Is there a minimum settlement for pain and suffering caused by an automobile accident?

Question:

Is there a minimum settlement for pain and suffering caused by an automobile accident?

Answer:

No, there is no minimum amount you can expect to receive when it comes to the pain and suffering damages aspect of a car accident settlement. The figure will depend on a number of factors that are unique from case to case.

So, what's the best way to calculate pain and suffering after a car accident? There is no foolproof formula, but there are a few common approaches.

The most popular method is the utilization of a formula which takes a known number -- the total of all medical bills, lost income, and other quantifiable losses associated with the car accident -- and multiples that figure by another more arbitrary number, a "multiplier."

The multiplier is usually a number between one-and-a-half and four, and the determination of which multiplier to use depends on a number of factors: whether the accident involved serious or permanent injuries, whether fault was reasonably clear, and how long it took for you to make a complete recovery.

Obviously, the higher the multiplier, the higher the pain and suffering award. For example, if you've got $5,000 in out-of-pocket losses, only minor injuries, and no other special circumstances, you might use a multiplier of one-and-a-half and arrive at a pain and suffering award of $7,500. Then you'd add those two numbers together and make a settlement demand of $12,500. Using a multipler of 4 in the same case would result in a total settlement of $25,000 (which is $5,000 times 4, plus the original $5,000).

Another thing to keep in mind is that, in the dozen or so states that follow no-fault insurance rules after a car accident, you'll probably not be able to collect compensation for pain and suffering at all. That is, unless your injuries meet the threshold requirements -- in terms of seriousness or in terms of costs of treatment, depending on where you live -- that will allow you to step outside the no-fault system in your state, and pursue a claim directly against the at-fault driver.

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