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Car Accident Settlement for Pain and Suffering

If you’re pursuing a personal injury claim following a motor vehicle accident, most states, including Georgia, allow you to include a claim for pain and suffering for your damages. 

However, it’s daunting to put a monetary value on your pain and suffering. Because pain and suffering is difficult to prove, and it’s even more difficult to quantify. A doctor can observe your symptoms, including tenderness upon touching certain parts of your body, limited ranges of motion in joints, or redness in your throat. However, these are barely signs of pain. 

Even though the presence of pain is unquestioned, it’s even more daunting to establish the severity of the pain. Every person is unique, and thus each one of us has a different threshold of discomfort. A level of pain that may cause one person to wake up in the middle of the night and seek medical treatment may cause another person to just take a painkiller and go back to sleep.

What is Pain and Suffering?

From a legal perspective, pain and suffering refer to distinct elements of harm. “Pain” refers to any injuries and discomfort following a car accident. This includes broken bones, whiplash, lacerations, and the side effects of surgery. “Suffering” refers to the loss of enjoyment of life because of physical limitations caused by the accident, mood disorders, such as anxiety, and depression, and loss of consortium.

Further, pain and suffering refer to more than just immediate hurt from an auto accident. The state of Georgia considers conditions such as long-term emotional distress and future discomfort. These considerations are helpful, especially for those who are involved in traumatic motor vehicle crashes or suffer severe injuries.

Thus, pain and suffering not only refers to the harm you experienced during an auto crash but also refers to harm or injury you may experience in the future. It’s essential to talk with an experienced car accident lawyer to calculate these current and future estimated costs accurately.

How Do Insurance Companies Evaluate Pain and Suffering?

It’s crucial to note that many insurance company representatives handling your personal injury claim following an auto accident begin their analysis with one very important assumption: if you didn’t seek medical treatment, you’re not in any pain.

Although there are exceptions to every rule, the insurance adjuster often assumes that injuries that result in an enormous amount of medical expenses include more pain and suffering than injuries that result in minimal medical treatment. Also, insurance companies assume that injuries that require a lengthy recovery time inherently cause more pain and suffering than those that heal quickly. These assumptions influence how insurance adjusters value bodily injury claims. 

car accident injury

After an auto accident, if you decide not to seek medical treatment for your physical injuries, the insurance company won’t attach much value to your accident injury claim. This might be the case, although you’re in pain, and that your injury is quite real to you. From the insurance company’s standpoint, it’s just your word that you sustained injuries and that you’re experiencing pain and suffering.

The insurance company representative is likely to attach more value to your pain and suffering claim if there’s medical corroboration of your injury. For example, let’s say you suffer from a soft tissue injury that isn’t readily observable to a doctor. If you seek medical attention for that injury, the doctor will listen to the prescription of your symptoms and perform a physical examination. Then the doctor will note in your medical records you went to the clinic and complained of pain and discomfort in certain parts of your body after the auto accident. The doctor’s notes will also have findings from the physical examination.

The insurance company will then access your medical records as part of your pain and suffering claim evaluation. To the insurance adjuster, the fact that you took time from your school or work to seek medical treatment validates your injury claim. To the insurance adjuster, if you weren’t in any pain, you wouldn’t have gone to all that effort to ease the pain.

What Type of Evidence Do Insurance Companies Use to Determine Pain and Suffering Damages?

When determining the value of your pain and suffering claim, the insurance adjuster reviews many types of supporting documentation that corroborate your pain and suffering claim. Thus, it’s essential to be mindful of the documents the insurance company may find helpful and preserve these documents for future use. These may include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Medical records;
  • Prescription records;
  • Pictures of your injuries;
  • A diary or journal with detailed notes about the effects of the injury on your life and happiness;
  • Receipts of over-the-counter medications; and 
  • Records from your employer about any lost time from work.
neck injury from car accident

What Method Do Insurance Companies Use to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?

Often, stakeholders in a car accident injury case--insurance companies, in particular--use simple formulas to determine a rough estimate of personal injury settlements. These formulas sometimes do a brilliant job of reflecting the scope of damages for pain and suffering. However, these formulas can’t substitute for the types of evidence mentioned above.

The are two primary methods used to calculate pain and suffering damages include:

  1. The multiplier method. In Georgia, there’s no monetary cap for pain and suffering settlements. Thus, the multiplier method is a common method for calculating pain and suffering damages. This method involves adding your economic damages, these include medical bills, and lost income, and then multiplying the total with a number between 1 and 5. The more severe or permanent your injuries are, the higher the multiplier. For example, if you broke your leg after the car accident and needed to take a week off work, the insurance adjuster may assign a 2 to your injury claim. If your economic damages totaled $10,000, you would recover $20,000 in pain and suffering damages.
  2. The per diem method. This involves determining a per diem amount of pain and suffering, such as $200 for each day that passes between the time of the car accident and the time the accident victim makes a full recovery. Here, the dollar amount of the per day rate encapsulates the strength of the pain and suffering evidence.

At Marks Law Group, our team of experienced Decatur car accident lawyers has been helping car accident victims in Decatur and throughout Georgia recover money for pain and suffering. This has taught us that even when using the two formulas described above, evidence and analysis play a crucial role. For instance, if an insurance adjuster pulls $200/day out of thin air as the actual amount for a per diem calculation of pain and suffering damages, your personal injury attorney should insist on a higher dollar amount if he o she has gathered enough evidence, and done analysis, to prove why $200/day is too low.

We Can Help You Recover Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering!

If you’ve sustained injuries in a car accident in Decatur, choosing an aggressive Decatur law firm that has helped thousands of personal injury victims in Georgia recover fair compensation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your car accident injury case. At Marks Law Group, our experienced Decatur personal injury lawyers have decades of experience helping personal injury victims recover fair compensation, and we can help you too. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at (404) 939-1485 , or chat with us online to learn how we can help.

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