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