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Pain and Suffering Car Accident Settlement

When it comes to car accident settlements, you may know that there are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. While the economic damages are easy to calculate, there are many questions about pain and suffering. How do you prove car accident pain and suffering? How much can you claim for car accident pain and suffering? What even counts as pain and suffering?

Fortunately, a pain and suffering car accident attorney will have extensive experience in this area and knowledge of how to claim on your behalf. However, you may still need answers to these questions. If this is the case, allow The Injury Firm to help with this extensive guide. If you have a pain and suffering legal case after a car accident or any other type of accident, we have all the information you need!

Table of Contents

 

Part 1 - How to Value Pain and Suffering

As we said in the introduction, assessing the value of lost income or medical bills is simple. While the former you can calculate knowing your salary and the amount of missed work, medical bills have all the pertinent information displayed neatly. Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are more difficult because there isn’t a document that you can refer to nor can you sit with a calculator and work it out.

Subjective Nature of Physical Pain

Over the years, pain and suffering has become one of the most contentious issues in personal injury law. In many cases, you can present the same information to ten juries and get ten different outcomes. Many plaintiffs and attorneys worry about the pain and suffering aspect because you just don’t know how the jury will determine a dollar amount.

When making a personal injury claim, the insurance company will almost certainly either reject the claim or dispute the amount for which you’re claiming. Naturally, insurance companies are for-profit businesses and want to protect their bottom lines. Therefore, car accident pain and suffering settlements can present quite a headache for all parties.

Sadly, many car accident victims accept the lowball offer from insurance companies and this fact means that it’s worth attempting for them in your case. So long as you have legal representation, you have a better chance of receiving the amount that you deserve.

However, the lowball offer is common practice in the world of personal injury claims. Every year, insurance companies rely on two facts:

  • That you haven’t contacted an attorney
  • That you don’t know the value of your claim

Pain and Suffering Caps

To consider the value of pain and suffering in any case, it’s important to consider caps. As a victim of a car accident injury, you need to be aware of the laws that govern your claim before making potential mistakes. For example, some states have caps on pain and suffering in claims and cases while others don’t have caps.

As an example, Maryland has a cap of $875,000 on pain and suffering. In other words, this is the maximum amount that you can claim for pain and suffering in your personal injury car accident case. Regardless of the seriousness of the car accident or the injuries, this is the maximum amount you can claim. On the other hand, Illinois sets no limit for pain and suffering payout and accepts any pain and suffering part of your case.

Interestingly, some states have mixed rules depending on the case in question. Florida falls into this category since it has no cap for general pain and suffering but a $500,000 cap for medical malpractice cases.

One of the most difficult aspects for plaintiffs is that laws are always evolving. Not so long ago, Illinois tried to follow in the footsteps of Florida and introduce caps for medical malpractice cases. For a while, it seemed as though $500,000 would become the new limit for doctors and $1 million for hospitals. After going to the Supreme Court, it was determined that caps were unconstitutional, and no cap would be introduced in the state.

If you reside in a no-cap state, you need to be familiar with the award system and consider the amount that you want to claim for non-economic damages. How do you do this?

Determining a Value for Pain and Suffering

The Multiplier Method

Depending on your injuries, insurance companies often apply a multiplier to the rest of the damages to calculate pain and suffering. For example, let’s say that total damages amount to $100,000 (to keep things simple). If a multiplier of two is applied, you will receive $200,000 for pain and suffering. For more severe injuries, you may be entitled to claim a multiplier of four, five, or even higher.

Over the years, the pattern we tend to find, however, is that insurance companies want to limit multipliers when the damages are already high. Ultimately, each case is unique, and you will still need to prove pain and suffering, so bear this in mind when you come to a decision.

The Per Diem Method

Alternatively, some plaintiffs use the per diem method to calculate pain and suffering. Here, the jury or insurer will calculate an amount appropriate for the pain that you have experienced per day since the accident. Once they arrive at this figure, they can multiply the daily amount by the number of days that you experienced the pain and suffering.

Generally, this is not as common as the multiplier method because it doesn’t always lead to fair compensation, and it doesn’t suit all injury types.

Remember, insurance companies will likely fight your case whatever method you use and whatever the amount you claim for pain and suffering. Before offering a settlement, they will demand to see the relevant documentation. With this in mind, keep all medical bills, police reports, and other documentation that explains your injuries. The more proof you have, the more likely you are to get an acceptable amount for pain and suffering.

Past, Present, and Future Pain

When calculating pain and suffering, it’s also important to remember that it covers more than just the moment of the injury. In serious cases, pain and suffering can cover a whole lifetime. When you claim compensation, you claim damages that occurred at the time of the accident, in the time since the accident, and that will occur in the future. This way, you don’t have to claim again in five, ten, or twenty years.

We will look at proving pain and suffering in a moment, but expert testimony is often key because it can explain how your life has been altered by the car accident (and how it will continue to be altered!). If a victim is severely disfigured or loses a limb, they will be entitled to pain and suffering for the past, present, and future.

Not all injuries have to be so severe for cases to include future pain and suffering, so don’t be afraid to consider this when claiming.

Part 2 - How Do I Prove Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?

car accident with 2 cars

As we’ve discovered, pain and suffering can be very different between cases. Therefore, there’s no universal formula to follow. Instead, you need to think about your own emotional well-being and lifestyle since the accident. How have they changed because of the accident? How does your life differ from the one you would have had without the accident?

When considering car accident pain and suffering, one of the most important factors to remember is that you need to prove it. Whether you ask for a multiplier of two or a specific amount per diem, you will only get this amount if you sufficiently convince the jury or judge of the pain and suffering.

Create a List of Reasons

To start, a pain and suffering car accident attorney will work with you to create a list of reasons to justify your demand. This list is important because the attorney will use it when negotiating with insurance companies and it can also be used in court for a judge or jury.

When building a list of reasons, you need to ensure that they contribute to your argument. With this in mind, they need to be fact-based and logical. As an example, you can support emotional distress claims with medical records. Consequently, your pain and suffering claim starts in the medical office. When speaking to medical professionals, don’t try to be brave or downplay the effects of the accident in any way. Instead, open up and explain how the accident has impacted your everyday life.

Just some examples of the sort of thing that your medical records could explain include:

  • Your inability to sleep or how nightmares are affecting your quality of sleep.
  • Your inability to drive and reliance on others to ferry your children to and from school, clubs, and more.
  • Your inability to lift heavy objects and care for children or elderly members of the family.
  • Depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and other mental struggles since the accident.

Take Pictures

photographer taking picture of car damages after car accidentTo convince a judge and jury, your lawyer will encourage you to take pictures both at the accident scene and in the weeks after. For instance, this could be lying in a hospital bed, in the car after the accident, lying in bed at home, and in similar situations. This is just one of the reasons why you should contact a pain and suffering car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident; the advice they provide from the very first day could be the difference between achieving a good and bad compensation amount.

Gather Witness Statements

As well as pictures, another way to prove pain and suffering is through witness statements. Rather than witnesses of the accident, you’ll ask witnesses of your pain and suffering to explain how it has been watching you suffer after the accident. This could be:

  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Family
  • Colleagues

In a statement, they can explain how your life has been affected in terms of housework, childcare, pet care, transportation, and other areas of life. If you can’t lift your child or even cook dinner, this is likely to have affected you in many ways and witness statements can bring this story to life. In fact, loved ones often see it more than yourself because they see the difference between pre- and post-accident ‘you’.

