Texas laws entitle car accident victims to compensation from the at-fault party for the injuries they sustained as well as any pain and suffering they may have experienced.
While deciding how much to award victims for medical bills and lost wages may be simple, calculating pain and suffering damages in Texas is a lot more complicated. In most cases, the defense team will try to downplay just how much pain the victims suffered in an effort to minimize the damages their client will be forced to pay.
However, it is important to acknowledge the importance of evaluating less-obvious injuries that car accident victims suffer, such as pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional distress, and mental anguish.
These types of damages, though difficult to evaluate, must nonetheless still be included as part of the personal injury claim. With the right lawyer fighting for them, car accident victims can get the compensation they deserve. They can also answer questions like How long can you sue after a car accident in Texas?
Understanding Pain and Suffering Damages
After being involved in a car accident, a victim's life may never be the same again. In most cases, their injuries go beyond broken bones, lacerations, head injuries, sprains, back injuries, or other types of injuries that are easy to see.
The term "pain and suffering" refers to the mental anguish, emotional distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder that a victim will experience after a car crash. It goes beyond the obvious physical pain because it affects the victim's life in different and often profound ways.
It is common for car crash victims to find it difficult to readjust to everyday life while suffering extreme cases of pain and suffering, such as those involving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There have been many cases where victims develop the fear of leaving the house or stepping into a vehicle.
Such a disruption to the victim's life is serious. A personal injury lawsuit needs to address this with as much emphasis as it does the physical injuries because long after the victim has healed physically, they may continue to suffer psychologically.
Is Physical Pain Worse Than Emotional Distress/Mental Anguish?
In most cases, physical pain is given a lot more attention in court than emotional or mental pain and suffering. This is shown by the usually higher value of the settlement amount that a person with, for example, a skull fracture will receive compared to someone suffering from severe anxiety as a result of the accident.
Examples of injuries that can cause physical pain include:
Traumatic brain injury or head injury
Whiplash or soft tissue injuries
Brain injury or concussions
Fractures or broken bones
Lacerations and contusions
Spinal cord injuries
However, in terms of the disruption to their lives, being severely anxious all the time can affect all aspects of a victim's life. Things that others take for granted, such as leaving the house to go to work or forming strong relationships, will be very difficult.
Examples of emotional suffering or mental anguish include:
Insomnia or sleeping difficulty
Worry about disfigurement and scarring, particularly in visible areas
Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Psychological injury or mental trauma
Loss of enjoyment of life
Stress or depression
Reduced quality of life
As such, it is not easy to determine whether or not physical pain and suffering is worse than emotional pain and suffering in Texas personal injury cases.
It will take an experienced attorney to fight for the rights of the victims and ensure that they are well-compensated for both the physical injuries and the emotional suffering they endured. They can help with questions such as Does the at fault driver pay for rental car in Texas?
Economic Damages Vs. Non-economic Damages
Every Texas personal injury case involving a car accident has to deal with two kinds of damages. Victims can sue the at-fault party or their insurance companies for either economic damages or non-economic damages.
Economic damages are far easier to calculate and involve the following:
Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Non-economic damages in Texas personal injury cases include:
Pain and suffering damages
Permanent loss of consortium
Factors That Maximize Pain and Suffering Compensation
When the court determines the amount of pain and suffering damages that can be awarded to the victim, it all depends on the following factors:
Severity of Injuries
The more serious injuries the victim suffered, the more they are likely to get for their pain and suffering in Texas courts. Victims who suffered broken ribs are likely to be awarded a lot more than those with a sprained ankle.
A witness to the accident can give testimony to help the judge or jury visualize just how much the victims suffered as a result of the accident.
If a victim has suffered permanent injuries, such as paralysis, they are likely to get a lot more for their pain and suffering damages than someone whose injuries will heal with time.
Immediate Medical Treatment
One of the reasons why it is important to always seek immediate medical attention is that it shows the judge and jury that the victim was injured enough to seek help before doing anything else.
Proof Of An Objective Injury
Some injuries are easier to prove than others. If a victim has broken bones, it is much easier to argue pain and suffering damages rather than when the victim only suffered internal injuries.
Finally, the amount that is awarded to the victim usually comes down to the attorney's ability to convince the judge that their client suffered a lot of pain and suffering and deserved to be awarded a huge settlement by the at-fault party.
How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Texas?
When asking "How is pain and suffering calculated in Texas," it is important to consider whether the damages are being calculated before or during the trial and whether the Per Deim or multiplier method is being used.
The following are important considerations:
Pre-trial Vs. At Trial (Judge or Jury)
When pain and suffering damages are calculated before the trial begins, or before the lawsuit is filed, it will usually be a matter of negotiating between the victim and the insurance companies.
A claims outcome advisor can be brought in to evaluate the pain and suffering damages based on a variety of factors.
Insurance companies may decide to use complex software to help determine what should be the fair compensation amount. Using such software, the companies will enter injury codes, medical billing codes, and other factors until they reach a certain amount. After that, it will be up to the victim's lawyer to fight for the right settlement for their client.
However, when the case goes to trial, it will be up to the judge and the jury to determine how much pain and suffering the victim endured and how much money they should award them as damages.
This means the victim's auto accident attorneys in Houston will have to do a very good job of presenting the evidence and allowing the jury to make the right decision.
The Multiplier Method
When using the multiplier method, a number between 1.5 and 5 is assigned to represent the amount of pain and suffering the victim endured. The more severe the injuries the victim suffered, the higher the number assigned will be.
Once the number has been assigned for the victim's pain and suffering, it will be multiplied by the total medical bills the victim had to pay to give a value for "special damages." This will be added to the damages for medical bills and lost wages to give the overall value for the settlement amount.
Per Diem Method (Per Day Method)
The Per Diem method, on the other hand, is a pain and suffering calculator that uses the number of days, weeks, or months that the victim had to spend in the hospital to determine how much pain and suffering damages to award.
This method means that the longer the victim spends in the hospital, the more pain and suffering damages they will be awarded after the personal injury case.
How the Pain and Suffering Calculator Can Affect Compensation
In Texas, pain and suffering calculated using the multiplier method will likely have a very different settlement amount compared to that calculated using the Per Diem method. As such, it is important for the victim's lawyer to choose the best method of calculating pain and suffering for their client.
In many cases, when the insurance company realizes that calculating pain and suffering damages and going to trial will result in them paying a higher settlement amount, it will try to negotiate a much lower amount pre-trial. This is something that a good personal injury attorney should always be wary of and advise their client against.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Will Go to War For Victims in Texas Personal Injury Cases
Car accident victims who are facing a lengthy battle for fair compensation against a determined insurance company will need to have an experienced personal injury lawyer by their side.
There is a lot that can happen when pain and suffering damages are being calculated, and proper legal representation is essential.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has many years of experience in Houston personal injury claims and is ready to go to war until victims receive fair compensation.