Can I Recover a Monetary Settlement for Pain and Suffering After a “Minor” Car Accident?
People who are injured in a car accident because of the negligence of another driver usually make an insurance claim or file an injury lawsuit seeking a financial settlement. The goal is to recover damages for both out-of-pocket expenses such as the cost of medical treatment and car repair or replacement as well as pain and suffering. Yes, even people injured in fairly minor crashes will typically have a pain and suffering component to their financial settlement. “Pain and suffering” is the physical and emotional pain or stress connected to the accident and the injuries caused by the accident. Even in serious collisions, proving pain and suffering and coming up with appropriate compensation can be a challenge but it is even more difficult for accidents that are considered minor.
How is pain and suffering calculated for minor car accidents?
Because pain and suffering is a bit of an intangible and there are no rules around how to calculate it, insurance companies rely on the severity of the injuries and various different methods to reach a number. “Minor” car accidents are usually associated with “minor” injuries such as whiplash so they are associated with smaller pain and suffering settlements.
Traditionally, the two most common methods to calculate pain and suffering were the multiplier method and the per diem method, though the multiplier method has gone out of common use in the last 10-30 years.
The multiplier method multiplies medical bills by a certain number. It used to be common for insurance adjusters to automatically multiply medical bills by 2 to come to a value. For example, if your medical bills were $5,000 they would be multiplied by 2 to get $10,000 plus $5,000 for medical bills for a total settlement of $15,000. Personal injury lawyers recognized this as a “low-ball” tactic and fought against it to secure their clients a fair settlement.
Right now, insurance adjusters look at the total amount of the medical bills to reach a settlement offer. They strongly differentiate by the type of the medical bill incurred. They put very little weight on chiropractic, massage therapy, and alternative forms of treatment, but rather focus on emergency room bills, primary care doctor expenses, imaging, specialist referrals, etc.
If you bear partial fault for the accident, there was no damage to the vehicle or if the injuries were minor, you can expect the insurance adjuster to reduce your pain and suffering offer.
The reality is that for many car accidents, this new method undervalues pain and suffering and the only way to get a reasonable settlement may be with the help of a car accident attorney.
The daily rate method is used by some insurance agencies and personal injury attorneys to place a value on pain and suffering. Under this method, an amount of money is assigned to each day or week that a person suffers from injury after a car accident. For example, if a person is in pain and receiving treatment for injuries incurred in a car accident for three months before they feel back to normal then a daily value of $200 might be assigned. $200 multiplied by 90 days is $18,000.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!