Car accident victims can be forgiven for not grasping the more technical aspects of a case. If you have been hurt in an accident that was not your fault, you may want to take action against the driver that caused you to be hurt. You may readily understand that you are owed money for your medical expenses, time missed from work, your damaged vehicle, etc. Another category of damages can cause some confusion, though, and that is pain and suffering. To find out what this term means and how it's converted to dollars and cents, read below.
The Misery Index
Pain and suffering goes directly to the way the accident is affecting your emotional and mental state. The life-altering effects of an accident don't stop at physical injuries and a wrecked car. Most accident victims suffer in countless ways and they are all connected, in some way, to their mental state. For example, if you were too hurt because of the accident to attend your daughter's wedding, you might be sad, angry, and bitter about it. That is what pain and suffering is — it's the way the physical effects of the accident spill out to affect your moods, energy level, coping skills, and more. If this sounds like it could be a big deal — it is. The payment for pain and suffering can be many times what you are paid for all other forms of damages combined.
How Is Misery Turned Into Dollars and Cents?
Personal injury lawyers and auto insurance companies have models for figuring out what a victim is owed for pain and suffering. There is more than one way to do it but the below calculation is frequently used to determine this payment. In a nutshell, the total of medical treatment (regardless of who paid for it) is multiplied by a factor between 1.5 and 5 or more. For example, if your medical expenses total $100,000 at the time the calculation is performed, that is multiplied by 4 to get $400,000 for pain and suffering. That sum is added to the personal property losses, lost wages, and medical expenses to form a total settlement package. The factor chosen (between 1.5 and 5 or more) is based on the seriousness of the injury. Permanent injuries can exceed a factor of 5 in some cases.
If this all sounds a bit complicated, don't worry. You just need to understand that getting the medical treatment you need will determine your pain and suffering award. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer to get started.