Contrary to what many people believe, accidents are mostly avoidable. This is because the major causes of car (and other auto-related) accidents are negligent driving and driving under the influence. Even the government knows this; and as a result, several laws are in place to ensure victims of these accidents are duly compensated.
However, auto accidents are not the only cause of accidents resulting in personal injury. Other examples include slip-and-fall accidents, medical malpractice, and even dog bites. The common thread among all these examples is that they happened because of someone else’s negligence and as a result, you can pursue compensation from the responsible party’s insurance company.
Be sure to check out our Ultimate list of personal injury questions for even more answers to all of your questions.
We also published an Atlanta accident map to determine where accidents, injuries, and fatalities are most common on Atlanta roads. Be sure to pay particular attention when you are driving, walking, or riding in these areas.
How Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim is Calculated and Settled
While there are many aspects that make up a successful personal injury claim, one of the major factors that determine the compensation amount (damages) is called “Pain and Suffering.”
Typically, compensation for a personal injury claim falls under two categories – economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are awarded for anything with a set dollar value to it. This includes lost wages, medical bills, property damage etc. These are easily calculated and present no real limitations to being awarded to the victim.
On the other hand, non-economic damages are much more difficult to assign a dollar-value, and as such, most victims are often shortchanged unless they have an experienced personal injury attorney representing them. A good attorney can help victims recover compensation for the pain and suffering the accident caused them regardless of how challenging that could be.
What Is Pain And Suffering And How Is It Calculated?
Although the definition of Pain and Suffering is vague, it can easily be defined as the physical and emotional damage experienced because of your injuries. These include:
- Physical pain resulting directly from the accident
- Emotional trauma such as insomnia, fear, depressed mood, and anxiety
Next, an attempt is made to assign a dollar value to that pain and the resulting psychological damage. This is where the issue arises for most victims.
However, the good news is that the law makes it possible to file an insurance claim for pain and suffering. The Georgia law that governs this subject is OCGA 9-10-184, and it says:
“In the trial of a civil action for personal injuries, counsel shall be allowed to argue the worth or monetary value of pain and suffering to the jury; provided, however, that any such argument shall conform to the evidence or reasonable deductions from the evidence in the case.”
According to the concluding part of the quote above, several factors must be taken into consideration before an amount can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. These factors include:
- The severity of the injuries sustained
- The overall pain and discomfort associated with those types of injuries
- How those injuries have affected your life, job, relationships, etc.
- The amount and types of medical treatment those injuries require and the associated costs
- The effect of those injuries on the victim’s Family Members
- How long those injuries took to heal, and if there will be further needed for future care – including therapy, medications, surgeries, etc.
Once all these factors have been considered, the insurance adjusters or the jurors (if the case does to trial) will award a reasonable and fair amount of money to the victim. Note, however, that Georgia does not have any statutory limit on pain and suffering damages, meaning there is no limit to the amount of reasonable compensation I can help you recover.
The Methods Used in Calculating Pain and Suffering
To reiterate, there is no standard way to calculate the actual costs of pain and suffering because it is purely subjective no matter how you look at it. Nevertheless, some common methods used by most insurance companies and injury attorneys include:
- Multiplier Method: This method works by multiplying the total medical bills related to the injuries by a number from 1.5 (for minor injuries) to 5 (for severe injuries) to find the actual pain and suffering amount. This is based on the idea that your pain and suffering (non-economic) is worth at least 1.5 times the economic cost of fixing that injury.
- Per Diem Method: This method works a bit differently from the multiplier method discussed above. Instead of multiplying the medical bills based on the amount of perceived pain, the Per Diem method calculates daily pain suffering. The word ‘Per diem’ is Latin for “by the day” and it works by assigning a dollar value to each day the victim remains incapacitated from the time of the accident till when he or she reaches maximum medical improvement.
Generally, the more severe the injuries sustained are, the greater the amount of compensation to be expected in the settlement. The most important thing is to be able to prove with substantial evidence that the victim suffered significant pain and suffering.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering To the Court or To the Insurance Company
Proving to the jury or to insurance adjusters the extent of your pain and suffering is one of the most difficult parts of any personal injury case. Proving pain and suffering is more than just describing it, it must be demonstrated. Listed below are a few documents you can use to do just that:
- Medical reports from the doctor
- Prescription receipts from the hospital
- Over-the-counter medication receipts
- Medical bills, if applicable, for therapy, ambulance costs, x-rays, emergency room visits etc.
- Proof of lost wages
- Photos of your injuries, and
- Psychological evaluation
These documents will definitely help in proving pain and emotional suffering in court and thus getting you the settlement you deserve.
However, even the most ironclad evidence can be overplayed if the attorney lacks experience. Hence, why it is important to ensure you hire a personal injury attorney with experience in Georgia personal injury law and who understands all that goes into winning cases.
For a free case evaluation, call or contact me today. I will personally offer you a no-strings-attached consultation to discuss the details of your case.