When Pain Can Be Good: Understanding Pain and Suffering in Car Accident Cases

The phrase "pain and suffering" may sound just awful, but in car accident cases it can actually mean good things in terms of money. Certain kinds of damages in car accident cases are very clear-cut, like vehicle repair costs and medical bills. Other damages are not nearly as obvious, and those damages are collectively referred to as pain and suffering. Read on to find out exactly what those pain and suffering damages are and how much they can be worth in your car accident case.

What Pain and Suffering Is Not: The Expected Damage

At least three kinds of damage are generally expected to occur in car accident injury cases. The following kinds of damage are fairly easy to get proper compensation for because they are so clear and so easy to document. 

  1. Doctor and Other Medical Costs: Almost anyone who is injured in a car accident will have doctor bills or other medical costs related to the injury. Even a fairly minor injury may result in multiple visits to the doctor, the chiropractor, or the physical therapist. A major auto accident injury may even result in prolonged hospital time and long-term physical therapy. All medical costs will count as long as they are clearly related to the injury suffered in the car accident.
  2. Missed Work: Any time that you are unable to work due to the car accident injury can usually be easily compensated by the responsible driver's insurance company. As long as you were scheduled to work and were unable to due to the injuries you incurred in the accident, that missed time will count when figuring compensation.
  3. Vehicle Damage: All vehicle damage that occurred in the accident counts. To make sure that all damage is compensated, it is best to have the vehicle evaluated by a professional body shop as soon as possible following the accident. 

An auto accident lawyer can easily document these damages to make sure you are compensated properly since the damages are expected ones. However, the lawyer's expertise truly comes into play when the pain and suffering damages are evaluated.

What Pain and Suffering Is: The Residual Damage

When damages don't fall into one of the categories discussed above, they will usually be considered as pain and suffering damages. The phrase "pain and suffering" was originally used to describe the compensation that a victim deserves for the physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering caused by the accident. Over time, this type of compensation has gradually come to include a variety of other things that don't fit into any of the expected damage categories. 

If a person suffers any negative effects in their life due to the accident injuries, this can be included in the pain and suffering category. The effect need not be one of actual physical pain, either. For example, a person who was once able to care for their young grandchild full time but who is no longer able to do so because of the injury may seek compensation for that missed time with the child. A person who can no longer enjoy their hobby of playing on a soccer team due to their injury can seek pain and suffering compensation for that loss.

If you suffered in some way because of the injury but it's not documented, talk to your car accident lawyer about it. They can probably include it in your request for pain and suffering damages.

What Pain and Suffering Can Be: The Money

Pain and suffering compensation can end up being quite significant. In fact, it is often more than the expected damage compensation. While it varies according to the case, sometimes the award is calculated by doing a multiple of the expected damages. This multiple ranges between 1.5 and 5  in most cases.

Another way to do pain and suffering calculation is the "per diem" method. This method considers your salary and the total amount of days that you suffered. Usually, you'll be compensated an amount equal to your current daily salary for each day that you suffered. 

If you are dealing with not only a damaged car but also a damaged body after an auto accident, it is important that you don't sell yourself short when it comes to compensation. Talk to a car accident lawyer, like one from Wolter, Beeman & Lynch, about pain and suffering compensation as soon as possible to make sure you get what you deserve!