It’s impossible to say exactly how much compensation for pain and suffering you could secure for your car accident. Each case is unique, and the pain and suffering settlement will be calculated based on the particular circumstances of the case.
For example, the following may be taken into account:
- The severity of your injuries
- The degree of ongoing disability
- The impact on your way of life
- The strength of your case
Whatever happened in your car accident, if you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for the physical and mental injuries you suffered. The empathetic car accident attorneys of Judd Shaw Injury Law want to hear your case and explain your legal options. Contact us 24/7 for a free case review by calling 1-866-909-6894 or filling out our online form.
Defining Pain and Suffering
When you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you have the right to pursue two kinds of damages:
- Economic damages: Compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, including medical bills and lost earnings
- Non-economic damages: Compensation for non-monetary losses, such as physical pain, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment in certain activities; in New Jersey, there is no cap on the damages you could receive for pain and suffering
Economic damages are relatively simple to calculate – you can total the medical bills, lost earnings, and other expenses. However, putting a price tag on pain and suffering is not quite so easy. The level of suffering experienced by each individual varies depending on the severity of his or her injuries and the long-term conditions those cause.
State laws also set high legal standards for pain and suffering, which is why it pays to work with an experienced car accident attorney rather than relying on the insurance company to provide a fair settlement.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
Generally, pain refers to the physical pain you have suffered and may continue to suffer due to your car accident.
Suffering takes into account the mental anguish many people experience after car crashes. For example, one study by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that approximately 10 to 20 percent of car accident survivors experience ongoing psychological health problems.
However, pain and suffering can also apply to a range of non-economic losses people may experience following a car accident. For example:
- Disfigurement: Your wounds may heal well after a car accident but leave you with permanent scarring. This could have a detrimental effect on your emotional well-being and enjoyment of life.
- Disability: The World Health Organization estimates that 20 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries in car accidents each year, and many are left permanently disabled. Disabilities may cause long-term pain and suffering, which your attorney can consider.
- Loss of consortium: Your accident may render you unable to provide your spouse with the intimacy, comfort, affection, and support you did before. Your car accident lawyer must prove that your car accident was the direct cause of this long-term change in your marital relationship.
- Loss of enjoyment in life: If you acquired a permanent disability in your accident, you might no longer be able to ski, ride a bike, play tennis, or participate in other activities you enjoyed before your accident.
This is just a sample of the aftereffects a car accident can have on your life for which you can pursue compensation. When you hire a Judd Shaw Injury Law attorney, he or she will thoroughly investigate the full impact of your accident and calculate a fair pain and suffering settlement to pursue on your behalf.
Challenges in Obtaining Pain and Suffering Compensation
New Jersey’s car insurance laws and the legal doctrine of comparative negligence can make obtaining pain and suffering compensation more difficult.
New Jersey car insurance
In New Jersey, there are two types of car insurance policies:
- Basic policy: A combination of no-fault or personal injury protection (PPI) insurance and liability insurance. Usually gives the policyholder a limited right to sue.
- Standard policy: As above, but with additional options, including the unlimited right to sue. These policies are more expensive.
If you purchase a policy with the unlimited right-to-sue option, you can pursue pain and suffering compensation. However, if you only have a limited right-to-sue policy, most injuries do not qualify for pain and suffering damages.
Only very specific injuries give you the option of pursuing non-economic damages. These may include:
- Permanent injury
- Loss of a body part
New Jersey comparative negligence law
In New Jersey, if you are 50-percent at fault or less, you can pursue damages for pain and suffering. Yet bear in mind that the amount of your damages will be reduced by the percentage you were considered at fault. For example, if you are 40-percent at fault, then your damages will be reduced by 40 percent.
Don’t be quick to conclude that these hurdles mean you can’t pursue damages for pain and suffering. First, discuss your options with an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney. He or she will have seen this type of case before and can advise you on the legal avenues that may still be open to you.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
There is no single method of calculating pain and suffering damages. However, attorneys and insurance companies may agree to use one of the following methods to come to a mutually acceptable settlement figure.
This method involves multiplying the economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 4, depending on the severity of the injuries. Relatively minor injuries with shorter recovery times will be at the lower end of the scale. More serious, long-term disabilities will be at the higher end, and the multiplier may be greater than 4 in some cases.
Per diem method
The per diem or per day method is usually used when the car accident victim is expected to make a complete recovery. The amount is calculated based on the number of days of suffering.
Evidence to support your pain and suffering claim
Although it is more challenging to provide evidence to support pain and suffering claims, there are a few things you can do to build a stronger case:
- Seek medical help: Get immediate medical attention and carefully follow the doctor’s recommendations
- Document your injuries: Photos of your injuries, medical records, medication, and HR records from your employer can build a picture of your suffering
- Keep a journal: Document your pain levels, sleep, and emotional state each day
Hire a skilled attorney
Calculating a fair settlement for pain and suffering is both a science and an art, so the support of an experienced, successful car accident attorney is essential. Your lawyer will leave no stone unturned in building a strong case that could secure you a higher award than going it alone.
It’s Time for a Free Case Evaluation
The pain and suffering caused by a car accident can take a huge toll on your life. Yet, rather than being overwhelmed by the prospect of fighting for your rights, let Judd Shaw Injury Law take that burden off your shoulders.
Our dedicated team of car accident attorneys fights aggressively for our clients’ rights. If we agree to take on your case, we will be your knights in shining armor and put all our resources into pursuing the best possible settlement for you. Keeping our clients’ first place is always the Judd Shaw Way.
Don’t delay. Call us at 1-866-909-6894. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take your call. Our No Fee Guarantee® means there is nothing to pay unless we win your case.