Florida law allows for the victim of a car accident who suffered (a) a significant and permanent injury, (b) an injury that is likely to result in permanent injuries, or (c) death to recover damages for “pain and suffering.” In summary, you are entitled to recover for pain and suffering if you can prove that your injuries are permanent. Some examples of injuries that may qualify as “significant and permanent injuries” include broken bones, concussions, spine injuries, nerve damage, internal organ damage, and paralysis, among many others.
Damages for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Case
There is simply no objective way to calculate the “value” of a person’s emotional anguish or physical agony in the same way a person might be reimbursed for a hospital bill or the number of work days missed. Courts must therefore analyze a variety of factors to arrive at what they believe are “fair” amounts.
These factors include:
- How serious is the injury?
- How does it impact the plaintiff’s ability to perform basic tasks like getting out of bed, cooking their own meals, driving their children to school, etc.?
- Does it impact their feeling of self-worth? Are they able to fulfill the roles and positions they once did?
- Have they lost joy in life as a result of the injury? Even if they make significant progress, they may never get back to where they were before the accident.
To truly and accurately calculate a plaintiff’s pain and suffering, the insurance adjuster or juror must sense the negative impact the accident has had on the plaintiff’s daily life. An accident victim’s attorney must present evidence of the changes in their life as naturally and convincingly as possible. The best methods for presenting evidence can depend on the stage of the claim, but will generally include medical records, as well as video and testimonial evidence.
Video can be a very powerful tool for humanizing the struggles of a plaintiff’s daily life. It can bring the plaintiff’s new normal to life by allowing the jury and insurance adjusters to “walk a mile” in the plaintiff’s shoes.
Testimony or statements from people who knew the plaintiff before the accident can effectively show how the plaintiff changed as a result of the accident. Close family members, friends, and neighbors are all parties capable of providing valuable testimony in a case. For example, a former tennis partner can talk about how she misses playing with her former partner every Thursday morning. To be effective, your attorney will need to present different stories from multiple witnesses.
How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?
Calculating the amount of damages that a victim may recover for “pain and suffering” is an inexact science. There is no court approved formula. Compensation for pain and suffering goes beyond the cost of medical expenses and there is no “bill” available to tell us its value. However, there are several methods can be utilized to help calculate damages for pain and suffering. These methods include:
- The “multiplier method”;
- A per diem approach; and
- Alternative methods involving algorithms
Each of these methods considers the specific facts of the case to arrive at a monetary value for “pain and suffering.” These factors include the severity of the injuries, the age of the injured person, and their impact on the plaintiff’s daily life.
The “multiplier method” attempts to approximate pain and suffering by applying a multiplier to an objectively determined value. This objective starting point might be the amount of wages lost by the plaintiff, or the medical expenses incurred, which would then be multiplied by a multiplier. The multiplier is determined by evaluating the level of pain and suffering endured, or other factors. Typically, the multiplier is between 1.5 and 5. (See Here for further explanation).
Per Diem Approach
The per diem approach assigns a daily value to the pain and suffering and then multiplies that amount by the number of days that the pain and suffering was or will be endured.
Lastly, algorithms are occasionally employed to account for as many relevant factors as possible and to weigh them appropriately. While not always a popular approach, it is likely that future calculations will rely increasingly on the power of algorithms. Many auto insurance carriers use sophisticated algorithms to calculate the pain and suffering component or a personal injury settlement.
Unlike some other states, Florida does not have statutory limits to the amount of damages that a plaintiff may receive for pain and suffering in a car accident case. This is significant, because nationally, pain and suffering awards make up approximately fifty percent of the total awards in certain areas of personal injury law.
Are you Entitled to Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
You may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical care expenses, and other losses that you have sustained because of your car crash injuries. However, the insurance company you are fighting against will likely attempt to deny liability, extend unfair settlement offers, or use other tactics to reduce the compensation you receive. For a free consultation about how to seek compensation for a car accident injury in Miami, contact Prosper Shaked Injury Accident Attorneys PA online, or call today at (305) 694-2676.