Keep a Journal

Next, don’t be afraid to keep a journal and document how the accident has affected your life. In particular, note how your happiness and quality of life have changed. As well as documenting the facts, be descriptive and explain everything. For example, do you need help bathing? Do you worry about never making a full recovery? Do you live in pain at every moment of the day? Have you missed your child’s play at school? How do these things make you feel? Do you feel anxious or depressed?

If you’re to get the right settlement, you need to explain exactly how the accident has affected your life. The better you can paint a picture with words, the more likely the judge or jury is to sympathize with your situation. Let’s not forget, there are no second chances when it comes to compensation. If the first attempt goes wrong, you can’t adjust and go for it a second time. Instead, you need to give everything you’ve got the first time and don’t leave anything to chance.

When writing your journal, think about what you’ve lost and how your life has suffered. Even small details can contribute to your case and help the jury to understand your life since the car accident. You might even convince the adjuster to offer a fair settlement, and this will save the hassle of a court case.

Contact an Attorney

Finally, you cannot underestimate the value of an attorney after a car accident. Having been through the process many times before, they know exactly what works and what doesn’t. The earlier you reach out for help, the more time they have to build a strong case and lay the right foundations for success. Once again, this is another example of not leaving things to chance. The injury Firm will protect your legal rights and provide all the advice you need to obtain compensation.

Part 3 - How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in Car Accidents?

In this next section, we want to explore further the idea of valuing claims and calculating pain and suffering damages after a car accident. As well as digging more into the ideas of the multiplier method and per diem method, we’ll look at some examples.

The Insurance Company vs The Plaintiff

When it comes to pain and suffering payout, you won’t be surprised to hear that the car insurance company and the plaintiff generally come to very different valuations of pain and suffering. Sometimes, victims panic when they see the valuation of the insurance company and feel compelled to accept the offer. In reality, this isn’t a fair evaluation of pain and suffering. Instead, it’s normally the insurance company trying to pay you as little as possible. The less they pay you for pain and suffering, the more money they have in the Christmas party fund at the end of the year.

If you’re to overcome the stilted valuations of the insurance company, make sure that you have strong legal representation. They will know how to deal with insurance companies and build a case that leads to a more favorable result.

Average Settlements for Pain and Suffering

As we’ve seen, pain and suffering differ from one case to the next. Therefore, you won’t be surprised to hear that the average settlement for pain and suffering varies too. While some people get a few thousand dollars, others hold out for $500,000 and perhaps even more (of course, this is limited in states that have pain and suffering caps!).

As a general rule, pain and suffering is higher in more serious car accident cases. As an example, those who experience a TBI (traumatic brain injury) or permanent disability will get more than somebody who breaks a bone. While broken bones are repaired and many people can return to a normal life, permanent disabilities never go away.

This being said, we noted earlier how insurance companies are often reluctant to pay high pain and suffering fees when the damages are already high in a case. With no set rules for pain and suffering, it depends on the facts of the case and the negotiation skills of the attorney.

Examples of Settlements

For illustrative purposes, let’s describe a couple of examples so that you get an idea of how it might work; you may see some similarities between the two examples below and your own situation. As mentioned, the dollar amount and incidents are entirely fictional.

James - Multiplier Method

Unfortunately, James was involved in a car accident while driving to work. While waiting at a red light, another vehicle hit the back of James’s car, and this led to broken ribs and stomach problems. After an x-ray, medical professionals discover that one of the broken ribs punctured a lung.

After successful surgery, James was forced to stay in hospital for one week and take many months away from work. As a result, he sued the guilty party for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In total, his medical bills amounted to $50,000 and he lost $20,000 because he couldn’t work.

By working with an attorney, James was in good hands and the professionals gathered evidence and negotiated with the insurance company. Eventually, it was decided that the multiplier method would be used to determine the pain and suffering amount. The total economic damages, as seen above, came to $70,000 and a two-times multiplier was applied. Therefore, pain and suffering amounted to $140,000.

Beatrice - Per Diem Method

When driving to see a friend, Beatrice was also hit by another vehicle. As well as cuts to her face and body, Beatrice had a broken leg and therefore was forced into a cast for several weeks. During this time, medical bills rose, and she was unable to work. Not only this, but stitches used to repair other injuries also left scarring.

For many weeks, Beatrice was unable to drive her children to school or perform other typical duties. What’s more, she had to attend physical therapy to help with her walking. Like James, she claimed against the responsible party for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

This time, the per diem method was used to calculate pain and suffering. In total, Beatrice experienced just under eight months of pain and suffering; around 240 days. With the daily rate suggested at $300, Beatrice claimed $72,000 for pain and suffering.

Case-by-Case Basis

As you’ve probably learned by now, there is no universal system for calculating pain and suffering after a car accident. Instead, it all depends on the injuries, recovery, and accident itself. However, you should now have a better idea of how the two pain and suffering calculation methods work. Additionally, you’ve seen them in action in the fictional cases of James and Beatrice.

If you want to calculate potential pain and suffering for your case, contact a pain and suffering car accident lawyer today. The Injury Firm has extensive experience in this area and would love to assist.

Part 4 - What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering?

Throughout this guide, we’ve thrown the term ‘pain and suffering’ around and it has been used in the legal world for many years. However, what does the term cover? What qualifies as pain and suffering? In this next section, we’re going to explain the three main areas of pain and suffering.

Physical Pain and Suffering

Perhaps the most obvious form of pain and suffering comes in the physical sense, and this refers to any injuries that you experienced due to a car accident. While some last several days, others are more serious and never disappear. If you experience chronic pain, this is something that could stick around permanently. Not only this, but you could also need physical therapy for the rest of your life to stay on top of the problem.

Here are just some of the examples of physical pain and suffering:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Broken/fractured bones
  • Back pain and discomfort
  • Paralysis
  • Dislocation
  • Pulled muscles
  • Neck pain
  • Internal organ damage

As you can see, some conditions are more serious than others. Either way, they all cause pain in their own right and lead to potential physical pain and suffering in a personal injury claim.

Emotional Pain and Suffering

Next, we have psychological and emotional distress caused by a car accident. While we can see physical damages (whether by eye or through an x-ray), emotional pain and suffering is invisible yet deeply traumatic for many car accident victims. Once again, this is something that can disappear after a few weeks or stick around for many years.

Sadly, some people experience flashbacks and struggle to get back into a vehicle after a serious car accident. Others have nightmares and have sleeping difficulties - this causes problems at work and even with personal relationships.

Examples of emotional pain and suffering include:

  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Psychological trauma
  • Worry
  • Cognitive changes
  • Frustration
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Reduction in quality of life

Experiencing one of these is problematic; the issue for many car accident victims is that they experience multiple together. For this reason, it’s important to claim emotional pain and suffering in a settlement.

Loss of Consortium

Unfortunately, the statistics suggest that some people die in car accidents. If this is the case, the family of the victim can make a wrongful death claim/case. This way, the guilty party is still held accountable, and the family receives compensation for the losses caused by the accident. Naturally, losing a loved one is always difficult; losing one to a negligent or reckless driver is particularly tough to accept.

