You were injured in a car accident. You are in pain, and your injuries impact your life on a daily basis. Does this mean that you are entitled to financial compensation for “pain and suffering”? If so, how much are you entitled to recover?
While most people seem to be familiar with the term, “pain and suffering,” in our experience few have a clear understanding of what this term actually means. This is completely understandable. Different states use different definitions; and, here in New York, “pain and suffering” is broadly defined to encompass several different forms of non-financial harm. For example, types of harm that qualify as “pain and suffering” in New York include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain
- Post-traumatic stress
- Several other types of psychological and emotional loss
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, there is a good chance that you have experienced some form of pain and suffering. If you are still recovering from your injuries – or if you will never be able to fully recover – then you could experience pain and suffering for years, if not the rest of your life. Everyone responds to traumatic injuries differently, and everyone’s experience with pain and suffering is different. With this in mind, one of the keys to recovering just compensation after an accident is to thoroughly document the non-financial effects of your injuries.
What Constitutes “Just Compensation” for Pain and Suffering?
Since everyone’s experience is different, how do you place a dollar value on pain and suffering? Within the context of a car accident insurance claim, two main methods are used. These are (i) the multiplier method, and (ii) the per diem method.
1. The Multiplier Method
With the multiplier method, pain and suffering damages are calculated by multiplying the claimant’s financial losses by a number that is typically between 1.5 and 5. This number is the “multiplier,” and it is determined based upon factors including the severity of the claimant’s physical injuries, the evidence of the at-fault driver’s liability, the claimant’s prognosis and long-term treatment needs, and the outcomes of prior similar cases.
Once an appropriate multiplier has been determined, the multiplier is applied to the sum total of the claimant’s current and future financial losses. This includes lost income, lost earning capacity, medical bills, prescription costs, and other direct expenses. So, for example, if a claimant’s total financial losses amount to $100,000 and the claimant’s damages for pain and suffering are calculated using a multiplier of 2, then the claimant’s total compensation would be calculated as follows:
$100,000 + (2 * $100,000) = $300,000
2. The Per Diem Method
With the per diem method, pain and suffering damages are calculated by establishing a daily compensation rate and then multiplying this rate by the number of days that the claimant is reasonably expected to experience pain and suffering. There are several possible ways to calculate the daily, or per diem rate, with one example being to simply use the claimant’s daily wages or salary (or some fraction or multiple thereof). So, for example, if a claimant is reasonably expected to experience pain and suffering for three years and the per diem rate is set at $200, then the claimant’s total compensation for pain and suffering would be calculated as follows:
$200 * 365 * 3 = $219,000
As with the multiplier method, this amount would be added to the claimant’s financial damages. So, assuming $100,000 in financial damage as in the prior example, here, the claimant’s total compensation would be $319,000.
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?
As we mentioned above, when seeking financial compensation for pain and suffering, it is important to document your injuries’ effects as thoroughly as possible. The more evidence you have, the stronger the case you will have for establishing a higher multiplier or per diem rate. Several different types of evidence can be used to prove a claim for pain and suffering damages, including:
- Diagnosis and treatment records
- Medical expert reports and testimony
- Prescription information
- A daily log or journal of your injuries’ non-financial effects (i.e. your daily pain level, activities you were unable to perform, and events you were forced to miss)
- Testimony from friends and family members
In order to maximize your financial compensation for pain and suffering following a car accident, it will be important for you to work closely with an attorney who has extensive experienced in negotiating with the insurance companies. Your attorney should be able to guide you through the steps that are necessary to prove your claim, and he or she should be able to negotiate effectively on your behalf. At O’Connor & Partners, PLLC, our attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing car accident victims in New York, and we can use this experience to help you receive the financial compensation you deserve.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today
To find out how much you may be entitled to recover for your pain and suffering, please contact us for a free initial consultation. Call 845-303-8777 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible, or send us your contact information and someone will be in touch with you shortly.