If you were in a car accident in South Carolina, you may have questions about the potential value of your claim. While calculating damages related to car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages is easy because you have receipts and bills to back them up, assigning a value to your pain and suffering is more difficult. Still, it is important to know how insurance companies calculate pain and suffering damages. This is especially true since this type of compensation often comprises a large portion of your settlement.
If you have questions about the value of your car accident claim, the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin can help. Our car accident attorney is ready to help you collect the compensation you deserve after a car crash. Call our office today at 864-349-5356 to schedule a free case evaluation.
What are pain and suffering damages?
When you suffer car accident injuries, you rack up a full list of financial losses. This includes the cost to repair your vehicle, the cost of medical treatment, and money lost because of missed work. You can collect compensation for these actual losses, but you can also collect money to cover “noneconomic” damages like emotional and psychological losses.
Pain and suffering damages are the most common type of noneconomic damages. This type of damages includes things like:
- Physical pain;
- Stress due to the strain of your situation;
- Emotional trauma due to loss of body function or scarring; and
- Psychological effects of an accident, including anxiety and depression.
South Carolina law does not establish a cap on the amount of noneconomic damages you can seek after a car crash. While the law does not define how to calculate these damages, there are a few accepted methods used by personal injury lawyers and insurance companies. If a car accident case goes to court, the jury often awards an amount that feels appropriate based on the facts of the case as the lawyers present them.
What do I need to do to get compensation for my pain and suffering?
The most important thing you should do to protect your financial recovery after a car accident is to get the medical care you need and continue with your treatment as long as your doctor recommends. If you do not get treatment quickly after a crash, quit going to medical appointments, or do not follow your doctor’s instructions, the insurance company may try to deny your claim for pain and suffering.
You should also do your best to document your injuries, symptoms, and the effect they have on your everyday life. Keep a journal to track your pain levels, your impairments, and the activities you miss because of your injuries. When paired with your medical records, hospital bills, and other documents, this type of diary can help prove your pain and suffering.
What are the most common ways to calculate pain and suffering damages?
While there is no set method to calculate pain and suffering damages, there are a few accepted ways insurance companies use frequently.
In the multiplier method, we take the total cost of your medical treatment and other related expenses and apply a multiplier. This multiplier ranges from one to five. Moderate injuries might call for a multiplier of two or three, while severe injuries might warrant a four or five.
For example, imagine your medical treatment cost you $50,000 after a crash. If we apply a multiplier of two to determine your pain and suffering damages, this comes to $100,000 in noneconomic damages. The total value of your claim is $150,000.
We often employ this method when you suffer extensive injuries, required expensive medical treatment, or require ongoing care for the rest of your life.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method relies on putting a value on your daily suffering and multiplying it by the number of days it took you to recover. In this example, we might decide your pain, stress, and physical limitations, coupled with your lost wages from missing work, are worth $100 a day. If it took you four months to recover, we would multiply $100 by 120 for a total of $12,000. Add this to your medical care cost of $50,000, and you come up with $62,000.
The per diem method often works well when injuries were relatively minor or only required limited treatment but severely limited your activities and prevented you from working. For example, we might use this method if you suffered from painful whiplash. You suffered for months, but the only viable treatment was rest and a small number of sessions with a physical therapist.
Many insurance companies employ other methods to determine how much they believe you deserve after an accident. Often, they utilize computer programs with complex formulas that consider a wide range of factors to calculate how much to offer you in settlement negotiations. It is almost never as much as we believe you deserve.
This is one reason why we calculate a range of pain and suffering damages before we enter into negotiations. This allows us to go to the table with a good idea of the value of your case. We will refuse to accept a settlement offer that does not include a fair amount for your pain and suffering and other damages.
How can a car accident attorney help me determine the value of my claim?
At the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin, we have experience calculating pain and suffering damages in a wide variety of vehicle accidents and with disparate injuries. We can help you put an estimated value on your car accident claim and negotiate a settlement based on this value.
To learn more about how we can help you get the most out of your auto accident liability claim, call our office today at 864-349-5356.