Making a Claim for Pain and Suffering after a Car Accident
If you sustained an injury in a Nashville car accident, as a result of another party’s negligence or recklessness, various types of damages may be available to you through a personal injury claim. One type, referred to as economic damages, consists of the actual costs of your recovery in terms of lost wages, medical bills, and property damage.
Another more ambiguous type, referred to as noneconomic damages, includes the pain and suffering you have experienced and likely will experience in the future due to your injury. These damages are more difficult to calculate. Today, our Nashville car accident attorneys will look into making a claim for pain and suffering for your car accident injuries.
Defining pain and suffering
The phrase “pain and suffering” is less concrete than lost wages or medical bills. Pain and suffering may consist of physical, emotional, or mental losses, or a combination of all three. Under Tennessee law, several factors may contribute to an injured person’s pain and suffering, including:
- Physical impairment
- Physical disfigurement
- Loss of consortium or companionship due to a spouse’s injury
- Emotional pain and/or distress (i.e. anxiety, post-traumatic stress, trouble sleeping, depression)
- A noticeable reduction in the ability to participate in and/or enjoy everyday activities
- A loss in the level of quality and pleasure experienced in life
When assessing pain and suffering for your car accident injuries, the insurance company will look at your current pain and suffering, as well as your future pain and suffering – i.e., how much you are suffering now, and how much you will be expected to suffer in the future.
How much money is pain and suffering worth?
The insurance company will likely assess the value of your pain and suffering through the “multiplier method.” All of your economic losses (medical bills, lost wages, property loss, and so forth) are added up. That final total is multiplied by a number ranging from one to five. Whatever the final amount is, that’s what the settlement offer will likely be.
EXAMPLE: You sustain injuries in a car accident, and your economic losses total $200,000. The insurance company claims your pain and suffering is worth 1.5x the amount of your economic losses. $200,000 x 1.5 = $300,000. Therefore, your insurance company will offer $300,000 in non-economic losses.
The chances are good, though, that your attorney will disagree with this assessment – and this is where the battle begins. The insurance company will ALWAYS use the lowest possible number they can as a multiplier. Your car accident lawyer, however, will argue for a larger multiplier if your injuries are severe.
How your own role in the collision affects your claim
Tennessee law uses a modified form comparative fault – the 49% comparative fault rule. Therefore, if you are injured in a car wreck in Tennessee and the court deems you 49% or less liable for your own injuries, you will have the opportunity to recover damages. However, your recovery will be limited by the actual assigned percentage of your liability.
Limits on pain and suffering damages in Tennessee
Tennessee code § 29-39-102 limits the available damages for most pain and suffering cases to $750,000. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, that limit is increased to $1 million. Under the law, in order for the cap to increase to $1 million, you must have sustained at least one of the following injuries:
- Spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia;
- Amputation of two (2) hands, two (2) feet or one (1) of each;
- Third degree burns over forty percent (40%) or more of the body as a whole or third degree burns up to forty percent (40%) percent or more of the face; or
- Wrongful death of a parent leaving a surviving minor child or children for whom the deceased parent had lawful rights of custody or visitation.
In most cases the statute of limitations to file a claim for pain and suffering is 1 year. Certain exceptions may apply, but it is vital to act as quickly as possible if you intend to seek damages for your personal injury.
Gathering evidence to support your claim
It is vital to have persuasive and credible evidence to present to the claims adjuster. Your Nashville car accident lawyer can present your case effectively only to the degree that you have proof and documentation establishing the negative impact of the pain and suffering on your life.
Some of the crucial evidence that can benefit your claim for pain and suffering damages includes:
- All of your medical records and bills
- A record of lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and other special damages
- A doctor’s prognosis of the surgeries, treatments, and therapy you will likely need in the future
- Witness statements and police reports produced from the time of the accident
- Expert testimony about the degree of your suffering and the challenges of recovery
- A personal journal or record of your pain and its effect upon your daily life since the accident
More information on car accident claims in Nashville
Breaking Down Your Car Accident Settlement
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Claiming Lost Wages After a Car Accident Injury
If you or a loved one has suffered a car crash injury due to the negligence of another party, our experienced Nashville car accident attorneys at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are able to provide you with strong advocacy. We can fight for the financial recovery you deserve for your injuries, including your pain and suffering. We operate from offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville, supporting injured clients throughout Tennessee. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 615-425-2500 or complete our contact form.