Pain & Suffering and Average Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Car accidents are unplanned and can turn your life upside down. After a car accident, it’s important to hire an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure you maximize the value of your car accident claim.
The insurance companies once released a report reflecting that accident victims who hire a personal injury lawyer, generally receive 3x more for their car accident claims compared to those who try to handle their car accident claims on their own. Auto insurance companies will tell you if you hire a personal injury lawyer, your claim will be prolonged or settlement delayed. The reason this may be true is because rather than accepting the insurance companies first low-ball offer, your injury attorney will wait for you to get the treatment needed before we move to settlement discussions. The worst thing you can do is prematurely settle your injury claim.
If you were in a car accident and suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages for your car accident claim settlement. Before you speak to the insurance company, contact Weber Law Firm today to speak to an experienced New Port Richey Car Accident Lawyer. Consultations are free and we will maximize your car accident settlement.
Average Personal Injury Car Accident Settlement Amount in 2021
According to ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® business, the average car accident settlement amount in 2021 was $22,734.00.
Personal injury claim settlements include economic and non-economic damages and vary based on many factors. When a personal injury settlement is paid out, it’s paid in a lump sum and is not itemized out. Settlement values are not consistent, and vary from case to case.
Ultimately the amount of your car accident settlement depends heavily on the amount of insurance coverage available to go after for your car accident claim. The most important question is how much insurance coverage is there to compensate you for you car accident claim, rather than how much is my personal injury claim worth?
Auto Insurance Coverage Required in Florida
Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury (BI) liability coverage. This is coverage that will compensate others when you are at-fault for a car accident and injure another party. The minimum insurance required to be legal in the State of Florida is:
- A minimum of $10,000 in property damage coverage; and
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
I repeat, Florida does NOT require drivers to carry bodily injury (BI) coverage. So it is VERY important you protect yourself and carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage on your auto policy. If someone hits you and they do not have BI coverage and you do not have UM coverage, there will not be any coverage to go after for pain and suffering, medical bills, etc.
According to the Insurance Research Council, in 2019 more than 20% of Florida drivers were uninsured. Meaning they did not have an active auto insurance policy.
This means that if you do not adequately protect yourself, you may find yourself in a world of hurt after an auto accident and with unpaid medical bills.
What are Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?
Economic damages are are your monetary losses directly related to the accident. They are objective and easily calculated/proven with medical bills, receipts, etc.
The following are some examples of economic damages:
- Unpaid medical bills;
- Wage loss, earnings you lost while you were off work because of the accident;
- Future earnings, lost earning capacity, when your injuries prevent you from returning to your job;
- Funeral expenses; and
- Damage to your property (personal or real property).
What are Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?
Non-economic damages are intangible losses and they can be difficult to quantify because they are subjective. Unlike economic damages, there are no receipts, medical bills, etc. used to calculate non-economic damages.
The following are some examples of non-economic damages:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of consortium (companionship, sexual relationship with your spouse); and
- Loss of use of a limb.
Proving You Suffered a Permanent Injury
You May Need to Prove a Permanent Injury to Receive a Payout for Pain and Suffering
In Florida, in any action of tort brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a motor vehicle, in order to receive a payout for pain and suffering, the plaintiff has the burden of proving they suffered a permanent injury. This is often referred to as the permanent injury threshold.
What You Need to Prove to Recover for Pain and Suffering Damages
Pursuant to § 627.737, Fla. Stat. (2022), a plaintiff MAY recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease only IF the plaintiff can prove they suffered:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function. OR
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement. OR
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement. OR
How Do You Prove You Suffered a Permanent Injury for a Car Accident Injury?
Your doctor treating you for your injuries is in the best position to determine if you have sustained a permanent injury. Through your medical records and/or expert testimony, your treating doctor can determine within a reasonable degree of medical probability whether you suffered a permanent injury as a result of your car accident injury.
Not All Accidents Require the Plaintiff to Meet the Permanency Threshold
But not in all circumstances does the plaintiff need to prove a permanent injury. This permanency threshold is only applicable when you and/or the at-fault party were in motor vehicles at the time of the accident. Victims injured while on motorcycles, passengers in Uber vehicles or a taxi and in other circumstances do not have to prove they suffered a permanent injury.
What are Examples of Pain and Suffering Damages?
Pain and suffering damages can be both physical and emotional. Physical pain and suffering involves damages to your body, such as your injuries, scarring, disfigurement, the painful procedures you subjected yourself to in attempt to get better. Emotional pain and suffering may impact you in a variety of ways. After a car accident, you may suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium or affection, nightmares, or inability to sleep.
