How do I determine pain and suffering for the demand letter after a car accident?

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Question:

How do I determine pain and suffering for the demand letter after a car accident?

Answer:

There is no surefire way to pin an accurate dollar figure on pain and suffering damages when you’re putting together a car accident demand letter. But whatever number you do come up with needs to be supported by the evidence that you detail throughout the letter, especially when it comes to your injuries and the overall impact that the accident and its effects have had on your life. And you can’t just pull a number out of thin air. You’ll need to show the formula you used to come up with the dollar amount.

It might make sense to get a little background information on pain and suffering damages in car accident cases. In any kind of personal injury case, there are typically two categories of damages: special damages and general damages.

Special damages are those losses that are easy to calculate. They can be measured in money, in other words. Special damages include your medical bills, your lost income because of time missed at work, and your property damage (the cost to fix your car) that resulted from the accident.

General damages are not so easy to put a dollar figure on, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. General damages include compensation for pain and suffering, which means all the negative effects that the accident, your injuries, and your medical treatment have had on your life. Not just physical pain and discomfort, but also emotional harm, stress, and anxiety.

So, how are pain and suffering damages calculated? Probably the most common method is the use of a multiplier. That involves taking the total of all “special damages” total (again, that’s your quantifiable losses) and multiplying that total by a number between one-and-a-half and five -- using a lower or higher number depending on the severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery, and other factors.

Under this formula, the higher the multiplier, the higher the pain and suffering award. For example, if you have only minor injuries, and no other special circumstances, you might use a multiplier of one-and-a-half. But if your car accident resulted in serious injuries, scarring, and months of physical therapy, you might use a multiplier closer to four.

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