When individuals are party to severe to catastrophic car accidents, it is not uncommon for them to develop severe emotional distress or disturbances following the incident. This pain and suffering can come in physical and/or mental forms and can drastically impede the quality of one’s life.
Because of the impact that pain and suffering can have on individuals, the law in most states allows car accident victims to collect damages for pain and suffering. The question that remains, though, is how do insurers calculate what these damages are worth?
Physical and mental pain and suffering
According to Nolo, there are two types of pain and suffering: mental and physical. Though mental pain and suffering is typically a byproduct of bodily injuries, it involves issues such as emotional duress, mental anguish, humiliation, anger, panic, shock, depression, anxiety and loss of enjoyment of life. In the most basic sense, mental pain and suffering is any type of negative emotional reaction that a person experiences as the result of the suffering he or she has endured since the accident.
Insurers award compensation for physical pain and suffering for the pain victims endure as a result of their physical injuries. These damages do not just include the actual pain and discomfort a claimant has experienced to date, but also the adverse effects he or she will likely have to deal with in the future.
The pain and suffering multiplier
Because everyone experiences pain differently, it can be difficult for insurers or courts to calculate the value of pain and suffering damages. In an attempt to do so fairly, however, the insurance industry came up with the pain and suffering multiplier.
According to FindLaw, the pain and suffering multiplier is a method by which an insurer adds up the total of the economic damages and multiplies that number by a multiplier of between 1.5 and five. The insurers — often with the help of their attorneys — consider the severity of a claimant’s pain and suffering and other damages to come up with a fair multiplier. In more severe cases, the multiplier may exceed five and go as high as six or seven.
Though every situation is unique, insurers typically consider four factors when coming up with an appropriate multiplier. Those are as follows:
- The severity of a victim’s injuries
- The egregiousness of the other driver’s actions
- Medical evidence of pain and suffering
- The anticipated period of recovery
Claimants should keep in mind that the multiplier is just an estimate. To recover the maximum amount of compensation for pain and suffering, injured parties must present accurate documentation and facts to support their claims.