Pain and suffering awards cover non-economic losses. However, pain and suffering is a very real things for people who have been hurt in car accidents. In this blog, we look at how is pain and suffering determined in Maryland car accidents.
Pain and suffering damages go above and beyond economic damage, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Maryland personal injury lawyers can put a fairly accurate figure on medical bills and lost wages.
This is not the case with pain and suffering. There are different formulas but no universal agreement on which one should be used. the formulas used by insurance companies to calculate pain and suffering are usually less generous to the accident victim than those used by attorneys.
It’s difficult to put a value on pain and suffering because these damages don’t easily translate to dollars and cents. For centuries, the law has attempted to give value to a leg amputated after an accident or a broken ankle.
In more recent years, lawyers have secured millions of dollars for psychological damage inflicted on the victim by a traumatic accident or the loss of quality of life associated with traumatic brain injuries.
Pain and suffering awards in Maryland depend on the following factors. Baltimore car accident lawyer Randolph Rice explains.
How Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Work in Maryland?
At the scene of the accident, you should be sure anyone who needs medical attention gets it. Even if your injuries are minor, get them checked by a medical professional so there is a record of your suffering.
Be sure to cooperate with the police and give them a full and detailed account of the accident, and take your own pictures and videos of the scene and the damage that can be used in as evidence in a lawsuit.
After reporting the accident to your insurance company, your first call should be to an experienced Maryland car accident lawyer like those at Rice, Murtha & Psoras.
We can try to work out a settlement offer with the insurance company and assess whether a lawsuit should be filed in your case. If we file a lawsuit, it will be based on the concept of negligence.
We will need to prove four things to show that the other driver was negligent: that they had a duty, that they breached that duty, that this breach caused the accident, and that damages resulted.
In the context of driving a vehicle on the roads of the state of Maryland, all drivers have a duty to follow all state and federal traffic laws and the rules of the road. You can breach this duty by committing a traffic violation like running a red light or making an illegal turn.
For the purposes of an example, say the driver who crashed into you has been driving over the speed limit, rendering them unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.
Your lawyer will work to prove that this breach, driving over the speed limit, was the cause of the accident and the injuries and property damage that came along with it.
If an individual is killed as a result of a car accident, their estate or certain close relatives, such as parents, children, and spouses, can file a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of a Maryland wrongful death attorney.
A wrongful death case is litigated similarly to a regular negligence case. However, damages can be different and can include future earnings over the individual’s projected lifetime if they were a source of income for your family.
What Factors Influence Pain and Suffering After a Car Crash?
- How severe were the pain and suffering?
- How long did the pain and suffering last?
- How did the pain and suffering impact the victim’s life?
- What effect will it have on the victim’s future?
It’s also important to know what constitutes pain and suffering.
Suing for Pain and Suffering in Maryland Car Accident Cases
The number of damages awarded in a Maryland car accident case will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injuries and damage involved.
Damages commonly claimed after car accidents are hospital and surgery bills, other medical costs, including the cost of physical therapy, loss of earnings during any time the injury forced you out of work, and the cost of any medical treatments reasonably likely be needed in the future.
If your vehicle is damaged, you can also claim the cost of repairing it or replacing it if it is too damaged to be restored to its prior state.
Non-economic damages, which are based on less tangible injuries and are less easily calculated, are typically known under the umbrella term “pain and suffering” damages.
They are determined on an individual basis, depending on the context surrounding the incident and the victim’s background. This means that two people injured in the exact same manner may be entitled to different amounts of pain and suffering damages based on the particulars of each of their situations.
Pain and suffering damages can include mental health and well-being, past and future pain and anguish, humiliation or embarrassment associated with disfigurements such as scars, inconvenience, loss of consortium, physical impairment, and many other things.
There is no set formula that the jury is given to calculate these damages. They are simply told to render a fair verdict in light of the facts of the situation. Similarly, settlement offers are typically made based on an imperfect calculation of the amount the jury is most likely to award.
The only limit on the amount a jury can award for pain and suffering is Maryland’s cap on pain and suffering damages. For non-death cases, the cap is $875,000, and in wrongful death cases, the cap is $1,312,500.
Finally, because Maryland follows a doctrine known as “pure contributory negligence,” if the jury determines you were also at fault in the accident, you cannot recover a single dime from the defendant. it does not matter how slight your fault in the accident is.
Our skilled personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras will work to show the jury that all of the faults in the matter lie with the defendant so that you can receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
So, what qualifies as “pain and suffering” after a Maryland car accident?
Physical pain is the most obvious example of pain and suffering. If you are laid up in agony for weeks due to the actions of a reckless or negligent driver, you should be compensated for your discomfort and hurt. Spinal damage or broken bones can cause terrible pain. You should also be compensated for future pain.
