Car accidents cause injuries. Injuries lead to medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses. Most people know that if another driver injures them, they are entitled to recover money lost as a result of the car accident. But injured drivers can also receive damages for the pain and suffering caused by the car crash. Here’s what you should know about recovering pain and suffering damages after an Alabama car accident.
What are Damages?
Personal injury cases are based on negligence. A negligent person is one who doesn’t follow the standards that a reasonable person would under the circumstances. For instance, even if the speed limit is 55 mph, a reasonable person would drive more slowly in bad weather. So, driving 55 mph on an icy road could be considered negligent.
If a negligent person hurts someone else in a car crash, the law wants to put the injured person back in the same position that they were in before the accident. But because we don’t have time machines, we can’t actually erase their injuries. But we can give them money that compensates them for their injuries. This money is called damages.
There are two types of damages that compensate people for their injuries. The first is economic damages. Economic damages reimburse the injured person for things like medical bills, hospital care, and physical therapy. They can also cover other economic losses such as lost wages and property damage.
The second type of damages focuses on non-economic injuries. Non-economic damages can include harm to a relationship with a loved one (called “loss of consortium”), loss of enjoyment in normal activities, emotional injuries such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and pain and suffering.
What are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Let’s use an example to better understand pain and suffering damages. Jay was in a car crash that caused him to break several vertebrae (the bones that hold the spine). After the accident, Jay experienced excruciating back pain. The pain continued every day for 18 months.
In this example, Jay can recover the cost of the economic losses such as doctor’s visits and surgeries. But he can also recover for the pain caused by the injury. Remember, damages are supposed to put the injured person in the same position they were in before the accident. The court can’t take away Jay’s pain, but it can give him damages to compensate him for his suffering. That’s the point of pain and suffering damages.
How Do I Prove Pain and Suffering Damages?
Proving pain and suffering damages after an Alabama car accident can be tricky. Economic damages like medical bills are objective. You can look at the bill and see exactly how much the treatment cost. But you can’t do the same with pain and suffering. Every person experiences pain differently. Also, there is no one way to measure pain. So pain and suffering damages are more subjective. This makes these damages more difficult to prove.
Proving pain and suffering may not be simple, but it is doable. Medical records can show that you were in pain over several months. Your diary or journal can also be evidence of how you felt at a certain time.
There are many other ways to prove that you are entitled to pain and suffering damages after an Alabama car accident. An experienced Birmingham accident lawyer can help you decide which kinds of proof will work best in your case.
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
Generally, Alabama personal injury lawyers use two ways to determine pain and suffering damages.
The Multiplier Method. The first – and most popular – way to calculate pain and suffering damages after an Alabama car accident is the multiplier method. In this approach, the injury lawyer or insurance adjuster adds up all of the economic damages. Then, they multiply this total by another number called the “multiplier.” The multiplier is usually a number between 1.5 and 5. The result is the estimate of pain and suffering damages.
This may sound straightforward, but lawyers and insurance companies often argue about how high the multiplier should be. Factors that should lead to a higher multiplier include
- A severe injury,
- Multiple injuries,
- Permanent injuries,
- The need for future medical treatment, and
- An injury that will not improve with further treatment.
Generally, more serious and extensive injuries result in a higher multiplier. But lawyers and insurance companies will often push back and argue that the multiplier should be lower.
The Per Diem Method. Per diem is Latin for “per day.” So, in this method, the accident attorney assigns a daily rate to the pain and suffering. They look at the date when the injured person reached maximum medical improvement. They use that date and the injured person’s pre-accident earnings and income to calculate a daily average to estimate pain and suffering.
The Takeaway. If these methods seem confusing, that’s because they can be. To complicate things further, sometimes, insurance companies will refuse to use either of these methods and come up with their own calculations. These difficulties are another reason why it’s important to have a skilled Alabama injury attorney on your side.
Want to Learn More About Pain and Suffering Damages After an Alabama Car Accident?
We hope this post provided you with helpful information about how lawyers calculate pain and suffering damages after an Alabama car accident. If you have more questions about pain and suffering or any other personal injury topic, please contact Collins Law, LLC. Our firm’s founder, April H. Collins, is a renowned Birmingham accident lawyer who handles motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents, and many other types of collisions. Call us at 205-588-1411 or use our website’s online scheduling tool.