Accident injury attorneys from The Burkett Law Firm understand how an unexpected accident caused by another party’s careless actions or negligence can be life-changing. We also understand that filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party can help you recover damages for your injuries and losses.
The types of damages you can potentially recover after an accident include medical bills, lost income, damage to your property, and pain and suffering. While most of the losses on the list are easy to calculate based on tangible evidence, pain and suffering is more challenging.
There’s no bill or receipt for pain and suffering. Instead, a different method to determine the value of this is used in Texas accident cases.
Pain and Suffering Defined
In accident cases, pain and suffering is damages that are offered for those injured by another party’s negligence. It’s designed to provide compensation for the long-term effects of the accident and injuries on the victim’s life.
Types of Pain and Suffering Damages You Can Receive
In most personal injury cases, there are two types of damages that fall under the pain and suffering umbrella. These include physical and mental.
Physical Pain and Suffering
Experiencing a serious injury because of an accident can be painful and even debilitating. Some victims will experience chronic pain and discomfort for years. They may also experience reduced mobility for the rest of their life after the accident. Because of these issues and limitations, they may be unable to perform normal tasks or engage in favorite hobbies and activities.
Mental Pain and Suffering
Some accident victims experience psychological complications after experiencing an injury. Some of the most common types of mental injuries that accident victims suffer include:
- Loss of enjoyment
- Lack of energy
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder
All these issues can make dealing with daily life challenging.
In most cases, the more severe your injury is, the more your pain and suffering award will be.
The Multiplier Method for Determining Pain and Suffering in Texas Accident Claims
In Texas, a common method used to calculate pain and suffering damages is the multiplier method. With this technique, your economic damages are calculated first. This includes property damage, medical bills, and lost wages caused by your injuries. Once the total of this is found, then it will be multiplied by a set rate between 1.5 and five. The rate depends on how severe your injuries are.
An example of this would be economic damages of $20,000, and the jury or judge ruling on your personal injury case applies a multiplier of two to your pain and suffering damages. This means that you would receive $40,000 in pain and suffering. This means your total compensation would be $60,000.
Some of these factors are considered when a jury, judge, or insurance company determines the multiplier rate for your case:
- How severe your injuries are
- The age of your victim
- The impact your injuries have on your life
- Temporary vs. permanent injuries
- Level of disability
- Pre-existing conditions
- Total economic damages
- Nature of your disfigurement
If your case is assigned a multiplier of 1.5, then your injuries are considered minor. However, if a multiplier of five is applied, then it means your pain and suffering are more extreme.
The Per Diem Method for Determining Pain and Suffering in Texas Accident Claims
Another method to determine pain and suffering for an accident claim in Texas is the per diem method. With this method, a specific dollar amount is applied to each day you spend recovering from your injuries. Usually, the dollar amount that applies is what you would receive from your pay or salary for that day. Once the amount is determined, you get that amount every day until you reach a point of MMI (maximum medical improvement). For example, if you took 100 days to reach MMI and you made $200 per day on average, then your pain and suffering would be $20,000 in this situation.
Many juries prefer the per diem method for situations where the plaintiff has a set recovery date. For cases that involve permanent damage or long-term injuries, the multiplier method is the preferred option.
How Insurance Adjusters Value Pain and Suffering
You may wonder how insurance claims adjusters determine the value of pain and suffering if your case doesn’t go to trial. Many companies use different software programs to help with this calculation.
Software programs are used by most insurance companies today for minor injury claims. This especially applies to soft tissue injuries. Sometimes, the adjuster is prohibited from making a settlement offer that exceeds the recommended value of the software unless you provide additional information that alters the value of your case.
The software uses things like medical billing codes, injury codes, and other information to help the program calculate an acceptable settlement amount. Remember, insurance companies are going to try to reduce your medical costs as much as possible, and using the software is an effective way to reduce the settlement offer you receive.
Many of the software claims used will undervalue the general damages. This is why jury verdicts in personal injury cases are usually much higher. Most insurance adjusters rely on the fact that you aren’t familiar with the claims process, which means you won’t realize how low the offer they make is. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer will help eliminate this issue.
Factors That Can Impact Your Pain and Suffering Compensation
It’s important to remember that pain and suffering is a subjective value. Chances are you put a much higher value on your own pain because you must live with it every day and it’s extremely personal. When you take your case to court, the jury will look at many different factors when figuring out what multiplier or method (found above) to use. Some of the factors that are considered include:
- The nature and severity of your injuries
- How injuries impact your life right now
- How your injuries are likely to impact you in the future
- Your health and age before the accident
- Your income level before the accident
- How your injuries impact your family life
If you want to maximize your pain and suffering compensation, it is smart to create a journal where you write down how you feel each day and how your injuries are impacting your life. It’s going to make it easier when you prepare for a deposition if you take your case to trial.
There are some situations where Texas will cap general damages. This occurs in medical malpractice cases. There are also special situations that may involve malicious intent or cases of gross negligence that may be eligible to receive punitive damages. These are damages that the law in Texas caps, too, unless they were caused by someone committing a felony.
Don’t Wait to Call Accident Injury Attorneys for Help with Your Case
When it comes to your accident and injuries are the result, you have rights. One right is to recover compensation. You can contact our accident injury attorneys at The Burkett Law Firm to discuss your case and ensure you get the best representation possible. Our team will collect evidence on your behalf to help you build the best case possible. The first step is to get in touch with our legal team to schedule a free consultation.