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How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident?

How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident?

After a car accident caused by someone else, you may wonder, "How much will I get for pain and suffering from a car accident?"

Mounting medical bills, missing work, and a lot of pain compounds the devastating initial physical and emotional trauma from a serious crash. The last thing you need is the stress of going through the legal process on your own.

This is where an experienced car accident attorney can help. A skilled lawyer will fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve, including money for your pain and suffering.

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What Is Pain and Suffering?

In a legal context, pain and suffering refers to the physical discomfort and emotional distress you experience due to the accident and your injuries.

It includes:

Physical Pain From Your Injuries

When you're in a car accident, your body can experience a lot of force and trauma. This can lead to many types of physical injuries that cause severe pain.

Some common painful injuries from crashes include broken bones, whiplash, neck and back injuries, torn ligaments, and deep cuts or bruises. The pain from these injuries can be intense and last for weeks, months, or even years.

You may need strong pain medications, surgeries, or ongoing physical therapy to manage the pain.

The suffering can make it hard to sleep, work, or do basic activities. No one should have to live with chronic pain because of someone else's careless driving.

Emotional Anguish, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD

Emotional Anguish

Car accidents don't just hurt you physically - they can also cause serious emotional and mental distress. It's common for crash survivors to experience anguish, anxiety, depression, and even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afterward.

You may have nightmares or flashbacks of the accident. You might feel irritable, on edge, and worried it will happen again.

Some people become afraid to drive or ride in cars. Others withdraw from friends and family. Severe cases can lead to suicidal thoughts.

These are real, diagnosable conditions that can dramatically affect your quality of life. Treatment may require therapy, medication, and time off work. You deserve compensation for this emotional pain and suffering.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life and Activities

One of the most devastating aspects of a serious car accident injury is how it robs you of the ability to enjoy your normal life and activities. Depending on your injuries, you may not play sports, exercise, dance, play with your kids, take vacations, or engage in your hobbies for a long time. The accident may take away even simple pleasures like walking the dog or driving to see friends.

Permanent injuries and the loss of your former lifestyle may require you to find a new normal. This loss of enjoyment of life is a major component of pain and suffering damages. No amount of money can replace what you've lost, but it can help contribute to an improved quality of life.

Disfigurement or Permanent Impairment

Some car accident injuries cause permanent disfigurement or impairment. This could include losing a limb, severe burns or road rash scars, or paralysis. Your appearance may be permanently changed. You may never use a specific body part the same way again.

These are lifelong losses that can have a huge impact on your self-esteem, relationships, and ability to work. People with disfiguring or disabling injuries often face discrimination, too. The psychological pain and suffering is immense. Juries recognize the incredible challenges of living with disfigurement or impairment and often award higher pain and suffering damages for these cases.

Grief From Losing a Loved One in the Crash

The ultimate pain and suffering is when you lose a beloved family member in a car accident. This grief and anguish is unimaginable. Your whole world is shattered. You must go on without your partner, child, parent, or sibling. There will be an empty seat at every holiday, birthday, and milestone.

The sorrow may feel unbearable at times. Some survivors feel guilty they are alive or angry at the unfairness of the loss. Grief is a highly individual process that can last for many years.

If you lost a relative in a crash, you can recover pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death claim. While this can never make up for your heartbreaking loss, it can ease the financial stress and provide resources for counseling and recovery. An attorney can help you get the maximum compensation possible.

Factors Affecting Pain and Suffering Settlements

So, how do you put a price tag on pain and suffering? The truth is, there's no standard formula or "average" amount. Every case is unique. But in general, here are some key factors that can influence the value:

Severity of Injuries

More serious injuries typically lead to higher pain and suffering awards. Severe, permanent, or disfiguring injuries like traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, amputations, or severe burns tend to receive the highest amounts. Even moderate injuries requiring ongoing treatment, like herniated discs or PTSD, can garner substantial sums, though.

Type of Injuries

Certain types of injuries are known to be incredibly painful and emotionally traumatic, such as facial disfigurement, sexual dysfunction, or loss of a limb or sense (vision, hearing). These may warrant higher pain and suffering compensation.

Long-Term Impacts

If your injuries cause permanent disabilities, chronic pain, loss of earning potential, inability to care for yourself, engage in hobbies, or have intimate relationships, your pain and suffering will be valued higher. The younger you are, the more years you'll be impacted.

Emotional Distress

If you develop depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, or other emotional injuries after the crash, this can significantly increase your pain and suffering damages. Some accident victims become housebound or suicidal. Children are especially vulnerable to emotional trauma.

Disruptive Medical Treatment

Invasive, long-term medical treatments like surgeries, painful physical therapy, or being immobilized in a body cast for months can add to the pain and suffering calculation. Hospitalizations, especially in the ICU, are also very traumatic.


Unfortunately, human nature can color the value of pain and suffering. If you come across as very credible, sympathetic, and relatable, juries may be inclined to award higher amounts. On the flip side, if you have a criminal record, a history of filing lawsuits, or unsavory character, they may award less.

Aggravating Circumstances

If the at-fault party acted intentionally, recklessly, or maliciously (e.g., drunk driver, hit-and-run, road rage), this can drastically increase pain and suffering amounts, sometimes even adding punitive damages. Juries don't look kindly on egregious wrongdoing.

