When you receive a personal injury settlement for your auto accident injuries, there are three main areas of reimbursement: medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While medical bills and lost wages are fairly easy to calculate, pain and suffering damages are a bit more complicated.
What Does Pain and Suffering Involve?
Pain and suffering compensation is intended to provide financial reimbursement for the impact an accident has on your life. This includes:
- The physical pain associated with your injuries
- Accident-related anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
- The inconvenience of being injured and unable to engage in your daily activities
- The strain your recovery places on relationships with loved ones such as your spouse and children
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?
Obviously, pain and suffering is a subjective concept. To attempt to fairly compensate injured victims, cases will generally use either a multiplier method or a daily rate method.
When evaluating pain and suffering under the multiplier method, begin by looking at your medical bills. The total cost of your treatment, including surgery, follow-up care, medications, and any necessary physical therapy, can be multiplied by a number between one and five. Permanent and severe injuries such as the loss of a limb or the loss of your eyesight receive the highest multipliers. Temporary injuries that are expected to heal fully such as a broken leg receive lower multipliers.
When evaluating pain and suffering under the daily rate method, you receive a set amount for each day that you're injured. The daily rate is usually based on what you'd earn if you were able to work a full day. For example, if you normally earned $200 per day at your job and were unable to work for four months (120 days), you might argue in favor of $24,000 in pain and suffering compensation.
If you're not sure which method is best to use for your case, you can estimate your pain and suffering award using both the multiplier and daily rate approach and compare the results. Your attorney can also help you determine what is reasonable based on cases with injuries that were similar to yours.
Does Louisiana Have Caps on Pain and Suffering Awards?
Pain and suffering awards are classified as non-economic damages. As such, many states have strict limits on how much a plaintiff can receive. However, Louisiana does not cap pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases involving car accidents. There is only a cap for medical malpractice cases, which is currently set at $500,000.
What Happens If You're Partially at Fault for the Accident?
In many cases, both drivers in an accident are found partially liable. Louisiana law allows drivers who are partially at fault for an accident to still collect reimbursement for their damages. Their settlements are simply reduced by the assigned percentage of fault.
For example, consider an accident in which one driver was speeding and the other ran a red light. The speeding driver might be found 60 percent at fault, and the driver who ran a red light might be found 40 percent at fault. If the driver who ran a red light has $20,000 in damages, he's only eligible to collect 60 percent of that amount or $12,000—the original $20,000 minus his 40 percent of assigned fault.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Pain and suffering awards are open to negotiation, which is why it's crucial to have a skilled personal injury attorney working on your behalf. The insurance company will want to settle the case for the lowest possible amount, so you'll receive less than you deserve unless you have an advocate in your corner.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault has extensive experience helping Louisiana residents receive a fair settlement for their auto accident injuries. Call 318-541-8188, or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.