As well as recuperating lost wages and medical bills, families can also claim loss of consortium. What does this mean? Essentially, it describes the loss of support, relationship, and companionship because of the accident. For example, somebody could lose their wife/husband, mother, child, sibling, etc. The mental anguish and grief are compensated through loss of consortium such as:

  • Parental guidance
  • Care
  • Companionship
  • Household services
  • Love/affection
  • Spousal intimacy

We should note that the examples in all three lists in this section are just that…examples. They aren’t exhaustive lists and don’t describe every situation in which pain and suffering compensation is possible. Your pain and suffering legal case may be made up of several of these examples as well as things that we haven’t mentioned. So long as you have the right legal support, you don’t have to worry about missing something.

Secondary Problems

After a car accident, victims can experience primary and secondary problems. If the guilty party is responsible for the accident, a court may hold them responsible for both.

For instance, Beatrice’s broken leg from the previous section is an example of a primary problem; it occurred at the impact of the accident. However, due to the constant pain and depression, she turns to alcohol or drugs. This is an example of a secondary problem and one that was ultimately caused by the accident; in other words, it would not have happened if Beatrice didn’t experience the accident in the first place.

Other examples of secondary problems include:

  • Side-effects of a sedentary lifestyle
  • Cardiovascular illness
  • Isolation and withdrawal from society
  • Suicidal thoughts (or suicide)
  • Insomnia
  • Self-harm

If you’re experiencing any of these secondary problems, we highly recommend talking to a professional. Although it might not seem like it right now, your situation will improve. Compensation will help to stabilize your financial health and you can speak to others who have been in your position for help.

In terms of your legal case, be honest in all medical appointments because this is the best way to tell your story and explain how the accident has affected your life. Also, follow medical advice to prevent secondary problems and stay as healthy as possible both physically and mentally.

Part 5 - Does Surgery Lead to a Bigger Pain and Suffering Payout from a Car Accident?

team of doctors operatinig on car accident victim

When trying to calculate potential compensation, many victims will wonder about surgery and how this affects the situation. Does surgery lead to a larger pain and suffering payout? Let’s investigate the data and answer this question.

Surgery Suggests Serious Damage

In short, most attorneys will say that their biggest injury settlements had victims who had undergone some form of surgery. In fact, one attorney recently admitted that 15 of their 16 largest settlements were for claimants who had surgery. However, it’s not the surgery itself that instantly leads to a higher settlement…it’s normally what the surgery means.

As you know, compensation is all about recuperating the costs associated with a car accident. Therefore, compensation is larger in cases where the costs associated with the accident are also higher. If you’ve had surgery, the settlement is likely to be larger because the surgery will have caused higher medical bills. Not only this, but the fact that you’ve had surgery suggests that you’ve also required time away from work. This means that you’ve lost wages, another important component of economic damage.

With this, both lost wages and medical bills are probably higher compared to somebody who didn’t need surgery. Consequently, you will enjoy a larger settlement to recuperate these costs.

Although non-economic damages like pain and suffering are slightly different, the same thinking applies. If you’ve had surgery, your physical and emotional pain and suffering are likely to be higher compared to somebody that hasn’t had surgery. Surgery suggests:

  • A more serious injury
  • A longer recovery
  • A longer time away from driving
  • An inability to play with children, perform household tasks, etc.
  • More emotional side-effects

When the pain and suffering is higher, so too is the settlement. To come full circle, then, it’s generally true that surgery leads to a bigger pain and suffering payout from a car accident. However, not just because it exists in itself but because of what surgery generally means in terms of the pain and suffering experienced by the victim.

Comparative Negligence

Of course, there are factors where your compensation is reduced even in car accident cases where surgery is present. In states where comparative negligence is applied, victims can be responsible for a certain percentage of an accident. As an example, it could be found that you were 15% responsible for the car accident. If this is the case, you will only receive 85% of the settlement while also being 15% responsible for the injuries and damages of the other driver.

Let’s say that your lost wages and medical bills amounted to $30,000 and a two-times multiplier was applied for pain and suffering ($60,000). After investigation, you’re found to be 10% responsible for the accident. In this case, you will only receive $81,000 ($90,000 - $9,000). What’s more, you will also be responsible for 10% of the other party’s damages.

While surgery increased the overall settlement, you won’t necessarily see all this money in cases where comparative negligence is applied.

Surgery and the Insurance Company

When claimants first contact the car insurance company, the latter will ask about the injuries of the victim. If surgery is mentioned, the insurer will normally pass the case on to a professional and experienced adjuster. Why? Because they know that the potential compensation for cases that contain surgery is higher. Research suggests that the reserves set aside for cases involving surgery are higher.

You probably don’t need experience in the personal injury niche to know that adjusters are deployed to limit compensation wherever possible. Despite this, they have more leeway when it comes to cases with surgery. Normally, they have the authority to pay victims more compared to victims who haven’t required surgery. Surgery instantly means serious injuries, and this often leads to a larger settlement.

Health Comes First

After a car accident, your mindset should be focused on getting better. Although it might sound obvious, you shouldn’t ever seek surgery just because you want a higher settlement. Focus on recovering from your injuries first, with whatever treatment medical professionals recommend, and then compensation can follow later. You shouldn’t ever make decisions just because you want a larger settlement from a car accident personal injury case.

Surgery has a huge impact on your life not just now but for many years to come; many operations have side effects that include problems later in life. Furthermore, surgery comes with risks and should only be performed when medically necessary.

Likewise, you shouldn’t put off required surgery just because you’re worried about finances. Once again, your health comes first. If doctors and surgeons say that an operation is the only way to improve your health, you need to consider this recommendation. As a pain and suffering car accident lawyer, The Injury Firm offers a free consultation and then operates on a contingency basis. This means that we take our fee from your winnings - put your health first and always follow the advice of trained medical professionals. In the meantime, we’ll worry about the legal aspect of your case.

Part 6 - Do Insurance Companies Pay More If an Ambulance Transports You to the Hospital After a Car Accident?

car accident victim transported to hospital by ambulance

For the most part, the answer to this question is yes…if you’re comparing to cases where the victim is not transported to the hospital by an ambulance. Before we answer this question in more detail, it’s interesting to look at the accident form on Uber’s website for those involved in a car accident when using the service.

On the Help section of the Uber website, you’ll find an accident form where you need to fill in your details and pass the information on to the company. Firstly, you’ll provide general information such as your name, address, and various other details. Once you get to a specific section of the form, you’ll then need to describe your loss and answer a few questions. This includes whether there were any injuries and whether a police report was filed. However, we’re interested in the question between these two.

‘Was anyone transported by ambulance?’

Why does Uber ask this right at the beginning of the process? Why does the company want to know if somebody was transported by ambulance? Because they want to ensure that the right insurance adjuster receives the case. In cases involving surgery or ambulance transportation, insurance companies will normally assign high-level adjusters.

Higher Settlements for Ambulance Transportation

To return to the question of this section, insurance companies typically do pay more if an ambulance transports you to the hospital after a car accident. Just as we saw with the surgery example, this isn’t because insurance companies see that you’ve traveled in an ambulance and feel a sudden urge to compensate victims. Instead, it’s normally because an ambulance journey suggests serious injury and higher medical expenses.

Not only do insurance companies assign high-level adjusters, but they also set aside a higher settlement reserve. In layman’s terms, there’s a larger pot of money set aside to pay your settlement. If you take an ambulance to the hospital, this suggests that you have more serious injuries compared to people who don’t need an ambulance. What’s more, the ambulance itself is an expense on medical bills and suggests that you will claim more compensation compared to those who avoided an ambulance journey.

