When you are involved in any accident, there are times when you can recover costs from another party’s insurance for damages, including pain and suffering. Some injuries can be acute, while others can last a lifetime. Injuries can sometimes be enough to bankrupt you financially due to medical expenses, or to leave you with a permanent disability that affects your ability to work. A car accident could also leave you with a psychological injury, specifically PTSD, that has profound effects on your quality of life. If you experience sustained pain and suffering due to someone else’s negligence, you need to know what your rights are, and exactly how to sue to get your damages covered.
Damages aren’t just for vehicle repair costs or hospital bills that can result from a vehicular accident. There is such a thing as “pain and suffering” compensation. It is an amount of money that you are entitled to because of your injury. The problem is that pain and suffering compensation is highly dependent on the jurisdiction in which the accident happens, as well as the facts involved in the case. The best way to ensure that you get what you need — not just for the resolution of immediate injuries, but for those that can forever affect your quality of life — is to know how pain and suffering damages are classified and calculated.
There are different types of damages
When you sustain damages, they can be classified into two different types: “special damages” and “general damages.”
Special damages are those that are associated with a specific economic hardship, such as loss of wages or time missed at work. They also include damages to your person and your property, including your car repair bills and medical expenses.
General damages are different from special damages. They are damages that are specific to the case, and are typically a result of specific special damages. Things such as pain and suffering, lifespan reduction, mental impairment, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, loss of a loved one, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of your life (like PTSD), and loss of your reputation, may all qualify for general damages to be awarded
How are damages calculated?
Unlike specific damages, which are clear and concise like hospital or repair bills, there are no set monetary prices on things that aren’t concrete, like pain and suffering. Unlike a car repair, there isn’t a magic estimate that you can calculate for lasting anguish. Pain and suffering are very subjective, and therefore, exact costs are much harder to determine. It is sometimes difficult to assess the amount of money that someone should be awarded due to the hardships that they encounter as a result of an accident.
Because no two people are alike, their experience is never exactly the same. That makes general damages very difficult to ascertain or to standardize. When you are in an accident, and you sustain general injuries, there are factors that are used to determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to. These include things like recovery time needed, the location of scarring or disfigurement, the severity of the injury, the amount claimed in specific damages, the potential for chronic illness, the personality of the plaintiff, the legal savvy of the representation, and the cap that each state has in relation to general damage awards.
The multiplier method
The way that lawyers typically calculate general damages is through the use of the “multiplier method”. Lawyers use equations to figure out a cost by using comparisons. They factor in things like how much the hospital bill cost, how much time was spent away from work, and the amount of lost wages..
The problem with using this method is that different attorneys will use different multiplier methods, which leads to industry chaos. There is no standard on whether a damage should be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. It is often left up to the car accident attorney and the court to decide.
Another problem is that it may be potentially misleading to use multipliers. Just because someone is in the hospital and has a high hospital bill, that does not mean that they suffered more.
A hospital bill is not always representative of how much an injury will affect someone’s life. Imagine that someone is in the hospital with a broken finger and it is in a cast. Such an injury is usually not very serious, unless there has been severe nerve or tendon damage and the finger may never work again without extensive surgery. No standard of general practice guides the multiplier method, and in many cases, it’s little more than a guess in the dark.
The biggest challenge that anyone who suffers damages in an accident faces is proving their case. That is why if you are in an accident, it’s important to find an attorney who specializes in various types of auto accidents and damages, to ensure that you receive the settlement that you are entitled to. That way, you won’t end up being denied the money you deserve.