Can accidents can cause permanent disfigurement. You are entitled to be compensated for burns that disfigured your face after your car caught fire on the Baltimore Beltway.
You are entitled to damages for a lost finger or leg or a disability that left you walking with a cane.
You are entitled to claim for a range of emotional issues if the car crash caused them. These can include depression, insomnia, PTSD that causes flashbacks, and anxiety.
Reduced Quality of Life
A car accident can impact you in many ways. If you are a keen runner and the accident means you can no longer jog, you can claim for that loss.
If you are an outgoing person with a wide circle of friends, a devastating crash that turns you into a recluse means a reduced quality of life. This falls under pain and suffering.
If you can no longer drive because of a car wreck and have to rely on others, this is another lifestyle impact.
Loss of a Career
You can claim for the loss of a career as part of pain and suffering damages. You could have a high-powered job in I.T.
A brain injury affects your concentration and means you can no longer work in I.T. You may instead have to take a lower-paid job in a store.
This also includes career prospects. We have represented promising students with their whole life ahead of them whose prospects were dashed by injuries they received in a car accident. the financial loss is economic damage, but you can also lose prestige and self-worth with your prospects.
Loss of Companionship
In Maryland wrongful death cases, the family member who has been left behind can claim for losing the companionship of their loved one as well as the economic damages caused by the loss of a salary.
How Do Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering?
Insurance companies have their own methods of calculating pain and suffering. Many of the big insurance companies use computer programs.
For instance, the Colossus computer program is used by insurers like Allstate to estimate total injury payouts. Although the insurers attempt to cloak their calculations in science, these programs typically low-ball the injured party’s claims.
Insurance companies often multiply the total of medical bills by a number between one-and-a-half and five to put a figure on pain and suffering.
The Consumer Federation of America issued a critical report about computer programs used by insurance companies and how they can shortchange and mislead consumers. It warned people who sustain injuries in car accidents often receive unfairly low offers when an automated computer system is used.
The Per Diem Method
One traditional way used to calculate post-accident pain and suffering is the “per diem” method which means by the day. A certain amount is allocated for each day from the time of the accident until recovery, also known as a maximum medical improvement.
For example, a passenger shatters his shoulder in a crash near Baltimore. He undergoes treatment for three months and physical therapy before he gets better. He suffered approximately 90 days of pain and discomfort.
The passenger earns $50,000 a year, which is $156 a day when it’s divided by the 320 days he works a year. To arrive at a pain and suffering figure, multiply $156 by the 90 days the driver was in pain.
Under the per day method of calculation, the injured driver would receive $14,040 for the pain and suffering element of his injury.
The “per diem” method is straightforward, but it’s also flawed, particularly if you suffer an injury that will dog you for months and even years. the cutoff date can be arbitrary.
The Multiplier Method
Pain and suffering are also calculated after a car accident in Easton or somewhere else in Maryland by using the multiplier method. Typically, a number between 1.5 and 5 is chosen depending on the severity of the injuries.
This is based on the concept that the pain and suffering you endure is worth at least 1.5 times the economic cost of repairing that injury.
The insurance company and your attorney will assess pain and suffering factors to determine how serious your injuries and your pain and suffering are.
More severe injuries like internal and spinal, and brain injuries receive a higher multiplier.
Factors that influence a multiplier include the severity of the injury, its permanence, how the injury affects the victim’s life, and the duration of pain and suffering.
Who Can Claim Pain and Suffering After a Maryland Car Accident?
Pain and suffering are also known as general damages or non-economic losses.
It includes physical pain and mental anguish. Permanent injuries, scarring, disfigurement, family breakdowns, and the inability to work all fall under this category.
If a car accident affects your life profoundly and you are no longer yourself, a figure can be put on this loss.
You can claim for pain and suffering after a Maryland car accident against the insurance company of a driver who caused your accident.
Drivers and passengers who were hurt due to the negligence of another driver can sue the at-fault driver along with pedestrians and cyclists.
However, the other driver must have been 100 percent to blame as opposed to blame being apportioned 60/40 or 70/30. When working out a rough formula consider the following.
Is There a Limit to Pain and Suffering in Maryland Car Accidents?
Maryland places a cap on pain and suffering damages. In 2019, the non-economic damages cap for injuries is $860,000. the cap rises to $1,290,500 in wrongful death cases with two or more beneficiaries. There is no cap on economic damages in the state.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyer Randolph Rice Can Help You Claim for Pain and Suffering
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we don’t believe in the rigid formulas used for auto accident pain and suffering claims like those used by the insurance companies.
These formulas often fail to factor in the human dimension. If a case goes all the way to trial the jury will look at the real needs and challenges faced by the victim.
We factor these into our claims. Please talk to our experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyers today at 410-694-7291.