Occasions Where Ambulance Transportation Doesn’t Help

All this being said, don’t make the mistake of thinking that an ambulance ride automatically means a life-changing pain and suffering legal case. For a personal injury case to be successful, you need to have suffered injuries. Without injuries, you may struggle to get any form of compensation because a judge may deem that you didn’t experience damages worthy of compensation. Additionally, a lack of follow-up treatment will also go against your case.

Similarly, an ambulance journey won’t mean much if you were 100% responsible for the car accident. If you caused the accident, the victim would likely claim against you rather than the other way around. This is where it gets a little difficult because of the comparative negligence laws we discussed in a previous section.

If you live in a comparative negligence state, the compensation you receive depends on who was responsible for the accident. If you were 30% responsible for the accident, you will only receive 70% of all damages (both economic and non-economic).

If your ambulance journey was a result of serious injuries and you required lots of follow-up care, this is then likely to help your claim and increase the settlement an insurance company is willing to offer. If you weren’t wholly responsible for the accident, you could also receive compensation.

Ambulance Costs

Why is this such an important issue with personal injury cases in the United States? Well, the cost of ambulance rides can be expensive. Although it tends to vary across the country, a single ambulance journey can range from $15 (for those with health insurance) to $1,200 (for those without health insurance). If you weren’t responsible for the car accident, you shouldn’t be responsible for this expense.

As well as the cost of the journey itself, victims can also be charged depending on the equipment used during transportation. For example, ambulance workers could need to use all sorts of medical supplies. Depending on the injuries, this could include:

  • Needles
  • Sterile gloves
  • Saline
  • IV supplies
  • Catheters
  • Oxygen masks

There’s also a double-headed argument with ambulance rides because it’s an economic damage - you simply need to look at your medical bill to see how much the ambulance ride costs. But some will say that there are also non-economic damages attached to the experience. If injuries are serious enough to need ambulance transportation, this could suggest higher non-economic damages.

Part 7 - Do Insurance Companies Pay More for Broken Bones than Soft Tissues Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident?

xray right shoulder broken after car accident

Over the years, your pain and suffering car accident lawyer will have seen all types of injuries. Injuries after an auto accident can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Bruising
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Neck damage
  • Concussion
  • Paralysis
  • Soft tissue damage

While some people are lucky enough to heal within a couple of weeks, others still feel the effects of the accident many years later. Generally, broken bones will cause more problems than soft tissue injuries, for example. Soft tissue injuries - such as strains, sprains, and bruises - heal quickly and don’t normally leave long-lasting effects. On the other hand, broken bones can require surgery, casts, physical therapy, and many months of treatment.

With this in mind, the general rule is that insurance companies pay more for broken bones compared to soft tissue injuries. There are always outliers, but this is generally accepted.

Damages Associated with Broken Bones

Although this won’t surprise you at this point, the reason broken bones generate larger compensation settlements than soft tissue injuries is that they lead to more damages. In an economic sense, they require more treatment, and this means higher medical bills. Experts will need to reposition the bones, install a cast, and provide treatment for many weeks and months after the injury.

Over time, medical bills build up and the victim may be unable to work. For example, physical jobs become impossible when a car accident victim breaks their leg; delivery drivers cannot perform in their role with a broken foot. While unable to work, the victim doesn’t earn any income. Without compensation, this can threaten the financial stability of a family for many years.

As we’ve discovered throughout this guide, it’s not just about economic damages and car accident pain and suffering is extensive with broken bones. Let’s say that your whole leg is in a cast - you can’t enjoy days out with family, you could start to pull back from society, and you can experience all sorts of fear, frustration, and depression.

With soft tissue injuries, the recovery time is normally shorter and the damages are not quite so severe. Following on from this, the compensation or settlement is also smaller. With a lengthier recovery period and more consequences for the victim, settlements are higher for broken bones.

Exceptions to the Rule

We’ve covered the general rule, so let’s explain the exception because soft tissue injuries are sometimes worse than broken bones. In some cases, they are more painful and require a longer recovery time. For example, this can include the following injuries:

  • Contusions - Where tissues and fibers underneath a bruise are crushed. This can lead to discoloration, pain, and swelling.
  • Bursitis - The bursa is a sac that acts as a cushion between the muscles and bones. When this is inflamed from sudden trauma (like a car accident), it can cause serious health problems.
  • Tenosynovitis - This time, the inflammation is in the tendon sheath (where the muscle joins the bone).
  • Whiplash - One of the biggest problems with car accidents is that the victims aren’t normally expecting them. Rather than having time to brace, their head is thrown in different directions, and this creates stress on the neck. Whiplash describes potential tendon or muscle damage in the neck.
  • Tendonitis - As the name suggests, this is tendon inflammation. Tendons are important because they connect bone to muscle and a car accident can exacerbate tendon issues.

In cases of serious soft tissue injuries, victims are left unable to perform simple daily tasks (this can include bathing and cooking). With doctors unable to reach the soft tissue, recovery time is prolonged, and some people are unable to work during this time.

Every Case is Unique

When seeking a car accident pain and suffering settlement, don’t worry about which is worse between different types of injuries. We’ve seen different types of soft tissue injuries, and broken bones can also occur in different ways. This includes:

  • Oblique fracture (diagonal break)
  • Transverse fracture (straight-line break)
  • Spiral fracture (swirl-like break)
  • Comminuted fracture (splintered into several fragments)
  • Compression fracture (collapse of vertebrae)
  • Compound fracture (bone pierces the skin)
  • Segmental fracture (multiple fracture lines)
  • Stress fracture (small crack)

While some broken bones will generate more damages than soft tissue injuries, serious soft tissue injuries have the potential to cause more damages than broken bones. Whatever your injury, contact a pain and suffering accident attorney and they will seek the appropriate settlement for your case. The professionals at The Injury Firm will consider your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more to reach a reasonable settlement.

Often, pain and suffering far exceeds out-of-pocket expenses for victims so legal representation for this subjective element is critical.

Part 8 - If You Can’t Do Activities Due to Injuries from a Car Accident, Does It Increase the Pain and Suffering Settlement?

Next, we want to explore the idea of not being able to do activities due to injuries from a car accident. How does this affect the pain and suffering legal case? In short, the answer is that the inability to enjoy activities that you would have enjoyed had it not been for the accident will increase the pain and suffering settlement. Let’s review two examples:

Stuart

Stuart is just like James in that he has been unlucky and involved in an auto accident. As a result of a collision, Stuart has damaged his foot. He sees a doctor, has an x-ray, and finds out that the foot is broken. As a keen marathon runner, Stuart is devastated because it means he can no longer take part in a couple of events over the next few months. Not only does he have to withdraw from these events, but it also means that he can’t run with friends and continue with his hobby until the foot fully heals.

In this case, Stuart’s quality of life has reduced because he is prevented from partaking in his favorite hobby. In all likelihood, the fact that he can’t do this activity will help raise the value of his case.

Mary

While passing through a crossing, a car decided to jump a red light and struck Mary’s vehicle. She experienced serious soft tissue injuries, and this is a big problem because she enjoys nothing more than getting up on a Sunday morning and attending a table tennis club. As well as this, she also loved gardening, cycling, and other activities. For a while, she will have to pull back from all these different activities. With Mary having to miss out on lots of different activities, this will likely impact her claim and increase the value of the settlement.

