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial or cremation costs
  • Any other harm resulting from the wrongful death

Survivors may also bear the cost of medical care, vehicle repairs, and other accident-related expenses. A car accident attorney will fight for justice on behalf of you and anyone else affected by a fatal car accident.

How to Seek Compensation After Your Car Accident

You may have multiple options for seeking compensation after a car accident, and a lawyer will explain those options to you.

The two methods by which accident victims typically secure settlements and judgments are:

  • Insurance claims
  • Lawsuits, which can result in a settlement or a verdict

Most car accident cases settle. Trials often cost time and money, which helps explain why so many cases settle.

That said, the most effective car accident lawyers go to trial when it suits their client’s needs. This generally happens when liable parties lack insurance or insurance companies do not offer a fair settlement.

Many Reasons to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

The very fact you’re experiencing pain and suffering suggests you may benefit from hiring a car accident lawyer. You will have the time you need to seek treatment, rest, and avoid stress because your attorney is managing your claim or lawsuit.

Other notable reasons to hire a car accident lawyer include:

  • The contingency fee structure most car accident lawyers offer: You can hire a car accident lawyer without paying any out-of-pocket cost. Law firms typically use contingency fees so any client can hire them. This structure requires the law firm to cover accident-related costs, and the lawyer gets their fee only if you get a settlement or judgment.
  • The resources car accident attorneys offer: A lawyer is a resource in themself. However, a lawyer also comes with paralegals, experts, and other resources that may benefit your car accident case directly. Having these resources is an appealing prospect for many accident victims.
  • The priceless value of a lawyer’s real-world experience: Attorneys know how to complete insurance claims and lawsuits. Because of their experience, lawyers also know how to overcome challenges that cases like yours present.

An attorney may also provide a sense of peace when you need it badly. Knowing that an attorney is protecting your best interests and fighting for your financial recovery can reduce your anxiety after the accident.

A Lawyer Will Protect You from Bad-Faith Approaches

In the aftermath of a road traffic accident involving two cars, both parties are now facing the legal consequences. The gavel of the judge will soon decide the outcomes of this unfortunate incident.

Insurance claims can be stressful because insurance companies do not always offer fair compensation to liable parties. Worse, they sometimes actively work to withhold fair compensation from car accident victims.

Having a lawyer will ensure you don’t face the stress of bad-faith insurance tactics, which can include:

  • Denying your insurance claim: You would not be the first car accident victim to face an unfair (and likely unexpected) claim denial. Insurance companies may hope the accident victim will accept a denial without a fight, but you should not.
  • Undervaluing your accident-related damages: Your attorney will calculate the exact cost of your car accident-related damages. Therefore, your legal team will know if the insurance company is undervaluing your damages. With detailed documentation of economic and non-economic damages, your lawyer will present the case for the compensation you deserve.
  • Presenting lowball settlement offers: Some accident victims are financially desperate and vulnerable to lowball settlement offers. Your attorney will inform you that an offer is unfair and advise you not to accept.
  • Refusing to negotiate in good faith: Settlement negotiations require a back-and-forth, but insurance companies may refuse to budge from a lowball settlement offer. Your lawyer will press for a fair settlement and act accordingly if insurers don’t negotiate in good faith.

A capable lawyer will not tolerate these tactics. Instead, a lawyer will gather convincing evidence and documentation, make settlement demands, and stick to those demands. Your lawyer can sue if insurance companies do not negotiate in good faith.

Do Not Wait to Hire a Capable Car Accident Lawyer

Your car accident lawyer will manage every aspect of your case—securing evidence of negligence, documenting your damages, calculating a case value, negotiating a settlement, and going to trial if necessary.

Your attorney will have a filing deadline to abide by if your case requires a lawsuit. Find your personal injury lawyer and hire them as soon as possible. Begin with your free case evaluation today.

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