A serious car crash in Athens often leads to medical bills. Additionally, victims can no longer work and provide for their families. There are other tangible losses as well, such as the loss of a family car.
These tangible losses only tell part of the story. A serious injury also means significant pain and suffering. Sometimes, victims cannot even get out of bed in the morning. Typically, they take a pain pill that lasts for a few hours. Then, the pain returns, usually worse than it was before.
Usually, this cycle continues for many weeks or months after release from the hospital. Furthermore, many victims must endure intensive physical therapy, which magnifies their physical and emotional pain.
Fundamentally, car crash damages are not designed to punish anyone. Instead, they are designed to put plaintiffs in the same position they were in before their injuries. Money cannot erase the pain and suffering that victims feel.
However, Clarke County courts only have the power to award money damages. And, an additional car accident settlement for pain and suffering helps victims get back to normal in both tangible and intangible ways.
What Are Noneconomic Damages?
Most physical injuries have non-physical consequences. Dog bites are a good example. For months or years after the attack, many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. These symptoms include heightened awareness, an unnatural fear of animals, nightmares, and flashbacks. The same symptoms often occur following car crashes and other types of injuries.
Generally, if the victim sustained a serious physical injury, noneconomic damages are appropriate. This money compensates for intangible losses such as:
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Emotional distress
In some cases, the plaintiff need not sustain a physical injury to receive noneconomic damages. For example, if parents witness their children’s injuries, the parents may be eligible for noneconomic damages as bystanders.
How Much Pain and Suffering Should I Ask For?
Pain and suffering is a subjective term. So, the amount is subjective as well. To assign a value to pain and suffering, most Athens personal injury attorneys either use the multiplier method or the per diem method.
Once upon a time, most insurance companies accepted a multiplier of three. So, the victim/plaintiff could ask for three times the amount of economic damages as compensation for pain and suffering. But in recent years, most insurance companies do not see things that way anymore. Instead, they hire tenacious lawyers to fight reasonable pain and suffering awards.
Therefore, the multiplier method has changed. Before assigning a multiplier, most attorneys take a hard look at several factors, including:
- Venue: Filing location matters. Some counties have mostly conservative jurors who are mostly sympathetic to insurance companies. Other counties have mostly progressive jurors who more easily sympathize with victims.
- Amount of Evidence: No matter what kind of jury hears the case; the amount of recovery is almost always tied to the amount of evidence. Legally, victim/plaintiffs need only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). But the more evidence the victim/plaintiff presents, the more money the jury is likely to award.
- Insurance Company Defenses: Assume the defendant has a defense, like last clear chance or sudden emergency, which could eliminate the victim’s compensation altogether. In that case, an attorney might lower the multiplier to settle the case and avoid trial.
After taking these and other factors into account, an attorney usually assigns a multiplier between one and five. For example, if most of the factors weigh in favor of the victim/plaintiffs and the economic damages are $100,000, an attorney might ask for an additional $400,000 for pain and suffering (four times the economic damages).
Other times, the per diem method is better. The attorney assigns a value for each day. Assume the victim earns $200 a day. The victim is in a car crash on January 1, gets out of the hospital on February 1, is discharged from rehab on March 1, and plays with her children for the first time since the wreck on April 1. An attorney might use $200 as the per diem figure and calculate damages as follows:
- January to February at $200 a day
- February to March at $100 a day
- March to April at $50 a day
That total would be $10,500 in pain and suffering damages.
Both of these methods are rather subjective, so the insurance company is almost sure to challenge the calculation.
How Much Do I Get from a Car Accident Settlement?
This amount is subjective as well. We’ve already discussed the factors that go into calculating pain and suffering damages in a car accident case. But to answer this question, there is at least one additional consideration.
In a nutshell, some insurance companies fight until the bitter end. Others are more amenable to an early settlement, especially if liability is rather clear. The insurance company’s attitude sometimes helps to determine the amount of money a person gets from a car accident case.
Time may be an issue as well. Some victim/plaintiffs want their cases to settle early, so they can move on quickly. If that’s the case, the settlement might be a little lower. Others will go the distance. If that’s the case, the settlement may be a little higher.
All these principles are just general rules. Your attorney is in the best position to make accurate determinations.
Contact an Assertive Lawyer
In most cases, damages for pain and suffering may eclipse the economic damages in a negligence case. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Athens, contact Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. Home and hospital visits are available.