Reduced Quality of Life and Loss of Enjoyment

Stuart and Mary were unlucky, and you may have recognized your own circumstances in this example. Whether you enjoy fishing, gardening, riding a bike, or playing tennis with grandchildren, you could receive a higher settlement if a car accident prevents you from enjoying these activities. In the eyes of the law, you will have lost some enjoyment in life and your quality of life will have decreased as a direct result of the accident.

However, you need to have led an active life before the accident if you’re to increase your settlement. You can’t just claim to have been an Olympic athlete or to have partaken in lots of activities just to increase the value of your pain and suffering settlement. If you didn’t do activities before the accident, it won’t affect the enjoyment of your life so much and this will generate no impact on your claim.

At this point, it brings into question the definition of ‘loss of enjoyment’ and ‘quality of life’ - what do these terms mean? With the enjoyment of life component, it’s sometimes as simple as not being able to lead a normal life. If your injuries after an accident force you to change your lifestyle, you can argue that you’re not able to lead a normal life.

Age and Enjoyment of Life

There’s another important aspect to consider: age. Does your age affect what you can and can’t claim compensation for when it comes to non-economic damages? Yes, in some regards. As an example, adjusters will likely claim that older individuals are less impacted when it comes to activities and enjoyment of life than somebody much younger.

In theory, adjusters will say that the life of the younger individual is affected much more than the older person. In response, the pain and suffering car accident lawyer will say that the older person has worked their whole life to enjoy retirement. Now, a portion of their retirement has been taken away from them because of the accident and subsequent injuries.

In the past, attorneys have also looked at life expectancy to support their cases. If somebody is 71 and their parents lived to their late-90s, the attorney can argue that the victim could still have had many years of activities.

Loss of Activities Supporting a Claim

As we’ve seen in other sections, the most important detail is to prove what you have lost and how your life has changed. If you previously loved playing golf, a broken foot isn’t going to allow you to play for quite a while. Although not being able to enjoy activities may not play as large a role as other losses, it still contributes to settlements in many cases.

As always, what you can and can’t include in your case also depends on your location. While some states allow loss of the capacity to enjoy life, others are more restrictive in this regard.

Part 9 - Can You Get Money for Pain and Suffering If You Are Also at Fault in a Car Accident?

Compared to sections gone by, this isn’t one that we can answer quickly because negligence laws differ based on where you are in the United States. Earlier, we mentioned comparative negligence, and this is the basis for the answer to this question.

Comparative vs Contributory Negligence

If you live in a contributory negligence state, you cannot get money if you’re even slightly responsible for an accident. Although it might seem harsh, the law in these states says that anyone with even the smallest amount of responsibility in an accident cannot claim compensation. Even if you’re deemed to be 1% responsible, this is enough to stop your claim.

Over the years, many leading figures in the country have criticized contributory negligence and called the law antiquated. As a result, most states have transitioned to a newer model. This being said, the four states below still use contributory negligence laws:

  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Virginia

On the other hand, comparative negligence says that people involved in a car accident can claim compensation even if they are partly to blame for an accident. Yet, the amount they receive is reduced based on their perceived responsibility. Comparative negligence can be broken down into two types:

Pure Comparative Negligence - If this is in place in your state, you can claim compensation regardless of your responsibility. Even if you’re 75% responsible, you will still receive 25% of all damages.

Modified Comparative Negligence - Alternatively, this law says that you can only seek compensation so long as your responsibility doesn’t exceed a certain cap; this cap varies between states but tends to be either 50% or 51%. Depending on which the state chooses, they stop you from claiming if you’re equally responsible or more responsible than the other driver respectively.

Of the 46 states that use comparative negligence rather than contributory negligence, 13 use pure comparative negligence while 33 use modified comparative negligence. Meanwhile, 23 of the 33 set the threshold at 51% while the other ten have a 50% threshold. As you can see, it’s an interesting split between the different states. As a victim of a car accident, you only need to know what form of negligence laws your state uses. Once you learn this information, you’ll instantly know the likelihood of getting money (and whether any will be taken away!).

Example of Comparative Negligence

For the sake of simplicity, this example with Emma is going to use pure comparative negligence. By seeing how it works, you should be able to apply the information to your own situation. Even if you’re partly to blame for the accident, you could still receive money depending on your location.

Emma was reversing from her driveway just about to embark on her normal journey to work - while Emma is normally a responsible driver, she puts her seatbelt on while reversing from her driveway as a habit. Therefore, the seatbelt isn’t fully applied during the first few seconds of the journey. During these few seconds, a negligent driver came round the corner and hit the rear of Emma’s car. While Emma had paused because she saw the car coming and wanted to let them by before continuing, the other driver was not only speeding but also looking down at a mobile device. They mounted the pavement and struck Emma’s car; she was not protruding into the road.

It’s easy to see that the accident was caused by the other driver, yet the fact that Emma hadn’t yet affixed her seatbelt properly exacerbated the damages. She didn’t cause the accident, but she contributed to her injuries by choosing to start her journey without her seatbelt fully applied.

Luckily, Emma lives in a state of pure comparative negligence. Although she is 10% responsible for the damages, she will still receive 90% of the full case value. To answer the question posed in this section, she will still get money even though she was also at fault in the car accident.

Of course, it gets more difficult once the negligence laws change. If the accident was slightly different, she could be considered 60% responsible; in modified comparative negligence states, she would not get money. Likewise, she wouldn’t be able to make a claim in a contributory negligence state.

Consider Your Accident

Can you get money for pain and suffering if you’re also at fault in a car accident? It depends on your location, the percentage of the accident for which you are responsible, and other circumstances surrounding the case. If you want to prevent any mistakes, contact a car accident pain and suffering attorney and they will protect your interests.

When communicating with insurance companies, this means that you don’t admit blame and people don’t try to pin blame on you unfairly. Even if you‘re at fault, don’t make the mistake of saying so to the police or others involved in the accident. If you communicate your fault in the wrong way, it can be misconstrued. Suddenly, the other driver is saying that you’re wholly responsible for the accident just because of one comment at the scene.

Part 10 - Should You Handle a Pain and Suffering Claim from a Car Accident Without a Lawyer?

If you type this question into Google (maybe that’s how you found this extensive guide!), you will see many people saying that you can claim for pain and suffering without a lawyer. This is true - attorneys don’t make this a secret. In 2022, it’s possible to handle car accident personal injury claims and settlements yourself. When searching online, you’ll even see people talking about how they earned a great settlement without the help of professionals. The problem is that these success stories are rare, and most people who go through the process alone end up disappointed.

If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, the best way to ensure a positive result is to work with a pain and suffering car accident attorney. Nothing can ever guarantee a settlement, but there are many reasons to work with an attorney (we’ll explore some of them in this section). Above all else, attorneys have experience and know how the process works. Contact The Injury Firm today for a professional ear.

Common Problems for Individuals Without Representation

Firstly, you’ll encounter issues nearly immediately when insurance adjusters and other parties ring your phone off the hook. Did you know that anything you say at this stage can impact your claim? In the past, millions of victims have failed at the first hurdle by admitting blame or saying something that can be construed as such.