Insurance Policy Limits

Here's the bad news - the at-fault party's auto insurance policy limits can restrict your pain and suffering recovery. If they only have the state minimum liability coverage, say $25,000 per person, that may be the ceiling on your award, even if a jury believes you deserve $500,000.

You can sometimes turn to your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant directly, but these have challenges too. Bottom line - the deeper their pockets, the more potential for a high pain and suffering payout.

Methods to Calculate Pain and Suffering

Okay, so how do the experts actually come up with a number for pain and suffering? With two primary methods:

1. The Multiplier Method

With this approach, your economic damages (medical bills, lost wages) are added up and then multiplied by a number to arrive at the pain and suffering amount. The more severe the injuries, the higher the multiplier.

2. The Per Diem Method

Using this method, a certain dollar amount (often based on your daily earnings) is assigned to each day you suffered from the crash, from the day of the accident until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). The sum of those days equals your pain and suffering damages.

Your attorney will use the method they think will maximize your compensation. The multiplier and per diem amounts are not set in stone; just arguing points. The defense will always push for lower numbers. Ultimately, it comes down to negotiation skills.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney

Consulting a lawyer

Getting fair compensation for pain and suffering is an uphill battle. The insurance company will use every trick in the book to downplay, delay, and deny your claim. You need an aggressive legal representative in your corner from day one to even the scales.

An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to:

Thoroughly Investigate the Crash and Gather Evidence

One of the most important things a car accident attorney will do is thoroughly investigate your crash and gather all the evidence needed to build a strong case.

They will visit the accident scene, take photos, and interview witnesses. They will obtain the police report, traffic camera footage, and 911 recordings.

If the at-fault driver was texting, your lawyer will subpoena their cell phone records. If a commercial truck was involved, your lawyer will demand access to the truck's black box data, driver logs, and maintenance records.

Handle All Communication With the Insurers

Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident is a nightmare. They will call you constantly, demanding statements and pushing you to accept a quick, lowball settlement. They may twist your words or dig through your medical history to find excuses to deny your claim.

It feels overwhelming, especially when you're trying to recover from painful injuries.

That's why you need an attorney to handle all communication with the insurers on your behalf. Your lawyer will field every call, letter, and email from the insurance adjusters. They will protect you from saying anything that could harm your case. They will make sure the insurers play by the rules and don't take advantage of you.

Negotiate Strategically for Maximum Compensation

Getting fair compensation for your car accident injuries and pain and suffering often comes down to intense negotiations with the insurance company. These corporations have teams of adjusters and attorneys trained to minimize payouts and protect their bottom line.

This David vs. Goliath battle requires skill and strategy.

That's where your attorney's negotiation experience is valuable. Your attorney will use the strong evidence they've gathered of your damages to justify the highest possible settlement amount. They will use proven tactics to counter the insurance company's arguments and get them to increase their offers.

They may go back and forth many times before reaching an agreement. Having a seasoned negotiator on your side can make the difference between a subpar settlement and a top-dollar award.

Connect You With Top Doctors and Experts to Treat and Document Your Injuries

To get full compensation for your pain and suffering, you need rock-solid proof of the extent and impact of your injuries. You can get this through high-quality medical treatment and having your injuries thoroughly documented by respected doctors and experts.

A top-notch car accident attorney will have a network of renowned physicians and specialists they trust to care for their clients. They can connect you with leading orthopedists, neurologists, pain management doctors, surgeons, and therapists to diagnose and treat every aspect of your injuries.

These medical pros will create meticulous records of your injuries, treatment, and prognosis that will be powerful evidence in your case. The better your medical evidence, the stronger your claim for pain and suffering damages.

Take Your Case to Trial, and Compellingly Argue Your Pain and Suffering to a Jury

While most car accident cases settle out of court, sometimes the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer. If this happens in your case, you need an attorney who is fully prepared to take your case to trial and fight for your rights before a judge and jury.

This puts your lawyer's courtroom skills to the test.

They will have to compellingly argue why you deserve substantial compensation for your pain and suffering. They may bring in medical experts, life care planners, and economists to testify about your injuries and long-term needs. They will vividly paint the picture of how your life has been upended and make the jury feel your suffering.

The most successful trial lawyers are master storytellers who can persuade juries to award top-dollar verdicts for pain and suffering.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney to Get the Compensation You Deserve

Pursuing compensation for pain and suffering after an accident is a complex, adversarial process. The amount you recover will depend on a whole host of factors unique to your case, from the severity of your injuries to the available insurance to the skill of your legal team.

The one constant is that you need an experienced car accident attorney fighting hard for every penny you're owed. Trying to go up against a billion-dollar insurance company alone while you're seriously injured is a losing proposition. A good lawyer is your ticket to the full, fair compensation you need to heal and move forward with your life.

Don't let someone else's negligence rob you of justice. If a car accident injured you, protect your rights. Contact a qualified personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. Call now to get started on the road to recovery.

Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert - Owner & Attorney

Attorney Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert was seriously injured in a collision and experienced firsthand dealing with uncooperative insurance companies. She knows what it is like to feel overwhelmed and under-educated about your rights after a collision. That is why she has dedicated this firm to fighting for accident victims and their loved ones. The goal of The Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore LLC is to provide you with excellent legal advice, based on our experience in representing injured automobile drivers and passengers from all across the State of Georgia.

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