Pain and suffering, both emotional and physical, are common following a car accident. However, unlike medical bills or property damage, it can be challenging to quantify and acquire compensation.
Following an accident, you should be compensated for both economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easily measured and include lost wages and medical treatment. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are designed to compensate for things such as mental anguish and loss of enjoyment. There are no objective measures to calculate this, and it can be difficult to claim.
An experienced car accident attorney can examine the details of your claim and help you to determine if you are entitled to pain and suffering damages. The Law Place is a law firm made up of skilled attorneys with a wealth of experience dealing with car accident claims in Florida. We are available 24 hours a day so that we can be here for you when you need us most. Contact us today on 941-444-4444 to schedule a free consultation.
What is the Definition of Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering are defined as mental and physical anguish caused by a road accident. This could include discomfort caused by aches and pains as well as any temporary or permanent restrictions on activity. For example, if you have been left unable to exercise or take care of your family.
Pain and suffering also includes mental suffering such as embarrassment or trauma caused by scaring or memories of the accident. If you are struggling to deal with trauma after an accident then you may be able to find support from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
It can be difficult to fight for compensation for your pain and suffering. A car accident attorney can help you to fight for what you deserve from insurance companies or if your injuries are severe then they can help you to file a lawsuit.
Damages for pain and suffering are referred to as general damages or non-economic damages.
For a free legal consultation with a pain and suffering lawyer serving Florida, call 941-444-4444
The Different Types of Damages in Florida
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of damages to consider following a car accident in Florida.
Economic: Also referred to as special damages refer to concrete costs of injury such as lost income and medical expenses.
Non-economic damages: Also referred to as general damages are more abstract. They include pain and suffering caused by the accident including past, present, and future anguish. Examples could be a loss of enjoyment of life, severe pain, insomnia, and depression.
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The No-Fault Insurance laws in Florida
In accordance with Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state, which means that your own insurance company covers most damages whether or not you were at fault.
According to Florida Statute 627.736, Florida law requires all drivers to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP), in addition to $10,000 in liability insurance for property damage.
However, your insurance is only required to pay 80 percent of your medical bills up to your PIP limit and 60 percent of your lost wages, leaving many people out of pocket.
This coverage should pay towards:
- Medical expenses related to your accident injuries such as hospital bills and transport to and from appointments.
- Disability benefits if you are unable to work due to injuries sustained in the accident.
- Death benefits to relatives if the car accident is fatal.
- Non-economic benefits to compensate for your pain and suffering.
The only situations where you can pursue additional compensation (more than the amount covered by PIP), is where your medical bills are greater than your insurance coverage, or you decide to file for pain and suffering damages through a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit can only be filed if your injuries meet the threshold.
According to Florida Statute 627, car accident victims can only pursue pain and suffering damages in a lawsuit if their injuries resulted in:
- Permanent injury.
- Significant loss of function.
- Disfigurement or permanent scars.
If your injuries fall into any of these categories, then you should be able to pursue pain and suffering damages in court. However, in order to file a lawsuit, you must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. This requires proving that:
- The at-fault part’s actions were the cause of your injuries.
- The at-fault party was negligent, reckless, or careless.
- Your injuries have resulted in pain and suffering.
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How to Prove You Meet the Injury Threshold
In order to prove that you meet the injury threshold, your lawyer will gather evidence that your injuries led to pain and suffering. For example:
- Photos of your injuries.
- Medical records.
- Prescription records.
- Expert testimony from doctors.
- Employer documents detailing how much work you missed because of the accident.
- Your testimony.
- Testimony from family and friends illustrating how it has impacted you and them.
- A personal journal detailing how your injuries have impacted your daily life.
- Accident reconstruction from experts.
This is also the kind of evidence that you can bring to your insurance company to claim for pain and suffering damages.
How Much Compensation Could You Expect to Receive for Your Pain and Suffering in Florida?
As previously stated, pain and suffering are not easily quantified, and according to Florida Supreme Court there is no exact method for determining how much compensation you deserve. However, a jury could look at the following elements:
- The extent of your medical treatment.
- How severe your injuries are.
- How the injuries impact your life.
- Pain and discomfort as a result of your injuries.
- How long it will take for your injuries to heal.
- If your injury will require future treatment.
Two methods are commonly used to calculate pain and suffering damages. They are the multiplier method and the Per Diem Method.
This method involves using quantifiable damages such as lost wages, property damage, and medical expenses and multiplying them by a number between one and five. The number used will depend upon the severity of your injuries and if you are still recovering from them.
For example, if your medical bills were $5,000 and you lost $1000 from being off work, your total cost is $6,000. If you use three as a multiplier because you suffered broken bones and were prevented from caring for your children, then the sum would be $6,000 x 3 to total $18,000 for your pain and suffering.
Permanent injuries such as paralysis or brain injury may use a multiplier of five or higher.
Pier Diem Method
Pier Diem translates to per day, and it gives a monetary figure to each day that you suffered as a result of your injuries. It is common for people to use their daily income as a figure for their calculation. However, you must give a reason to the court as to why you chose this figure to compensate for your pain and suffering. If you have a long-term injury, you may not want to use this method.
When it comes to paying you for your pain and suffering, your insurance company may take a lot of factors into account. For example, they could consider treatment by a doctor to be more serious then injuries treated by a chiropractor.
Insurance companies are in no obligation to use the above methods to calculate pain and suffering. Many use different approaches, such as computer programs that take in all of the above factors. Many also take previous cases into account. For example, if they awarded someone $8000 in the past for a slipped disc, then they may decide to pay the same amount to you. However, each case is unique, and you should fight against this if you feel that the amount offered is insufficient.
Is There a Limit to Pain and Suffering Damages I can Receive in Florida?
While some jurisdictions impose limits on pain and suffering damages, negligence laws in Florida do not usually limit the amount of money you could expect to receive from a personal injury or wrongful death. However, there is a limit of $200,000 for claims against local and state governments.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Pure comparative negligence laws in Florida may also affect the amount of money you receive in pain and suffering damages.
Apportioning fault is one of the most important and yet challenging factors following a car accident in Florida. Florida operates under pure comparative negligence, which means that in a lawsuit, your damages will be limited to the amount you were at fault. For example, if you were deemed to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, then the amount of compensation you will receive will be decreased by 20 percent. In other words, you will only receive 70 percent of what your claim is worth.
Because multiple people can be found to be at fault, your case will likely involve more than one insurance company. Whatever you say to the other driver’s insurance company could be used against you. The goal of insurance companies is always to pay out as little as possible, and they have trained lawyers working for them. That is why it is so important to work with a qualified lawyer yourself. They will guide you through the process and help you deal with insurance companies and the court system.
How can a Personal Injury Lawyer Increase the Amount Awarded for Your Pain and Suffering?
You must receive a fair amount for your pain and suffering, but this is one of the most complex issues in your personal injury case. A lawyer will help to gather evidence such as witness statements and medical records in order to justify the amount you claim in pain and suffering.
We have years of experience handling pain and suffering damages. We will work with you to speak to insurance companies and guide you through the court process. We know how insurance companies think and act and will ensure that you are not taken advantage of. We review every detail of your case and ensure you have the best possible representation.
The Law Place
There is no objective way to calculate damages for pain and suffering. Therefore, the amount can vary widely. The best way to fight for what you deserve is by using an experienced personal injury lawyer.
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of combined experience. We work throughout Florida and have an excellent knowledge of road accident claims and the intricacies of pain and suffering damages. Contact us today on 941-444-4444 for a free, no-obligation consultation.