What Is Considered Pain and Suffering From a Car Crash?
The meaning of “pain and suffering” may seem obvious, but this phrase has a specific legal definition in the context of a personal injury case. Your pain and suffering refer to the physical and emotional discomfort you endure as a direct result of the accident and your accident-related injuries.
Common elements in a pain and suffering car crash claim include:
- Physical pain – The unpleasant and distressing physical sensations you experience as you sustain and live with crash-related physical injuries
- Psychological suffering – The mental and emotional anguish you endure due to your physical injuries, personal limitations, or other crash-related losses
- Post-traumatic stress – A psychological consequence of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or a loved one’s death
For some accident survivors, otherwise normal post-traumatic stress lingers and begins to interfere with daily life, at which point it may reach the level of an actual disorder — PTSD. Common symptoms of accident-related PTSD include nightmares, new anxieties or phobias surrounding car travel, and intrusive thoughts or memories about the wreck.
In the context of a personal injury case, the term “damages” refers to the money you might recover for certain accident-related losses. So, the pain and suffering damages in your injury claim simply refer to the amount of money you get as compensation for your pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are an example of “non-economic” or “general damages,” which is the type of compensation injury victims receive for subjective losses without a specific dollar value. In contrast, “economic damages” refer to the compensation for objective, measurable losses, such as your medical bills, lost wages, and repairs.
You can prove pain and suffering for an injury claim with the following types of evidence:
- Medical records – Your doctor cannot measure your pain or suffering, but they can record self-reported symptoms in your medical records. When you visit your doctor, don’t be shy about describing your symptoms in detail, so the information ends up in your official medical history.
- Journal entries – Consistent notes in a journal can support your pain and suffering claim. You can simply record daily observations about your condition, such as the level of pain you feel and the nature of any limitations you experience due to your crash-related injuries.
- Witness statements – Family members and close friends who have watched your recovery can also provide useful evidence in the form of witness testimony. Reliable witnesses can offer details about things like household tasks you struggle to complete or changes in your overall mood since the accident.
Statute of Limitations for Pain and Suffering Lawsuits in North Carolina
North Carolina has a statute of limitations for legal actions, which sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Under North Carolina General Statutes § 1-52, you have just three years to file a personal injury lawsuit, which is the type of lawsuit you would file when seeking pain and suffering damages after a car wreck.
This three-year window begins on the date when you first sustained the injury in question, which means you have only three years from the day of the accident to sue. For an accident leading to death, you have two years from the date of the death or three years from the accident, whichever comes first.
If you wait too long, you could lose your right to demand compensation. One of a North Carolina injury lawyer’s most critical jobs is managing this timeline so you don’t lose out on the money you are owed due to preventable filing mistakes.
How Does an Insurance Company Calculate Pain and Suffering?
When insurance companies calculate pain and suffering damages after a car accident, they could use the following methods:
- The multiplier method – With the multiplier method, the insurance company calculates pain and suffering damages by adding up crash-related medical bills and monetary losses, then multiplying the sum by a second number called a multiplier to arrive at a final figure. For less serious injuries, the multiplier might be 1.5 or 2, while for life-altering injuries, the multiplier could be 4, 5, or even more.
- The per diem method – With the per diem or “per day” method, the insurance company assigns a specific dollar value to each day you had to endure the pain and suffering of the accident, then multiplies that value by the number of days you were affected.
How to Take Back Control of Your Life After a Car Accident
There are specific steps you can take to resume the lifestyle you had before the car accident and seize control of your situation. These include:
- Sticking as closely to your usual daily routine as possible
- Eating a healthy diet
- Engaging in low-impact exercise
- Finding ways to relax and take part in activities that make you happy
- Turning to friends and family or finding a local group for support
- Speaking to a therapist if your symptoms become overwhelming
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Shelby
If you have been injured in a car accident in Shelby, NC, and someone else was at fault, you deserve fair compensation for your full range of losses. That includes the pain and suffering you have endured.