Pain and Suffering Damages for a Car Accident

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Pain and Suffering Damages for a Car Accident

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

“Pain and suffering” is a term that is used to describe non-economic damages. If you are in a car accident, you will likely experience more than just a financial problem. Personal injury victims often suffer from mental and emotional complications due to their accidents.

An insurance company may offer you a low settlement, not factoring in your pain and suffering. Many accident victims do not realize they are entitled to pain and suffering damages, allowing the insurance company to offer them “lowball” settlements.

If you have been involved in a car accident and are dealing with insurance negotiations, the attorneys at Malman Law are to answer any of your concerns.

What is Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Claim?

Although “pain and suffering” sounds purely subjective, it entails the inability of a person to lead a normal life due to mental and physical trauma. Pain and suffering may include anxiety, depression, emotional distress, mental anguish, and chronic pain. 

A car accident can cause a person bodily injury and distress. While bodily injury can easily be quantified through medical expenses and missed time from work, pain and suffering is an intangible concept. 

Illinois courts decided that an award for pain and suffering is appropriate when there is evidence of physical injury, as was established in Carter v. Azaran, 332 Ill. App. 3d 948, (1st Dist., 2002). Compensation for pain and suffering can also be requested when the victim is aware of his or her pain and suffering, as was established in Holston v. Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, 165 Ill. 2d 150 (1995). 

What are Non-economic Damages?

Pain and suffering is a form of non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are those losses that are intangible but do negatively affect the victim’s quality of life. Non-economic damages are also known as general damages because these losses do not have a specific price tag but come from an injury caused by another’s negligence.

At Malman Law, we use the multiplier method to calculate non-economic damages. It involves assigning a number to the severity of your injury based on a scale from 1 to 5. Based on this number, we multiply it by your total economic damages to determine your non-economic losses. (Economic damages are expenses or financial losses you suffered due to your car accident. These damages are easily quantifiable and take money out of your pocket, such as medical bills and lost wages).

An example of the multiplier method may look like this:

[$75,000 of medical expenses] + [$15,000 of lost wages] + [$20,000 of vehicle repairs] = $110,000 total economic damages

[$110,000 total economic damages X [4 multiplier] = $440,000 pain and suffering damages

This is a popular method used by insurance companies in personal injury claims, but unlike an insurance adjuster, we will take the time to factor in all of your economic damages before coming to a final figure.

What Type of Evidence will I Need to Prove Pain and Suffering?

In a recent year, there were 5.4 million people who consulted physicians or other medical personnel for their injuries in motor vehicle crashes, accounting for 3.140 billion miles traveled in the United States. With such alarming statistics, insurance companies always strive to pay as little as possible on accident claims. 

You may wonder what evidence you will need to prove pain and suffering. As previously mentioned, pain and suffering damages will only be awarded when there is evidence of a physical injury. 

This means that the accident victim will have economic damages, which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical visit receipts
  • Prescription medication receipts
  • Medical equipment receipts
  • Documentation of lost wages
  • Vehicle repair receipts

A car accident attorney will be able to assist you in gathering this documentation. At Malman Law, we have the experience and skills to obtain information that may not be easily accessible.

Pain and Suffering Damages in an Insurance Settlement

An insurance company will likely offer you an initial settlement offer that is only about 40% of what your case is worth. This is because insurance companies are in the business of making money. They pad their bottom line by charging expensive premiums and paying out the bare minimum on claims.

It will be difficult for your attorney to calculate pain and suffering damages until you determine the full cost of your medical expenses. In any accident, your medical bills may be ongoing. This will especially be true if you have suffered any long-term disabilities. Since you will likely require continuing medical care, it may be almost impossible to determine your bodily injury claim amount. 

Medical imaging can show an insurance company any nerve or spinal cord injuries you sustained. Any other supporting evidence, such as medical notes from your primary care doctor or specialists, can help demonstrate the pain and suffering you experienced from the accident.

Is There a Limit on Pain and Suffering Damages?

A damage cap places a statutory limit on how much a plaintiff can recover from a defendant. Eleven states currently have a damage cap on personal injury and general tort cases. 

Thankfully, Illinois has no limitation on how much compensation a claimant can receive for pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case.

How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help?

A car accident attorney has experience dealing with insurance adjusters. If you lack legal representation, you may take a low settlement offer. Personal injury lawyers have trusted tactics in negotiating with an insurance carrier. Allowing your attorney to speak on your behalf will give you the best chance of receiving fair compensation.

A personal injury attorney is not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. Personal injury attorneys are well-acquainted with the court deadlines and will ensure that all court forms and paperwork are filed promptly.

Insurance companies usually avoid taking cases to court because there is a high likelihood that they will pay more money than if they settle your claim privately. 

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer 

At Malman Law, we believe providing clients with the best legal counsel requires an aggressive approach. If you have been hurt in a car accident, you need an attorney who will fight for the compensation you desperately need and deserve. 

By hiring us, you are telling the insurance company that you are not afraid to put up a fight. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. 

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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