Pain and Suffering Damages Available After a Car Accident

After a car accident, you may be wondering about your legal options. Learning more about how compensation for injuries after a car accident will be calculated can help you protect yourself and your legal claim. Estimating car accident damages like lost wages and medical expenses can be relatively straightforward and practical. 

However, other types of damages, such as your pain and suffering, are more challenging to calculate. There is no fixed formula for calculating a reasonable number of damages for pain and suffering. Instead, a judge and jury must use their common sense to evaluate a car accident's impact on a personal injury victim.

The Formula for Calculating Economic Damages After a Car Accident

There are two main categories for compensation after a car accident – economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damage is also called compensable damages. These damages refer to losses that can be quantified with a number. Some attorneys refer to these as the "board" of whole numbers because they can be written on a marker board for a jury. For example, if you have $10,000 in medical bills and lost $2,000 in wages from the time you could not work, your economic damages would be $12,000. If you have additional property damage, that would also be included in your monetary damages.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Economic damages are easier to quantify, but they do not tell the whole story of how a collision has affected a victim's life. Many of the effects of a car accident cannot be limited to medical bills or lost wages. For many people, the most severe effects of a car accident are the pain and suffering they experience after the accident. Pain and suffering damages include the physical and emotional trauma caused to the victim of a car accident. Pain and suffering can consist of:

  • Physical discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis or loss of range of motion
  • Anxiety
  • Distress
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Sleep disturbances
  • PTSD
  • Humiliation

In other words, psychological, physical, and emotional impacts that diminish a person's quality of life can be compensated in a car accident lawsuit in North Carolina. Assigning a monetary figure to non-economic damages can be challenging, which is why car accident victims should work with an attorney who can help them calculate the amount of damages that is fair and reflects all of the pain and suffering they have endured.

Calculating Pain and Suffering With Multipliers

North Carolina juries are given instructions to calculate damages for pain and suffering in car accidents and other personal injury cases. First, they can determine the total fair compensation amount by applying logic and common sense to the evidence presented in the case. The second method is the "per diem" model, in which damages are calculated per day. The per diem method is typically used for permanent injuries.

In our experience, multipliers are not frequently used by judges, adjusters, or juries in North Carolina. Instead, pain and suffering calculations are made on a case-by-case basis. These calculations are individual to a person and have little relationship with how much a doctor has billed you for your doctor's visit. 

An experienced attorney will be able to go through your medical records in a detailed manner, documenting how your injuries affect your day-to-day living activities and ability to earn an income. For example, if you can no longer play with your kids, go fishing, exercise, or help with household chores, these are examples of how your injuries have negatively affected your life. All of these considerations should be part of your pain and suffering calculations.

Are There Limits on Pain and Suffering Compensation in North Carolina?

No, North Carolina does not limit the amount of pain and suffering damages a plaintiff can obtain, except in medical malpractice cases. In 2011, the legislature enacted a $500,000 cap on non-economic Damages when suing a medical center, doctor, or hospital. In car accident cases, there is no limit on the amount of non-economic damages a person can obtain. Typically, the more severe the injuries, the more compensation will be awarded for pain and suffering.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a North Carolina car accident, it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about your legal options.

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