Secondly, insurance companies will see that you don’t have legal representation and take advantage of this. Since you don’t understand the process, you don’t know what is and isn’t normal. Soon enough, they are tripping you up with legal jargon and you have no chance with your car accident pain and suffering case. With legal representation, insurance companies will act with caution (especially when you partner with a company that has the reputation of The Injury Firm!).

Thirdly, you don’t know how to calculate non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. The last thing you want after the trauma of a car accident is to accept something less than you deserve. This is something that people who forgo legal representation risk every time…don’t fall into the same trap.

Reasons to Choose a Pain and Suffering Car Accident Attorney

Why should you choose an attorney for a pain and suffering claim?

Experience - When you have a problem with your car, you take it to the garage; the same rule applies to pain and suffering settlements. Why go through the process alone when there are lawyers who understand the process inside out? Experience will prevent simple mistakes and ensure that you follow the correct procedures for compensation.

Resources - One of the biggest problems that individuals face when claiming alone is a lack of resources. With medical bills mounting and no end in sight, victims often accept a lower offer. An attorney will have the resources you need to see the case through; this means waiting for a reasonable settlement or taking the case to court. The process starts with a free consultation, and you won’t pay anything until the end.

Relieve Pressure - After suffering an injury, do you really want to get involved with the intricacies of personal injury law? Do you want to be spending your days reading articles, consulting books, and desperately trying to stay on top of your case? Given what we know about the success rate of people who forgo legal representation, this effort is often wasted. Choose a lawyer and you can concentrate on the recovery process while the lawyer does everything else.

Knowledge - As well as experience, attorneys also have knowledge that should push your case towards the result it deserves. What does this mean? They know how to deal with insurance companies, how to build strong cases, how to negotiate settlements, and more.

Financial Future - Finally, the expert negotiating skills of attorneys also mean that you can secure the financial future for yourself and your loved ones. Without expert help, you might accept a low offer or end up with nothing. Suddenly, you need to find money to pay all those medical bills (while wages during the same period are low). Attorneys fight for your future and ensure that you aren’t financially destabilized by a car accident.

As a bonus tip, the fact that attorneys do everything on your behalf also means that you can put all your effort into recovery. While attorneys protect your legal rights, the only thing you need to concentrate on is getting better. Less likely to make mistakes, your attorney will build a strong case, contact eyewitnesses, negotiate a settlement, and more.

With bundles of experience in the field, another benefit is that your case will be valued accurately. You can determine the true value of your injuries both in terms of economic and non-economic damages. When going it alone, experience suggests that you will either undervalue your claim or accept a lower settlement than you deserve.

Part 11 - Does More Medical Treatment Get You More Money for Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?

doctor examining swollen wrist after cast removed car accident victimNext, we want to address the question of medical treatment. Is it true that those who receive more medical treatment are entitled to more money for pain and suffering after a car accident? When answering this, it’s important not to fall into the trap of confusing economic and non-economic damages.

Naturally, more medical treatment will lead to more money for economic damages. Why? Because all this extra treatment has a cost, and this cost is reflected in medical bills. The more treatment you have, the higher your medical bills are after an accident. Furthermore, more medical treatment also suggests that you will need to take time away from work. Now, medical bills are high and you’re also unable to work. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how car accident victims get into financial trouble.

On the other hand, how does it work with non-economic damages like pain and suffering? Well, it’s also generally true that the full value of your case increases as you require more treatment. As we’ve discovered throughout this guide, compensation is normally higher when injuries get more serious. Those with life-changing injuries and disabilities from a car accident can expect more compensation compared to somebody with a broken finger who will quickly recover and get back to normality.

Extent of Medical Treatment

As a general rule, more medical treatment does mean more compensation for pain and suffering. But it’s important to note that there are different types of medical treatment. Immediately after the accident, you may need ambulance transportation and emergency care; this is the case in serious accidents with extreme injuries. Depending on the extent of the injuries, you may need surgery and other emergency treatment.

As you recover, you will spend time in the hospital receiving medication and other treatments. Once you are home, the recovery process isn’t necessarily over. As an example, let’s consider a broken leg. You could be in a cast for many weeks, and then you’ll require physical therapy for a while once the cast is off. A physiotherapist will work with you to strengthen the leg and get you back into a position to enjoy life freely.

Therefore, your settlement isn’t just increased by the medical treatment you receive but also the treatment you’re likely to need in the future. With the broken leg example, the fact that you’re going to need therapy, medication, and other treatment for many months will play a role in what you receive for pain and suffering. By definition, the extra treatment means that your pain and suffering has extended beyond a simpler injury.

As we’ve said before, future treatment is important to consider when calculating pain and suffering. When bringing a personal injury claim to the insurance company, you won’t have a second chance to claim just because your expenses continue into the future. Instead, you will need to claim for future costs right now. Don’t worry, an attorney will help with your pain and suffering legal case.

When considering questions like this one, it’s important to remember the initial definition of pain and suffering. Although it has become a legal term, it still describes the emotions and experiences that a victim goes through after an accident. If you receive more medical treatment, you will have experienced more pain in addition to more suffering. Consequently, the money you receive for this component is going to be higher.

Types of Therapy

Often, everybody focuses on the physical treatment that somebody receives after an accident. For example, this includes setting fractured bones, casts, medication, and surgery. Yet, therapy forms an important part of the recovery process for many people. There are three main types of therapy that you might require:

Physical Therapy - Normally performed by a physiotherapist, physical therapy is designed to restore strength, improve range of motion, boost flexibility, and restore function after an injury. Therapy is especially important in cases of damage to the soft tissue, spinal cord, neck, back, and TBIs.

Occupational Therapy - Rather than just improving function, occupational therapy helps victims accommodate their injuries and resume a normal life. For example, it could be regaining a skill that the victim needs to work or meet daily needs. Consequently, it’s common in serious cases where victims need to accommodate a completely new lifestyle. This can happen after partial paralysis, amputation, and TBIs.

Psychological Therapy - Naturally, injuries after a car accident can impact one’s mental health just as much as our physical health. For instance, this can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Stress
  • Fear

As well as struggling to build the confidence to get back into a vehicle (even as a passenger), victims can struggle to cope with their injuries. Mental health professionals are trained to help people involved in serious accidents to alleviate the symptoms that often develop.

Part 12 - Do I Have to Pay Taxes on a Pain and Suffering Settlement from a Car Accident?

graphic irs and moneyIn a car accident pain and suffering case, another common question that we receive with regards to a pain and suffering payout is whether there are tax implications. Unfortunately, there is no universal answer because the truth is that it depends. Just as we saw with the different types of negligence, the rules can change depending on the case.

Over the years, there has been so much confusion around this topic that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has written guidance for victims. For the most part, the IRS explains that no victim must pay tax when they receive a pain and suffering settlement for a personal injury. The exact wording is as follows:

“If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.”

It’s important to highlight a particular part of this statement - you mustn’t have taken an itemized deduction in prior years. With this, the IRS wants to ensure that the injury or sickness was not a pre-existing one. When you receive a settlement for an injury, the injury must have been caused by the accident itself and not something for which you have claimed or deducted before.

However, we said that this question doesn’t have a simple answer. While most cases fall under this guidance from the IRS, it’s not true for all cases. Once again, it’s wise to speak to your pain and suffering car accident lawyer because they will advise you accordingly.

In some cases, you may need to include a personal injury settlement as income when filing taxes. For example, this is true when you agree to a confidential settlement for damages such as pain and suffering. If this is present, you may need to pay tax on the section of the settlement that paid for confidentiality even if you don’t pay taxes on the full amount.

