If you suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident someone else caused, you probably want to seek compensation for your injuries as well as your pain and suffering. However, how much is pain and suffering worth for a motorcycle accident, and how can you get the maximum compensation you need to cover all your damages and losses?
Compensation for pain and suffering and related areas falls under non-economic damages. Determining the types of non-economic damages you can receive and calculating their amounts requires a complex and challenging analysis, so consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash.
Although we provide some general guidelines and information regarding pain and suffering in the following article, a lawyer must assess your claim and offer specific advice and counsel regarding your case.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a general term for the intangible, non-economic damages you suffered because of the accident and your injuries. While economic damages compensate you for the financial costs of your injuries and cover readily quantifiable losses, such as medical bills, property damage, lost income, and other related out-of-pocket expenses, subjective non-economic damages do not have a defined dollar amount attached to them.
Common examples of pain and suffering damages include:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress and psychological issues
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of limb and amputations
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Motorcycle accidents in particular can cause victims far more than physical injuries and damaged property. Since a personal injury claim should make a victim’s life whole again—or at least provide for as full of a recovery as possible—speak with an attorney who can evaluate your claim and calculate the non-economic damages you can pursue.
How Do I Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?
As mentioned, economic damages cover the financial costs of your injuries, and the paper trail associated with them makes them fairly easy to calculate. For instance, your lawyer can gather all your medical bills and add them up to determine the total cost you incurred seeking treatment for your injuries. This includes receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation to and from medical treatment, daycare costs, and other related expenses.
Your attorney can also collect your pay stubs to determine how much income you lost because of your injuries, and they can easily calculate the property damage you incurred by adding up body shop estimates or the fair market value of a totaled motorcycle.
To put a dollar amount on something as intangible and abstract as non-economic damages, such as emotional distress or physical pain, lawyers primarily use three different formulas:
- Multiplier method: In this method, the total economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost wages) are multiplied by a certain factor (a multiplier) to calculate pain and suffering damages. The chosen multiplier depends on the severity of the injuries, the impact on the victim's life, and other relevant factors.
- Per diem method: This method involves assigning a daily rate to the pain and suffering damages. Your lawyer multiplies the daily rate by the number of days the victim experienced pain and suffering due to the accident. The severity of the injuries and the level of pain endured can help determine the per diem rate.
- Comparative analysis: This method involves looking at jury verdicts or settlement amounts from similar cases in the same jurisdiction. By analyzing past cases with similar injuries and circumstances, your lawyer can estimate a range of potential pain and suffering damages.
These methods serve as guidelines, and the specific circumstances of your case will ultimately influence the final determination of pain and suffering damages. The severity of injuries, duration of recovery, impact on daily life, emotional distress, and the jurisdiction where the case is heard will all play a role in the calculation.
What Factors Influence Pain and Suffering Damages After a Motorcycle Accident?
The impact of the injuries on the victim's physical and emotional well-being influences pain and suffering damages in a motorcycle accident case.
Factors that commonly play a role in assessing pain and suffering damages include:
- Severity of injuries: The extent and severity of the injuries you sustained in the motorcycle accident help determine the level of pain and suffering. Severe injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, fractures, amputations, or internal organ damage often lead to greater pain and suffering.
- Duration of recovery: The length of time it takes for you to recover from your injuries can significantly affect pain and suffering damages. Prolonged recovery periods, multiple surgeries, and ongoing rehabilitation often contribute to higher pain and suffering damages.
- Chronic pain and permanent disability: Chronic pain or a motorcycle accident that leaves you with a permanent disability or impairment can significantly increase your pain and suffering damages. These long-term effects have a lasting impact on your quality of life and emotional well-being.
- Emotional and psychological issues: As mentioned, emotional distress and other psychological issues resulting from the accident and injuries can contribute to pain and suffering damages. This may include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbances, or psychological trauma associated with the accident.
- Impact on daily life and activities: The extent to which the injuries affect your ability to perform daily activities, engage in hobbies, work, or maintain relationships can influence pain and suffering damages. Your lawyer may consider loss of enjoyment of life, restrictions on mobility, and the inability to participate in previously enjoyed activities in assessing damages.
