If you or someone you know has been involved in a serious auto accident in South Carolina, chances are you’ve gotten to experience firsthand the terrible emotional toll that accidents can take.
Beyond the physical harm, medical bills and property damage, serious auto accidents can leave behind devastated families and traumatized victims. Putting a number on the harm suffered can be a truly difficult task and one that deserves as bit of discussion.
What is pain and suffering?
First things first, let’s explain what pain and suffering damages are. Pain and suffering refers to those harms a person suffers beyond physical pain. These include emotional trauma and mental injuries such as anxiety, fear and in some cases, the loss of enjoyment of life. This category of damage is also referred to as non-economic damage.
How do you prove pain and suffering?
Unlike economic damages, which include things like medical bills, property damage and lost wages, pain and suffering is a very hard thing to pin down. While handing over X-rays showing broken bones may prove the extent of a person’s physical harm, it can be harder to demonstrate mental and emotional anguish.
A range of evidence can be used to show pain and suffering, including medical documentation that reveals the extent of injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Additionally, photos of the person’s recovery, journals about their feelings after the accident and testimony from mental health professionals and other experts all go a long way to proving pain and suffering. Finally, the testimony of friends and family members, those closest to the injured individual who have witnessed the pain the injuries resulted in, often provide some of the most compelling evidence that pain and suffering damages are warranted.
What factors impact damage calculations?
Calculating pain and suffering is incredibly difficult for many reasons, chief among them that a person’s pain is by its very nature subjective. Not everyone experiences loss in the same way and there’s no easy method of assessing a number for these intangible things. When courts are awarding pain and suffering damages, they will look to a number of factors to reach a figure. The type of injury at issue is one such factor, as is the duration and extent of the pain felt by the plaintiff. The person’s life prior to the injury will also figure into the calculation and the court will look to see how that compares to life after the accident. Courts consider how the injuries have impacted your ability to work, interact socially, engage in hobbies and even how an accident impacts a person’s ability to maintain a quality relationship with their spouse and children.
How are damages calculated?
After going through the list of factors that may indicate a higher or lower pain and suffering award, one common method for estimating damage is to simply multiply the economic damages (which include the tangible and easily calculated costs associated with the accident) by a multiple, usually between 1 and 5. The exact multiple depends on the particular facts of your case and often rises depending on the seriousness of the injuries, the length of the person’s recovery and any other aggravating factors such as if a person was drunk or otherwise impaired at the time.
The second approach to calculating damages is known as the per diem method, which asks for a certain figure for every day the person had to live with the harm caused by the accident. One way to do this is to use a reasonable figure, such as your daily earnings, and multiple that by the number of days you were in pain to reach a lump sum.
Calculating pain and suffering damages in a South Carolina auto injury cases is art more than it is science and requires the attention of an injury attorney who can help guide you through the confusing process. To find out how we can help, give us a call at (843)577-5530
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.