For this reason, you will see most attorneys steering clear of confidential settlements. When trying to convince victims to take early settlements, insurance companies will explain that this is the only way that they do business or that confidential settlements are standard. Do not listen. While there may be a limited number of insurance companies where this is true, the vast majority do not include confidentiality in settlements. Once again, this shows the importance of experience and knowledge in a pain and suffering legal case.

Confidential Settlements

As the name suggests, a confidential settlement is designed to prevent the victim of an accident from sharing information. Rather than being an active clause in car accidents, it’s more common in workplace injury cases and accidents of this nature. When an employee is injured at work, a company might want a confidential settlement so that the event doesn’t become common knowledge.

When an agreement of this nature is in place, no party involved in the settlement can disclose certain information to others. For example, this includes details of the dispute, the figure in the agreement, and more. During the negotiation phase, employers want to make clear that the confidential aspect of the agreement applies to all parties. If anybody breaks the confidentiality agreement, this is considered a breach of contract.

What happens if somebody breaches the confidentiality agreement? It depends on the terms laid out in the contract. But it could be that the guilty party is responsible for attorney fees, damages, and other expenses.

No Tax for Standard Compensation

In this guide, we’re placing a heavy emphasis on settlements for pain and suffering after a car accident. This being said, it’s important to note that the same tax rules apply regardless of whether you receive compensation through a settlement or a judgment. Uncle Sam views the two situations identically, so you don’t need to worry about differences between the two. Whether you get money from a judge or jury at a trial or through an out-of-court settlement, this compensation is seen as the same.

When you receive compensation, this amount of money is supposed to compensate for your pain and suffering. Since the accident wasn’t your fault, it’s somewhat of an equalizer to get you back to some form of normality (your position before the accident). It doesn’t make sense for the IRS to then take a chunk of this money, and that’s why it doesn’t.

Even if you receive money to repair property, such as a vehicle, you won’t have to pay tax on this amount. If you’re confused about any aspect of your compensation or the tax laws, have conversations with your pain and suffering car accident lawyer as well as a qualified tax professional. Rather than applying general rules, they can provide tailored advice.

Part 13 - How Long Does It Take to Get a Pain and Suffering Settlement from a Car Accident?

As a pain and suffering car accident attorney, this is a question that we receive regularly. When medical bills are piling on the doormat and you’re unable to work, it’s a high-pressure situation. In fact, only when victims are in this position do they see why even a lowball offer from the insurance company looks attractive.

The first thing to say is that the time it takes to get a pain and suffering settlement depends on a few different factors. Unsurprisingly, we can’t just give a specific amount of time because each case is different. In this section, we want to explore three of the biggest factors.

Injuries

Firstly, your injuries will determine the length of the process. In most cases, those who have the most extensive injuries will see their case settled faster than those whose injuries aren’t quite so bad. With serious injuries, your medical bills will exceed most others and you’re also unlikely to be able to work. This scenario is time-sensitive, and you should receive a settlement quickly.

Insurance Limits

Secondly, you also need to consider the available insurance limits. Historically, quicker payouts occur with smaller bodily injury liability limits. If this is the case, you should receive pain and suffering payouts relatively quickly.

Attorney

Thirdly, we have an important role to play as your car accident pain and suffering lawyer. While representing you, one of the most important steps is sending various bills, medical records, and documentation off to the insurance company. If your attorney falters at this step, it will slow down the whole process. Thankfully, The Injury Firm has lots of experience in this area and understands the process from start to finish. We know how to expedite the process so that you aren’t left waiting any longer than necessary.

If we were to compare two cases, the faster settlement would come when any of the following are present:

  • Extensive injuries
  • Small bodily injury liability limits
  • Competent attorney

Circumstances of the Case are Key

Throughout this section so far, we’ve assumed that a settlement is inevitable; you don’t need us to tell you that this isn’t always the case. At no point during the process is a settlement guaranteed, and your attorney will explain this to you. Even if the case seems clear-cut, your legal team will still need to work hard to prove damages (especially non-economic damages).

The more contentious the circumstances surrounding the case, the longer the process is likely to last. Why? Because the insurance company will be reluctant to offer a settlement that you’re likely to accept. While they might offer a settlement, it’s likely to be a lowball offer at first. Car accident cases have numerous potential outcomes, such as:

  • Immediate fair settlement (rare)
  • Fair settlement once you get an experienced attorney on board
  • Fair settlement after extensive negotiations between your attorney and the insurance company
  • No fair offer and case is taken to court in front of a judge or jury

As you can imagine, the length of time that you’ll need to wait to receive money depends on which of the outcomes you get for your case. If the insurance company sees the facts of the case and knows that it cannot avoid paying compensation, you may be lucky enough to get a fair offer immediately. Similarly, the company may see that you’re represented by a respected, successful attorney and increase its offer. The more likely outcome is that the insurance company will offer an amount lower than you deserve and your attorney will need to negotiate a settlement. During this process, your attorney will remain in conversation with you.

If the insurance company still doesn’t make a fair offer, reputable attorneys have the resources required to go further. In the case of personal injury claims, this means taking all our evidence in front of a judge or jury. Here, they will decide what amount you receive. Although no settlement is guaranteed, the fact that an attorney is willing to use its resources to reach this stage suggests that they are confident.

In terms of a timeline, the first scenario is the quickest. From here, the second is slower, the third is even slower, and the fourth is the slowest.

Contact an Attorney Today

Although we haven’t been able to provide exact answers in this section, we can tell you one thing: you must reach out to a pain and suffering car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. There are a few reasons why this is sensible:

  • They can get to work compiling documents (such as police reports and medical bills)
  • They can contact eyewitnesses while the event is still fresh in their minds
  • They can protect your legal rights and prevent common mistakes when communicating with insurance companies
  • They can extradite the process and reach the desired outcome quickly
  • They offer a free consultation and normally work on a contingency basis (you don’t need to pay anything upfront!).

Part 14 - Does a Hospital Stay Increase the Pain and Suffering Settlement from a Car Accident?

Initially, you might think that a trip to the hospital is a simple fact in cases of pain and suffering. Don’t be so quick to move on to other factors because hospital stays aren’t always equal. Here are two examples:

Julia

Julia was involved in a small car accident and has symptoms of whiplash and a couple of other minor problems. After a short ambulance ride, she sees one triage nurse who explains that soft tissue damage is the most likely cause of her pain. The nurse cannot see any other injuries, but Julia will need physiotherapy, and medication, and won’t be able to work while the healing process starts.

In this example, Julia was in the hospital for only a few hours because most of her treatment will take place with a therapist and through rest. Over time, the soft tissue injuries will heal, and Julia will return to work. Despite the serious injuries, her time in the hospital was limited.

Mark

On the other hand, Mark was involved in a car wreck on the other side of town and took a trip in an ambulance (we looked at how ambulance rides affect claims in an earlier section!). While Julia had soft tissue injuries, doctors can see part of a bone penetrating Mark’s leg. Therefore, he will need more extensive treatment and a few days in the hospital.

As you can see, these two examples are very different. While Julia only needs a few hours in the hospital, Mark is forced to stay numerous days. Also, we aren’t saying that all soft tissue injuries are simple and will have patients leaving the hospital in just a few hours (we kept the examples basic for the sake of simplicity!).