- Medical treatment and rehabilitation: The type and frequency of medical treatment required, including surgeries, therapy, medication, and ongoing rehabilitation, can affect pain and suffering damages. Higher medical expenses and the need for extensive treatment may contribute to increased damages.
- Documentation and evidence: Strong supporting evidence like medical records, expert opinions, photographs, and witness statements can bolster the claim for pain and suffering damages. This evidence can establish the severity of the injuries and its impacts on the victim's life.
- Jurisdiction and case precedents: The laws and regulations governing the jurisdiction where you file your claim, as well as the precedents set by previous cases, can influence the calculation of pain and suffering damages. Different jurisdictions may have different approaches and limitations on pain and suffering awards.
The subjective assessment of pain and suffering damages can vary based on the specific details of your case. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney will provide you with personalized guidance and explain how these factors affect your claim for pain and suffering damages.
How Can I Prove Pain and Suffering After a Motorcycle Accident?
Proving pain and suffering after a motorcycle accident involves challenging, subjective factors and personal experiences. However, several strategies and types of evidence can support your pain and suffering claim.
Here are some ways to demonstrate and prove pain and suffering after a motorcycle accident:
- Medical records: Your medical records document the extent and severity of your injuries. Seek immediate medical attention after the accident and follow up with all recommended treatments. These records will detail your diagnoses, treatment plans, medications prescribed, and any ongoing pain management. They serve as objective evidence of your injuries and can support your claim for pain and suffering.
- Expert medical opinions: Consulting medical experts like physicians, specialists, or rehabilitation professionals can provide professional opinions on the long-term effects of your injuries and the associated pain and suffering. Expert testimony can validate your claim.
- Testimony from experts: Expert testimony from accident reconstruction specialists, vocational experts, or economists can establish the long-term impact of your injuries and their associated pain and suffering.
- Witness testimony: Witnesses to the accident or the impact of your injuries on your life can provide helpful testimony. Statements from family members, friends, coworkers, or healthcare providers who can attest to the changes they've observed in your behavior, abilities, or emotional state can strengthen your claim.
- Psychological evaluations: If you experienced emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or other psychological effects because of the accident and your injuries, a psychological evaluation can provide objective evidence of your pain and suffering. A qualified mental health professional can assess your condition and provide an expert opinion regarding the psychological impact of the accident.
- Photographs and visual evidence: Visual evidence, such as photographs of your injuries, scars, or physical limitations, can illustrate your pain and suffering. These images can provide a tangible representation of the impact of the accident on your physical well-being.
- Pain journals or diaries: A detailed journal or diary where you record your daily experiences, including physical pain, emotional distress, and limitations on daily activities, can provide valuable evidence. Document the level of pain, how it affects your sleep, mobility, and quality of life, as well as any emotional struggles you face. Consistent, thorough, and specific entries can establish a clear record of your pain and suffering over time.
Work closely with a personal injury attorney who can prove pain and suffering in your jurisdiction. They will gather and present the necessary evidence to support your claim and advocate for fair compensation for your pain and suffering.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies notoriously try every method possible to devalue or deny injury claims. Insurance companies are particularly leery of non-economic damage claims for pain and suffering and may downplay your pain and suffering.
What’s more, many insurance companies have biases against motorcyclists and view them as reckless adrenaline junkies with little regard for their safety and lives. The insurer will likely deny your claim outright or offer you only a lowball settlement that does not cover all of your injuries and losses.
Insurance companies are not on your side, but your personal injury attorney is. They can serve as a steadfast advocate for you and fight the insurance company to get them to honor your claim. Your lawyer will also negotiate aggressively with the insurer to get them to offer a full and fair settlement, and if the insurer refuses to settle or unjustly denies your valid claim, your lawyer can take them to court and sue them for the money you need.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
You deserve full compensation to cover all of your injuries and damages because a negligent party caused your motorcycle accident. Although you need the money you deserve, you do not need the added stress and burden of pursuing compensation, particularly if your injuries resulted in ongoing physical pain or psychological issues that will affect your life going forward.
Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Levin Firm today. We have many years of experience helping injured motorcyclists throughout the country. We can determine the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering and fight to get the maximum amount allowed under the law.