Understanding your right to compensation for pain and suffering
In South Carolina, just like in so many other states, compensation covers the losses an injured person incurs following an accident. Economic damages are easier to calculate, as they include tangible losses such as lost wages and medical bills. However, putting a price tag on something less tangible like pain and suffering is more challenging.
Mental and physical pain and suffering are considered non-monetary or non-economic losses. In South Carolina, you may be awarded compensation for the emotional and physical discomfort you experience following an accident or injury, but calculating this burden can be difficult. What’s more, insurance companies often try to avoid paying compensation for intangible and non-economic losses.
What is “pain and suffering”?
Pain refers to the physical pain that you feel after an accident, while suffering refers to the psychological effects of the injuries from the accident. After an accident, you may feel depressed, anxious, stressed or have other emotional reactions that affect your quality of life. These psychological effects can be temporary or permanent and can affect your life in many ways.
Pain and suffering affect everyone differently. As such, in order to receive financial compensation for pain and suffering, you need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you qualify for such compensation. When you file a pain and suffering lawsuit in South Carolina, you’ll be expected to provide evidence that you’re experiencing pain and suffering and that it’s likely to continue in the future.
To prove this, you’ll need to show medical reports from licensed medical professionals. Physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists can diagnose and help quantify physical and mental trauma.
After your injury, you can also keep a daily log of how your pain affects you. You should record the severity of your pain and the activities you’ve missed due to your injury.
How to calculate pain and suffering in South Carolina
In order to calculate pain and suffering damages, several factors must be considered before awarding compensation. The judge and the jury will look at your unique financial and personal circumstances and then place a dollar value on your pain and suffering.
There is no single factor that has more weight than others. Some of the factors considered when awarding pain and suffering damages in South Carolina include:
- Age of the injured person
- Severity of the physical injuries
- Need for medical attention
- Health condition before the accident
- Duration of recovery
- Ways the accident impedes daily activities
- Ways the accident hinders their ability to enjoy time with family
For these factors to be considered, you’ll need expert witnesses, such as medical experts, to testify that your pain is legitimate. You can also bring lay witnesses, such as family members and friends, to testify about how your pain and suffering have impacted your life. These witnesses can reinforce the medical records you present as evidence.
How pain and suffering is calculated by insurance companies
Insurance companies have a pain and suffering calculator that uses either of 2 formulae. It will be up to your South Carolina personal injury attorney to compel the insurance company to pay the full compensation. The 2 methods are:
- Multiplier. A method in which total financial losses are added up and multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5.
- Per Diem. A method in which a dollar amount is awarded for each day of pain and suffering the injured person experiences.
Many people falsely believe they won’t be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering without going to trial, but this is often not the case. The truth is that most personal injury cases, including ones that involve pain and suffering compensation, are settled out of court through negotiations between an attorney and the insurance company.
By using the 2 established methods mentioned above, an experienced personal injury attorney will likely be able to negotiate a fair settlement without the hassle of going to court.
Compensation for partially at-fault victims
You can still seek compensation even when you’re partially at fault for your injury. According to South Carolina’s comparative negligence law, if you were 50 percent or less at fault, you can still get compensation.
In a car accident, for instance, you could get compensation equal to your losses multiplied by the percentage of fault for the other driver. This means that if your total losses were $100,000 and the other driver was 60 percent at fault, you could get $60,000 in compensation.
A lawyer can help you with a claim and will advise you about the best time to settle. They can help determine if you’re likely to recover more through settlement negotiations or by going to trial.
How much is your pain and suffering worth?
Calculating pain and suffering following an accident can be complicated. Insurance companies will try to pay you the least amount possible. An attorney can help navigate this process to make sure you get the maximum compensation you rightfully deserve.
If you’ve been injured in South Carolina, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Chappell, Chappell and Newman are here to help. Let us negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf so you can focus on getting better. Contact us today for your free consultation.