Will Mark or Julia receive more in their respective settlements? Well, this is actually a trick question because Julia can still end up receiving more depending on the other factors of the case. Yet, for the hospital section of the claim, Mark’s pain and suffering is likely to be higher because the experience was more extensive - he required surgery and several days in the hospital.

Of course, compare this to Robert who manages to avoid hospital entirely and both Mark and Julia are likely to have cases with higher pain and suffering. As a result, it’s all about varying degrees when it comes to the experiences of car accident victims.

Hospital Stays

After a car accident, it’s always wise to be cautious when using online calculators. In case you haven’t realized it just yet, there are so many factors that can determine how much compensation you receive after an accident. In this guide alone, we’ve explored the following themes:

  • Broken bones and soft tissue injuries
  • Ambulance rides
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgery
  • Medical treatment

With all this in mind, it’s really not just a cliche when a pain and suffering car accident attorney says that every case is different. All these factors can change from one case to another. For example, Person A could have broken bones that require an ambulance ride to the hospital, scans, medication, and an eight-day stay in the hospital. During this stay, they have surgery and will need weeks of physical therapy.

On the other hand, Person B experiences spinal cord damage that requires longer in hospital with more treatment and medication. Elsewhere, Person C experiences smaller injuries so doesn’t need to stay in the hospital for more than just a few hours. What’s more, they didn’t need surgery since most of the required medical treatment will come through therapy and other techniques later.

Sadly, The Injury Firm has also had to deal with many wrongful death cases. In this situation, the victim passed away after a car accident. As well as potential medical bills, expenses could include funeral costs. Meanwhile, non-economic damages extend to wrongful death, loss of companionship, and more.

Does a hospital stay increase the pain and suffering settlement from a car accident? This is normally the case compared to a case without a hospital stay. As we’ve seen throughout this guide, however, the circumstances of every case are unique. Therefore, this is just one of many factors that play a role in a pain and suffering settlement. Just because you stayed in the hospital for five days doesn’t mean that you will receive a smaller settlement than somebody who stayed in the hospital for six days; other factors could lead to you getting more.

All in all, contact a car accident pain and suffering attorney for tailored support and assistance. To start, your attorney will gather the facts of the case before then determining what your case is worth by considering both economic and non-economic damages. During this stage, the time you spend in the hospital will contribute to what they suggest for pain and suffering.

Part 15 - What is a Reasonable Settlement for Pain and Suffering?

After an accident, you’re right to ask about reasonable settlements for pain and suffering. As we’ve already discovered, regardless of what reasonable means in your case, the route to the best possible result is through a pain and suffering car accident lawyer. Your lawyer will guide you through the process, protect your legal rights, implement the best methods, and generate the strongest possible result.

A reasonable settlement covers all the damages that you have experienced as a direct result of your accident; an unreasonable settlement is one that still leaves you short. When an accident isn’t your fault, compensation is designed to provide you with some funds to cover damages that have arisen from the accident.

Naturally, this is a little more difficult with pain and suffering. Compared to medical bills and lost wages, we can’t just look at a document and instantly know how much you need. Despite this, the goal is still the same. In your pain and suffering legal case, we will aim for a settlement that covers your emotional pain and suffering.

If you’ve broken your leg, this has probably had huge ramifications for your life. As well as being unable to work, you’re unable to live your life normally. You can’t go on walks with your family, drive your car, partake in your normal hobbies (which might include running, tennis, and more), or socialize as easily. What’s more, you can’t even climb into the shower without some degree of difficulty. In this case, your pain and suffering is high and a reasonable settlement will keep all this information in mind.

Standard Pain and Suffering Settlement

Excuse our use of the word ‘standard’ because we’ve seen that pain and suffering settlements are anything but standard, but we need to understand how claims work if we’re to get to an answer for a reasonable settlement. While the average dollar amount of pain and suffering claims differ, the damages included in such claims are very similar.

As we’ve seen, the first thing to consider is that your state may have a cap on the amount that you can receive for pain and suffering. If you can’t find anything online, your attorney should explain this to you. If you live in a state with a cap, you cannot claim for an amount above this cap.

In a standard pain and suffering settlement, your legal team will sit down with you to discuss how the accident has affected your life. The better idea they have of this information, the more accurately they can value your claim. The initial valuation is critical because it affects how the negotiations go with the insurance company.

The following factors impact a pain and suffering claim:

  • State laws
  • Accident type
  • Injury type
  • Injury seriousness/severity
  • Method of calculation (per diem or multiplier)
  • Impact of injury on your life, relationships, job, and other areas
  • Required medical treatment
  • Recovery period for injuries

With all these different aspects playing a role, it’s not surprising that we can’t put a single dollar figure on claims without knowing the facts; this is why so many attorneys are reluctant to give dollar amounts. If we were to say that claims are worth ‘x’ amount, we could misguide many car accident victims, set the bar of expectations too high for some, and convince others to not claim at all.

As noted in a previous section, one of the best ways to get a reasonable settlement is to prove pain and suffering and build an irrefutable case. When working alone, you may struggle to obtain enough proof to convince an insurance company to offer a reasonable settlement. Due to their experience and resources, a pain and suffering car accident attorney is more likely to succeed in this journey.

As well as working with you and discussing losses, your attorney will communicate with the insurance company, request documentation that will support your claim, and get in touch with potential witnesses. In terms of documentation, this includes images of the scene, medical bills, statements from medical professionals, and even personal blogs/journals. Why? Because they document your day-to-day life after the accident. Often, this explains your struggles more effectively than any other evidence. On the other hand, family members and friends could talk about your job, relationships, mood, and everyday life since the accident to support your claim.

Car accident pain and suffering changes a life, so allow the right professional to fight your corner and return your life to some form of normality. While we might not be able to get it back to the way it was before, we can get close with compensation for pain and suffering. At the very least, the accident will not harm your family financially.

The Injury Firm

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At this stage, we come to the end of our extensive guide; you have answers to all the biggest questions that you’re likely to have with regards to a pain and suffering legal case and a pain and suffering payout. Above all else, you need the assistance of professionals if you’re to stand the best chance of a reasonable settlement after an accident.

With one search online, you will find people talking about how they got a fair settlement without an attorney. This is great for them, but it’s not an accurate reflection of what normally happens when people choose to forgo legal support. Unfortunately, insurance companies employ very experienced adjusters and know how to reduce settlements even when the victim deserves money.

The Injury Firm will protect your legal rights and work towards a reasonable settlement for your accident. With a reasonable settlement, you can put the accident behind you and attempt to move on with your life. Without a reasonable settlement, you will always hold on to some resentment and it’s more difficult to move on because you don’t feel as though justice was served correctly.

Feel free to get in touch today for a free consultation - we’ll talk through your case and discuss the potential for compensation after a serious car accident!

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The Injury Firm

1608 East Commercial Blvd. 
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334

Phone (954) 951-0000
Fax: (954) 951-1000

 

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The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.  This website may contain information about The Injury Firm's past results, testimonials about the firm or a lawyer within the firm, and statements regarding the quality of The Injury Firm's work product. This information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. Please be advised that: 1) the facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters for which results and testimonials have been provided: 2) Not all results of cases handled by the firm or its lawyers are provided and not all clients have given testimonials; and 3) The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the firm or by its lawyers or of the experience of all clients or others within the firm or its lawyers. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

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