Given enough time, it is easy to calculate the value of economic damages after a car accident. You simply collect all of the medical bills, car repair bills, lost paychecks, and other expenses, add them up, and that is the total. You may have to wait years to get those numbers, but they are completely objective.
But how do you calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering? To many, that can seem like black magic. And while it is complicated, there is still a good bit of science to it.
If someone punches you in the nose, it hurts. But if they don’t break your nose, the only harm you suffered was pain. That sucks, but it didn’t economically harm you. You didn’t need to visit a doctor or lose any work time. You might have taken a painkiller at most, but the cost of a single pill is effectively nothing.
However, just because the harm can’t be defined economically doesn’t mean the person who punched you shouldn’t pay compensation for the pain they caused. They intentionally hurt you, and Ohio law allows you to receive damages for that pain.
Non-economic damages reimburse someone for aspects of an injury that are non-quantifiable, such as pain and suffering. This money is above and beyond the value of any economic damages.
The difficulty in determining non-economic damages is figuring out how much pain and suffering is worth. You may believe your aching nose is worth thousands of dollars, but a court likely won’t agree. This is why some standard methods have been developed to determine the value of pain and suffering.
There are three typical ways that pain and suffering can be calculated for an Ohio injury claim. These methods are designed to provide fair compensation for victims of car accidents when the other driver was reckless.
The simplest method involves multiplying certain economic damages by a value ranging from three to five. With this method, all medical expenses and lost wages are summed, and that total is multiplied by the factor chosen.
There is no set way to determine what that factor is, but typically, the more egregious the act of the other driver, the higher the value.
This method to determine pain and suffering works best if the injuries suffered don’t take very long to recover from because that makes it easy to determine the exact economic damages. If a victim is looking at decades or a lifetime of disability and treatment, economic damages will need to be estimated and could be far off the mark.
Additionally, this method isn’t very useful when economic damages are very low but suffering is significant. This can be particularly true for certain types of nerve damage, especially if the victim works in a job that doesn’t require much physical activity. The victim experiences a lot of pain but almost no lost work time or medical costs.
The next method of determining a value for pain and suffering is to set a daily cost until the pain goes away or until another method is chosen. There is no set value, but your personal injury lawyer will be familiar with values Ohio courts have deemed acceptable in the past. A judge might also set a value at the end of a trial.
Typically, this method is used by car accident attorneys when the first method wouldn’t produce a fair number, and the pain is expected to eventually go away. Effectively, you are being paid wages for each day that you suffer pain.
Car accident lawyers might also use this method of determining pain and suffering value as a negotiating tactic. If an insurance company delays a settlement, your attorney could argue that you deserve a per diem fee for every day until the settlement is reached.
Ohio law limits non-economic damage awards to $250,000 or three times the value of any economic damages awarded. Thus, sometimes it is just easier to request the maximum award of $250,000 rather than try to calculate a specific award value.
The insurance company is likely to agree if it thinks there is a chance that you could get more with other calculations.
Furthermore, this maximum award value ceases to apply if you have been permanently disabled by your injuries. If that is the case, there is no maximum, and you can potentially receive millions. Your personal injury lawyer will never accept this cap if they believe they can effectively argue that you have been permanently disabled.
Finally, these methods of determining pain and suffering are not mutually exclusive. They can be combined during negotiations or by the judge or jury that awards damages at the end of a trial. Other methods can also be used, though those approaches are rare.
At Slater & Zurz, we realize the last thing you want after suffering a serious injury is to have to wait years to get fair compensation. We are dedicated to getting fair compensation for our clients as quickly as possible.
We also understand that it isn’t worth your time being represented by an attorney if our fee costs you more than we get for you. That is why we guarantee, in writing, that our fee will never be higher than the value calculated for your pain and suffering damages.
With those guarantees, you know that you can trust Slater & