How to Calculate Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident in Clearwater

28Feb
Woman suffering from bad headache or migraine. Appointment with doctor in office room. Sick and unwell lady with stress, trauma or burnout. Young patient in pain holding head with hands. Medical visit

Insurance companies in Clearwater, FL, use the multiplier approach, per diem method, or algorithms to calculate pain and suffering damages arising from auto accidents. The value of these damages depends on multiple factors, such as the nature and severity of the injuries and the length of hospital stay. Seeking medical treatment soon after an auto accident allows documentation of your injuries and protects your right to file a pain and suffering lawsuit. Having a skilled car accident lawyer on your side from the beginning can help you hold the negligent driver liable and maximize your compensation. 

Woman suffering from bad headache or migraine. Appointment with doctor in office room. Sick and unwell lady with stress, trauma or burnout. Young patient in pain holding head with hands. Medical visit

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering describe the physical and psychological distress you suffer after getting injured because of another person’s negligent or deliberate actions. These adverse outcomes may affect your ability to perform daily living activities. So, you might be eligible for pain and suffering damages if car accident injuries affect your ability to walk, eat, work, sleep, take baths, or drive as you did before the accident. 

The severity of the limitations of your injuries serves as the benchmark for calculating pain and suffering losses. Putting a price tag on these non-economic losses is not an easy task. It is, for instance, hard to quantify the cost of getting confined to a wheelchair due to an accident. The same applies to awarding a reasonable settlement or compensation to a parent who will never get to play with his or her children. 

Pain and suffering damages fall into two separate categories, including: 

Physical Pain and Suffering

This category covers temporary or chronic pain that you experience because of an injury. Headaches, muscle pain, neck pain, and pain from fractured or broken bones are some examples of physical discomfort that might be eligible for compensation. You might be entitled to compensation for future physical pain and suffering if you are likely to endure adverse effects later.

Mental Pain and Suffering

This category refers to the mental distress you experience due to your injuries. Psychological trauma, grief, stress, anxiety, and depression fall under this category. Generally, any negative emotions directly caused by your accident can qualify as mental pain and suffering. 

Can You Get Pain and Suffering in a Florida Car Accident Claim?

Florida’s no-fault laws allow you to pursue compensation for pain and suffering from car accident injuries, provided you meet any of the following eligibility requirements: 

  • You have suffered permanent bodily impairment, such as loss of an appendage, hearing, or eyesight. 
  • Your injuries might lead to significant or lifelong complications. An example is a crashed herniated disc that can result in future disability. 
  • Your injuries have left you permanently disfigured or scarred. 
  • The accident resulted in a wrongful death

The state’s pure comparative negligence laws allow you to receive compensation even if you partially contributed to the accident and resulting injuries. 

Car accident cases usually resolve through negotiations between you (or your lawyer) and the liable party’s insurance company and legal team. Only a few accident cases go to court. Settlement can occur within a few weeks. It may, however, take several months or even years if you are still undergoing treatment and the total value of your claim is not apparent. 

Proving that an auto accident resulted in physical pain, mental anguish, and untold suffering requires an in-depth understanding of your state-specific personal injury laws. It also requires you to gather adequate evidence to prove the impact of your injuries on your everyday life. Most importantly, you must demonstrate that the other driver was at fault for your injuries. 

You must, for instance, show that the driver was engaging in a negligent act, such as distracted driving, at the time of the accident. The burden of proof in auto accident cases rests on you. 

Your biggest ally during settlement negotiations or in court is usually the medical bills and records documenting your non-economic damages. Photos and videos are also excellent evidence for your claim. 

A pain journal can also be substantial evidence when pursuing pain and suffering losses. Be truthful when recording the effects of the auto accident in your journal. Remember that you will have to testify under oath. The defense attorney will scrutinize your testimony thoroughly during cross-examination. Truthful and consistent testimony will help the jury in a jury trial or judge in a bench trial see you as a credible witness.  

