How to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Settlement

If you have injuries caused by a car accident, you likely have medical bills to pay. In addition, you may have more expenses related to the accident, like lost wages. You may not even think about some of the other things you have endured, such as mental stress, disruption to your everyday life and a general reduction in your quality of life.

Instead of focusing on healing and moving on with your life, you might be overwhelmed by it all. Trying to figure out how to make yourself whole again, recover money lost wages and pay for expensive medical bills can be complicated.

When it comes time to quantify these types of losses in actual dollars, it is not always straightforward. However, at Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm, we are committed to understanding how difficult being the victim of an accident can be for you and your family. We know how to calculate the potential financial losses and determine the potential amount of compensation to which you are entitled. It is our goal to get you back to the same position that you were in before the accident.

Types of Damages

Odds are, you don’t know how to calculate the total cost of all of the injuries you received in a car accident. This is a specialized calculation. In North Carolina, there are two main types of damages: special and general. Special damages are usually easy to calculate. They are the tangible monetary losses that are directly related to your accident and injuries. Examples of special damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage.

Special damages can be added together easily.

General damages, sometimes called pain and suffering, are usually more subjective, rendering them more difficult to calculate. General damages, like pain and suffering, are not guaranteed in every case. Examples of general damages include:

  • Emotional trauma from the accident and accompanying injuries
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of consortium.

How Is Pain And Suffering Calculated in a Car Accident?

With more than 3 million people injured each year in car accidents, you might think that there is an easy formula to calculate pain and suffering in a car accident. However, in North Carolina, the method to calculate pain and suffering can depend on several factors.

1. The Severity of Your Injury or Injuries

Nearly all pain and suffering car accident settlements take into consideration the severity of your injuries when calculating the value of the settlement. Simply put, the more severe the injury, the higher the potential for general damages becomes.

2. The Way Your Injuries Affect Your Daily Life

Sometimes, injuries sustained in a car accident affect your daily life merely during recovery. However, in other cases, injuries sustained in a car accident can affect your daily life permanently. The degree to which your daily life has changed because of your injury will dictate the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled.

The more significant the impact on your daily life, the greater the monetary value of pain and suffering damages. If you were the victim of a severe accident in which you sustained a permanent injury, you might be entitled to greater general damages. On the other hand, if your injury only affected your life on a temporary basis, you may not be entitled to as much monetary compensation.

3. The Mental Health Impact of Your Injuries

No doubt, you had stress and anxiety due to your accident. This is a normal response to a traumatic event. However, if you are experiencing lasting or significant mental health concerns as a result of your serious accident, your pain and suffering settlement should include compensation for your mental injuries and condition.

If you are suffering mental and emotional stress as a result of being involved in an accident, seek medical help from a qualified mental health service provider. You will likely benefit from talking to someone about the accident, and there will be documentation of the accident’s impact on your mental health.

While these three factors are an excellent guide to calculate general damages, the fact remains that they are highly subjective. To place a monetary value on difficult-to-quantify damages, two primary methods are used to calculate general damages in North Carolina.

A Method to Calculate General Damages

Every injury claim is different. However, general damages usually calculated using the per diem method.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method is a method used by attorneys to calculate general damages. This method places a dollar amount on each day that you have suffered pain or inconvenience since the accident in which you were involved.

The severity of the injury will determine the amount the attorney seeks for your general damages.

Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples

Here is one of many common pain and suffering settlement examples: You are in an accident that causes you to have a broken arm and several bruises. You have surgery on your arm, and you remain in pain for about three months, or 90 days. Your lawyer makes a recommendation that you are entitled to $300 per day or $27,000.

How Can You Improve Your Case for a Settlement?

One of the keys to making sure you receive the full amount of pain and suffering you are entitled to is to document everything. Jurors have a hard time quantifying pain and suffering because it’s so difficult to measure. Yes, jurors can see casts, slings and splints, but they cannot see pain.

There are things that you can do to help your case:

  • Keep medication bottles and document prescriptions.
  • Keep copies of all bills, explanations of benefits and estimates for medical treatment.
  • Let your doctor know if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or other mental health problems.
  • Keep a journal — documentation of physical pain and emotions helps quantify emotional distress.

Reach Out to Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm

In 2020, property damage, injuries and deaths from auto accidents cost around $474 billion in the United States alone, according to National Safety Council estimates. This is a staggering figure. At Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm, we understand how difficult it can be to recover from a car accident. Pain and suffering can take a toll on the strongest of people.

Your focus should be on recovery. It can be overwhelming to navigate the process and determine how to calculate your pain and suffering in a car accident settlement. It is easy to leave money on the table, so let us help you build your case the correct way. If you are interested in a free consultation to determine what type of settlement you may be entitled to, contact Sumwalt Anderson Law Firm today at (704) 377-3770.

Attorney Richard Anderson

Richard “Rick” Anderson is a native Charlottean. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990 and his Juris Doctorate law degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law in 1993. Rick focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, medical negligence, and catastrophic personal injury cases. You will find Rick to be an honest and dedicated advocate ready to fight for his clients. When he accepts your case, Rick makes a personal commitment to you and uses his 27 years of knowledge and experience to advance your lawsuit to achieve a successful outcome. [ Attorney Bio ]


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