Under Virginia law, victims of car accidents are entitled to recover economic as well as non-economic damages from the person who caused the accident. Economic damages, as the term indicates, refer to the loss of earnings caused by the accident. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, refer to the pain and suffering caused by the accident.
The problem with non-economic damages is that they cannot be easily quantified. A number of factors need to be taken into account while assigning a dollar value to your pain and suffering.
What Constitutes Pain and Suffering in Virginia?
The term ‘pain and suffering’ refers to the physical, mental, and emotional distress caused as a result of the injuries you suffer in a car accident. They include:
- Pain caused by the accident
- Chronic pain that persists even after you make a full recovery, due to the damaged caused to the tissues, joints, or nerves
- Disfigurement caused by the injuries
- Fear and nervousness caused by the memories of the accident
- Depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or phobia resulting from the accident
- Fear of driving resulting from the accident
- Sleeplessness, restlessness, and fatigue caused by the memories of the accident
- Stress, which can physically manifest itself in the form of headaches, muscle pain, chest pain, heart palpitations, and digestive disorders
Apart from this, the impact of your injuries on your quality of life is also a factor that needs to be taken into account while calculating the amount of damages to be recovered for your pain and suffering.
For example, if your face is severely disfigured as a result of the injuries you suffered in the accident, you might feel embarrassed to go out and socialize with others.
Similarly, if you are partially disabled as a result of the injuries you suffered in the accident, you might not be able to function normally without the assistance of mobility aids.
In these kinds of cases, you can recover the medical expenses associated with treating your injuries, the cost of cosmetic and corrective surgeries, and the cost of buying mobility aids, which come under the category of economic damages. In addition to that, you can also recover an appropriate amount of damages for the decline in your quality of life.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
There are two methods used to calculate pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases – the multiplier method and the per diem method.
In this method, the amount of damages to be recovered for your pain and suffering is calculated by multiplying your economic damages by a number – which can be anywhere between 1.5 and 5 – depending on the extent of the injuries you suffered and the long-term complications resulting from them.
For example, if you incurred $20,000 in medical bills and lost $30,000 in earnings due to your injuries, you can seek anywhere from $75,000 ($50,000 x 1.5) to $250,000 ($50,000 x 5) for your pain and suffering.
Per Diem Method
In this method, a dollar value is assigned to every day – right from the date of the accident to the date on which you make a full recovery. For example, if the dollar value is fixed at $300 per diem (per day) and if it takes you six months to make a full recovery, you can seek $54,000 ($300 x 180 days) in damages for your pain and suffering.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering
You have to submit a wide range of documents to prove the extent of pain and suffering you endured – and will have to endure for the rest of your life, if you suffered long-term damages as a result of the accident. They include:
- Physician’s report
- Medical records
- Medical bills for the treatment you received – which includes emergency room visits, surgeries, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and counseling
- Receipts for medications
- Photographs of the injuries you suffered
- Expert testimony from the medical professionals who treated you – surgeon, general physician, physical therapist, and mental health counselor
- Testimony of your family members, describing in detail as to how your day-to-day life is affected as a result of your injuries
- A journal describing your day-to-day life – how difficult it is for you to perform everyday tasks, how often you experience pain, how much you have to depend on others to perform certain tasks, the social obligations you miss due to your physical or mental condition, and so on
Apart from this, you should also be careful about what you post on social media, as the at-fault party’s insurance company might try to use your posts to prove that you are exaggerating the extent of your pain and suffering.
Contact Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyers in Virginia
Calculating the amount of damages to be recovered for your pain and suffering is a complicated task which requires the expertise of a personal injury attorney. The experienced attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can gather and produce the necessary evidence to prove your pain and suffering in court and recover an appropriate amount of compensatory damages from the at-fault party.
Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. So, you do not have to pay us any fee unless we win your case and recover the appropriate amount of damages. Call us at 800-752-0042 today for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.