It is very common for people to realize the emotional impact after a car accident. Accident victims will often be fearful of driving or refuse to ride in a vehicle. They’re also more alert of the vehicles around them, anxious and fearful that every vehicle approaching them is going to make impact. Others often have difficulty sleeping because they find themselves reliving the accident and the aftermath.
How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated for a Car Accident Settlement?
Pain and suffering damages can be calculated using a a per-diem rate or the multiplier method.
Per Diem Rate
The per diem rate takes a subjective amount based on your injuries and recovery, then multiplies it by the number of days your recovery will take and if ongoing calculate it based on your anticipated life expectancy. Mortality tables are used to determine your anticipated life expectancy.
The multiplier method of measuring your pain and symptoms is typically used. Determining what multiplier to used depends on various factors. Insurance companies are reluctant to include or often offer very little for pain and suffering. This is why it’s important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.
Determining Multiplier to Use for Calculating Pain & Suffering
Generally, the multiplier ranges from 1.5 – 5 based on the severity of your injuries and specifics of your case. A Florida jury will consider various factors that affect the value, but they will typically consider:
- Age of the injured victim
- Pre-existing conditions
- Severity of injuries
- Past & future pain and suffering
- Impact on quality of life
- Loss of consortium/affection
Typical Multipliers for Car Accident Injury Claims
Multiplier Injury Type
1.5 – 3 Minor Injuries (soft tissue, such as strains, sprains, whiplash, bulges, etc.)
5 More Severe Injuries (herniations, broken bones, etc.)
6+. Catastrophic Injuries (brain injuries, loss of bodily function, scarring, death,
Note: Emotional distress is separate from pain and suffering, but it’s included in the multiplier.
Settlement Formula – Calculating Value of Your Car Accident Settlement Using the Multiplier Method for Pain and Suffering
The settlement formula you can use to calculate the value of your car accident claim settlement is an estimate and does not guarantee the auto insurance company will offer you this amount. Again it depends on your injuries, facts of your case and how much insurance coverage is available.
Settlement Formula: Pain and Suffering Multiplier * Medical Expenses + Loss of Income = Injury Settlement Value
To calculate the general value of an auto accident claim settlement, complete the steps below. Remember no two cases are alike and damages vary. This is a general calculation for Personal Injury Settlement Amounts. This formula could be used to calculate a typical car accident settlement.
Step #1 – Determine Totals for Past & Future Medical Expenses + Liens
Add the following items:
- Medical Expenses (Past & Future)
- Past Medical Expenses (these are the medical expenses you incurred for accident-related treatment. Include anything you paid out of pocket + the remaining balance of your medical bills. Review your medical bills.)
- Future medical expenses (what medical treatment will you need in the future)
- Your treating physician can usually estimate a number or provide probability for future surgical recommendations.
- Liens (amounts that must be repaid to health insurance, med pay liens, etc.)
NOTE: Medical expenses include:
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Durable medical equipment (i.e., braces, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.)
- Chiropractic care
- Orthopedic care
- Other medical treatment (hospital visits, x-rays, lab tests, ambulances, MRIs, etc.)
Step #2 – Calculate Past & Future Wage Loss
Calculate past and future lost wages.
- Past & Future Wage Loss
- Past wages are missed earnings due to your injury. This includes missed opportunities such as job offers, freelance work, etc.
- Future earnings occur when you are no longer able to work, decrease in earnings, etc.
Step #3 – Calculate Your Injury Settlement with the Pain and Suffering Multiplier Determined Above
Pain and Suffering Multiplier * Medical Expenses + Loss of Income = Injury Settlement
Step #4 – Reduce Injury Settlement (if applicable)
IF you were at-fault for the accident in any way, reduce the total you calculated by the percentage of fault that has been apportioned to you. For example, if you were 25% at-fault for the accident, reduce your total injury settlement by 25%.
Also, if you were not wearing your seatbelt, your damages may be reduced to the extent that any of injuries could have been avoided if you were wearing your seatbelt.
If you were wearing your seatbelt and not at-fault, do not reduce your damages.
How long do most car accident settlements take?
It could be as long as three months or more before a car accident case settles. Some claims take 6-months or longer. It ultimately depends on you and your injuries. The last thing an accident victim wants to do is settle their car accident claim too soon. An investigation of your case is very important; depending upon your injuries and the treatment you need to get back to baseline can significantly impact the settlement process.
At Weber Law Firm we tell our clients you only get one bite at the apple, if you rush your claim and settle, there’s no re-opening your claim if you decide to get more treatment later on down the road.
Contact Weber Law Firm Today
If you have been injured in an auto accident, call 727-297-2032 or complete our online contact form to schedule a FREE consultation with Weber Law Firm’s experienced, Pasco County car wreck lawyer, Lauren N. Weber. Consultations are free and we do not get paid any fees or costs unless we win.