Personal injury cases often involve two types of damages: special damages and general damages. Special damages compensate the plaintiff for economic losses, such as medical bills, lost income, and property losses. General damages compensate the plaintiff for noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering. Because general damages are more intangible in nature, people often struggle to determine how much general damages are worth. Do you have questions about how to negotiate a pain and suffering settlement in your personal injury claim? An experienced personal injury attorney can help value your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
How to Negotiate a Pain and Suffering Settlement
After an injury accident occurs, caused by the negligence or recklessness of another individual, it is common for the insurance company to contact the injured victim. When the liability is not disputed, the company may make an offer of settlement early on.
Does this situation sound familiar? Following an injury accident, if you are contacted by the other party’s insurance company and are given an offer, you should not agree to it without first speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies try to protect their bottom lines, and one tactic that they use is extending offers that are unreasonably low.
Remember that in addition to your pecuniary losses, you may also be entitled to recover damages for the pain and suffering that you have experienced. A lawyer can assist you in determining the value of your general damages so that you can work to negotiate a pain and suffering settlement that fairly compensates you.
How to Value Your Pain and Suffering Damages
It is difficult to quantify pain and suffering damages. In order to calculate them, insurance companies often use either the multiplier method or per diem method.
In the multiplier method, your past and future expected medical expenses are calculated. That number is then multiplied by a multiplier that ranges from one-and-one-half to five. Insurance companies normally choose lower multipliers, while personal injury lawyers choose higher ones. The multiplier that you choose will depend on a number of factors, including the following:
- Whether the other party was clearly at fault
- The severity of your injuries
- Verified documentation of your pain and suffering
- Your likelihood of recovery
- The expected length of your recovery period
The result that you receive is the approximate value of your pain and suffering damages.
The insurance company may also use the per diem method to calculate your pain and suffering damages. Under this method, the insurance company multiplies the number of days that you are expected to experience pain by a daily rate. This method does not work well if you have suffered permanently disabling injuries. There may also be some argument about the per diem amount that is chosen by the company.
Calculate Your Pain and Suffering Under Both Methods
Are you ready to learn how to negotiate a pain and suffering settlement? A good rule of thumb is to start by calculating your pain and suffering under both the multiplier and per diem methods with the help of your attorney. You might choose a high multiplier if your accident was especially catastrophic and the other driver’s fault is clear. For example, if you were seriously injured after you were hit by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road, you should choose a higher multiplier. When you calculate your pain and suffering damages under both methods, you are likely to come up with different numbers. That is fine because the two numbers can help you establish a range of values, which will be beneficial as your attorney negotiates your settlement with the insurance company.
Negotiating the Amount of Your Pain and Suffering Damages
Special damages are typically fairly straightforward since they are your economic losses; you will likely need to negotiate the amount of your pain and suffering damages to a much greater extent. After you have valued your claim and have an idea of what type of settlement you should receive, you can start the negotiation process by sending a demand letter to the insurance company with the assistance of your attorney.
A demand letter outlines what happened, describes the extent and severity of your injuries and losses, and makes a demand for a settlement amount. You should start by demanding a settlement at the high end of your range. The insurance company may then make a counteroffer, accept your demand, or deny it. If the insurance company either denies your demand or makes an unreasonably low counteroffer, you can then file a formal lawsuit. Negotiations may continue while a lawsuit is pending, and most personal injury cases are ultimately settled before they go to trial.
Accidents often leave victims to face both substantial economic and noneconomic losses. Have you have been injured because of the actions of another? We encourage you to seek out legal advice before accepting an offer to settle, so that an attorney can value your claims and provide a range of expected recovery values for the types of damages incurred. With the help of your attorney, you can learn how to negotiate a pain and suffering settlement properly. Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave, and schedule a free initial consultation to explore your options. We can help you determine the best course of action so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve and the best outcome for your claim.