Although the victim of a car accident suffers financial losses, they also suffer non-pecuniary damages that are harder to quantify but still meaningful. These damages are referred to as non-economic damages and are meant to compensate a victim for their physical suffering and emotional injuries. One of the most common non-economic damages is known as “pain and suffering.” Going through surgeries, physical therapy, and the psychological torture of knowing how much your injuries will affect the rest of your life causes great amounts of anguish, frustration, and emotional distress.
Although suffering is subjective, personal injury lawyer Timothy J. Ryan says that victims of negligence deserve full compensation for all of their losses. Non-economic damages compensate victims for:
- The loss of consortium felt by the victim’s spouse and family
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Emotional trauma for organ damage and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life due to disability
The Multiplier Method
Pain and suffering is usually calculated by using the multiplier method. This method multiplies the total of your economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 5. The more severe your injuries and the impact they’ve had on your life, the higher the multiplier.
What are economic damages?
Economic damages are the financial losses that stem from the accident and your resulting injuries. They include but are not limited to your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future lost earnings
Economic damages also include out-of-pocket costs such as childcare, transportation, household services, and the cost to repair or replace your vehicle.
The more severe your accident, the more traumatic your subjective experience likely was. The more traumatic your experience, the higher the multiplier. If you suffered permanent disfigurement, loss of the use of an organ, loss of consortium, and have lost your enjoyment of life, then your multiplier could be 4 or 5 in some cases.
In addition, the more serious your injuries, the higher your economic damages will be. The insurance company is going to fight back hard to reduce the amount that they pay out in your settlement. Your personal injury attorney fights to prove that you deserve every dollar that you are asking for. Your injury attorney will exhaust their resources proving your pain and suffering.
How Pain And Suffering Can Be Calculated
An example can help illustrate how pain and suffering damages are calculated. A 26-year-old driver is hit while making a left turn by another driver who was drunk behind the wheel. She strikes a median and a tree as a result of the initial impact. The multiple impacts cause serious catastrophic injuries. After she is rushed to the hospital and undergoes emergency surgery, she finds out that her spinal cord has sustained damage and that she does not have control over the lower part of her body. Although she may be able to recover her ability to walk due to her age and her good health before the accident, it will take years and expensive visits with a physical therapist.
She will also be unable to return to her job at an outdoors retailer and suffers deep sadness from learning that she cannot run, hike, or do any of the things she previously loved. She cannot play with her young daughter and experience motherhood the way she always thought she would. She sees a therapist to deal with her anxiety and depression. Due to the permanence of her injuries, physical anguish, and emotional heartbreak, her multiplier could be 5. If her total medical expenses were $100,000, then her non-economic damages could be as high as $500,000 for a total settlement of $600,000. Because she hired an experienced personal injury attorney, she got every penny that she deserved.
Factors that can increase how much you receive in a personal injury case include:
- If a limb had to be amputated
- If the victim lost the use of an organ
- If the injuries caused blindness, deafness, or for the victim to lose another one of the five senses
- If the victim was paralyzed as a result of their injuries
Are there damage caps in California personal injury cases?
Damage caps limit how much compensation victims can recover for their losses. In the state of California, there are no damage caps for personal injury cases except for medical malpractice cases, so if you were injured in a car accident, slip and fall accident, by a defective product, or a dog bite, then there are no damage caps. This means that you should hire a personal injury attorney with a successful track record of winning settlements on behalf of their clients so that you get the maximum compensation possible.
When should I speak to an attorney?
Although you have two years from the date of the accident to file your personal injury claim under the California statute of limitations, you should speak to an attorney within 30 days of your accident to increase your chances of getting the most out of your damages. The personal injury attorneys know that many times victims are scared to see a doctor out of fear that they will be left with the bill. When you talk to a personal injury attorney, they can advise you of your rights and how to get the liable party to pay for your financial and non-pecuniary losses.
Call Car Accident Attorney Timothy J. Ryan Now
Personal injury lawyer Timothy J. Ryan has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for clients in California, and he can help you, too. You deserve respect and compassion as well as expert legal guidance when you file a personal injury claim. The laws are complex, but when you have an experienced attorney on your side, then you can trust their advocacy. Call 714-908-9069 now to schedule your consultation.