In Michigan alone, there have been 245,432 car accidents in 2020 according to data from the Michigan State Police. Of those crashes, 60,986 suffered injuries and 1,083 died. Those who survived their accidents may live with incredible amounts of physical pain and emotional distress every single day, some compensated for it and some not. If you or a loved one is suffering after an accident, personal injury attorneys at Lipton Law want to teach them how to prove pain and suffering after a car accident so they may receive compensation. Call us today at 248-557-1688 for a free consultation.
What is Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?
Pain and suffering falls under non-economic damages because insurance adjusters can’t measure it monetarily like they can with economic damages. Economic damages will generally reimburse a car accident victim for losses like all medical bills and lost wages. Meanwhile, non-economic damages will cover all aspects of pain and suffering following a car accident, which can include:
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- General emotional distress
- PTSD symptoms like flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical aches and pains
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disability, short-term disability, scarring, or disfigurement
Pain and suffering is different for every car accident victim. Therefore, it’s difficult to define in the legal world and even more difficult for insurance companies to provide appropriate compensation for this pain. But compensation for those who suffer major injuries and death from a car accident will generally be more than those who suffer minor injuries along with emotional distress.
How is Pain and Suffering Determined in a Car Accident?
Economic damages like major physical injuries and lost wages from car accidents are generally measured monetarily. That’s not the case for pain and suffering. So insurance adjusters have to ask questions like these in order to come up with an appropriate dollar amount:
- How will the victim’s day-to-day existence be affected?
- Was the victim hospitalized?
- Does the victim have limited mobility?
- Is the victim permanently disabled or disfigured?
- Will the injury have an impact on their obligations at home or at work?
- Is the victim struggling to sleep or engage in activities that they used to enjoy?
If “yes” is the answer to the majority of these questions, insurance adjusters will have to calculate a specific dollar amount to cover the victim’s pain and suffering.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated After a Car Accident?
Every insurance company is different when it comes to doling out economic and non-economic damages following a car accident. But most companies will consider these factors when deciding compensation for pain and suffering:
- The victim’s lifestyle and age
- What led up to and caused the car accident
- How strong the evidence is
- The type of injury and how severe it is
- Recovery time
After considering these factors, many insurance companies will use one of the following methods to calculate a specific dollar amount for pain and suffering.
The multiplier method tallies up all of your monetary losses as a result of the accident and then multiplies that total by a certain amount. This rate typically ranges from 1 to 5. Compensation for pain and suffering will vary quite a bit with this method. If you suffer serious injuries that take a long time to heal, you will likely have a larger multiplier number.
For example, let’s say your economic damages total approximately $30,000 and your multiplier is five because you suffered a permanent disability from your car accident. By this method, you may receive $150,000 in compensation for your pain and suffering.
Daily Rate Method
You and your lawyer must first determine your daily cost of living in order to use the daily rate method. After you’ve calculated this figure, double it by the number of days your life has changed because of the accident.
For example, maybe a person who makes $20 an hour at their full-time job gets into a nasty car accident. This person makes approximately $160 a day. If it takes six months (roughly 180 days) to recover from their accident with physical therapy and counseling, they could receive approximately $28,800 for their pain and suffering using this method.
This is basically the comparison method. A lawyer, judge, or jury searches for similar situations from the past. These earlier situations are then used to determine the worth of your current accident case.
For example, maybe someone else got into a car accident in 2015 and suffered very similar injuries as you. Maybe that person filed a personal injury lawsuit and received $70,000 for their pain and suffering alone. Your lawyer may then argue that you deserve that much for your pain and suffering plus inflation.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident
You may be asking yourself how to prove pain and suffering after a crash. It’s definitely harder to prove than other aspects of a car accident. Only you know how much mental and physical pain you’re in following an accident, so it’s crucial that you utilize every bit of evidence available to demonstrate that pain.
Types of Evidence
The best types of evidence to prove pain and suffering after an accident can include:
- Pictures of your car accident
- Pictures of your injuries after the accident
- All medical records and bills that describe all your tests, scans, and treatments
- Receipts for medications or medication bottles
- Notes from your doctor about the severity of your physical and mental pain following the accident
- Financial proof of lost wages following the accident
- Personal journal that describes both mental and physical pain after an accident
- Testimonies from family and friends about your pain and how your life has changed since the accident
- A list of daily activities, responsibilities, or hobbies that you can no longer participate in because of your physical or mental pain following the accident
Be Mindful of What You Say
You certainly should be as honest as possible about your pain with your family, friends, doctors, therapists, and lawyers. Their job is to listen and improve your quality of life as much as possible during your recovery. But you should undoubtedly watch what you say when you’re on the phone with an insurance adjuster after your accident. They may try to convince you to provide a recorded statement about your condition only to use it against you later by not giving you the compensation you deserve. Because of this, it’s important to allow a personal injury attorney at Lipton Law to talk to insurance adjusters on your behalf. We know exactly what to say, which will take a weight off your shoulders while you’re recovering.
Who Pays for Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?
In most states, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will pay a car crash victim for all damages. But if your damages happen to max out their policy, then you can either:
- See if your own insurance will cover some economic damages, but this will only work if you already have collision coverage
- Sue the at-fault driver for the full amount of economic and non-economic damages
If you choose to sue, you will certainly have to prove that the at-fault driver was actually to blame. In other words, you will have to prove that the other driver was negligent in order to receive the full compensation you deserve. There are several forms of distracted driving that experienced Michigan car accident attorneys can point out.
Proving Fault Through the Elements of Negligence
An experienced personal injury attorney at Lipton Law can help you prove that the at-fault driver was negligent through the elements of negligence.
- Duty of care: Every driver on the road owes each other a duty of care and responsibility.
- Breach of duty of care: The driver who caused your accident breached that duty of care somehow.
- Causation: You suffered physical injuries and significant emotional distress because the at-fault driver breached their duty of care.
- Damages: Compensation can cover your injuries and other losses due to the crash.
Michigan’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
Another factor that may impact whether you receive compensation for pain and suffering is Michigan’s modified comparative negligence rule. This means that you will only receive compensation for pain and suffering if you were less than 50% responsible for the car accident.
Is Michigan a No Fault State?
Yes, Michigan is one of 12 states (plus the District of Columbia) that is a no fault state. This means that even if you didn’t cause the accident, you need to file a claim with your own insurance company in order to receive economic damages. People who sustain very serious physical and mental harm from a car accident may be able to receive non-economic damages (AKA pain and suffering) through a lawsuit. But if your injuries aren’t considered a “serious” impairment, then your case may be dismissed altogether.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
In Michigan, car crash victims have three years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If someone dies from a car accident, the family must file a wrongful death lawsuit within three years from the day of their loved one’s death. It is important to adhere closely to the Michigan personal injury statute of limitations to receive compensation.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney at Lipton Law Today
Certain Michigan laws can make it difficult for car crash survivors to receive the compensation they deserve. If a victim’s injuries are severe enough for a personal injury lawsuit, they then have to wonder how to prove pain and suffering in order to receive justice. Experienced personal injury attorneys at Lipton Law will make sure that you or your loved one receives the best possible outcome in their case. Call us today at 258-557-1688 for a free consultation.