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in Florida

Calculating the costs of undergoing surgery after an accident is pretty straightforward. Determining the cost of living with a permanent back injury or chronic pain caused by a broken bone, on the other hand, is an arduous task. 

Insurance companies usually use the multiplier formula or the per diem method when determining pain and suffering settlements. Alternatively, auto insurers use algorithms to put a monetary value on your trauma and anguish. Here’s how these methods work:

The Multiplier Approach 

The multiplier method eases the challenges of allotting a dollar value to your intangible damages. With this approach, the adjusters first tally up the total medical expenses arising from your auto accident injuries. The resulting figure gets multiplied by a factor ranging from 1.5 to 5 to arrive at your pain and suffering losses. 

Victims with permanent injuries, such as disfigurement or lifelong disability, get assigned a higher multiplier factor. Consequently, you might receive substantial compensation for your pain and suffering if your car accident injuries are severe and require a lengthy hospital stay. 

Example

Let’s assume you were involved in a car accident where the other driver was 100% liable. You sustained a knee injury, broken leg, or cuts, and your medical expenses amounted to $5,000. The insurance adjuster sets your multiplier at three because your injuries were substantial but not severe, and you attained full recovery within a couple of weeks. In this scenario, the value of your pain and suffering will be $15,000 – representing $5,000 multiplied by 3. 

Per diem formula 

With this approach, the insurance adjusters calculate the number of days you’re likely to miss work and, in turn, lose wages. The total number of days is then multiplied by the amount you would have earned per day at your work were it not for the injuries from the accident. 

Example

Let’s say you earn $100 daily, and you endured pain and suffering for 180 days. Your total recoverable damages will be $100 x 180, amounting to $18,000. The total case value will then be $18,000 plus your economic damages. 

Algorithms

Insurers also use algorithms. Here, the insurance adjuster considers various variables, including but not limited to the nature of your injuries, the type of treatment received, and your age, to determine the value of your claim. 

How Much Are Pain and Suffering Damages in Florida Car Accidents?

Insurance adjusters and lawyers in Florida use past jury verdicts to estimate the possible settlement ranges for new cases. The nature and seriousness of your injuries determine your pain and suffering compensation amount. Serious injuries that take longer to treat and heal attract higher pain and suffering damages than less serious ones that heal faster. 

Insurance adjusters often use ranges to value Florida injury cases. For instance, they typically place the settlements for broken wrists at around $35,000 to $70,000. The pain and suffering damages for a fractured ankle that does not require surgery are usually between $10,000 and $30,000. This amount may rise if this injury persists and fails to heal. If surgery is necessary for the fractured ankle, the value shoots and ranges from $25,000 to $50,000. 

Serious injuries in the lower back or neck areas often fetch higher settlements. For instance, pain and suffering damages from a herniated disk are often valued between $25,000 and $50,000. Again, this value rises and ranges from $250,000 to $350,000 if the lower back or neck injuries need surgery. The settlement values range from $500,000 to $750,000 if the accident results in an amputation. 

Get Medical and Legal Assistance Right Away 

Getting medical assistance right after an auto accident helps protect your health and well-being. Immediate medical attention prevents your injuries or condition from worsening and speeds up recovery. It also allows prompt detection of hidden injuries and potentially dangerous symptoms. 

Prompt medical help is also essential in establishing a direct link between your injuries and the auto accident. An insurance adjuster cannot use an alternative explanation for your injuries to deny your claim when you have medical records and doctor’s notes proving your injuries are car accident-related. 

Getting a Clearwater car accident lawyer involved right after getting released from the hospital can also increase your odds of recovering the full extent of your damages. Your lawyer will assist you in gathering and organizing the evidence needed to satisfy the burden of proof. The lawyer will also counter any tricks or arguments the insurance adjuster may attempt to use to deny or lower your settlement.

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James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.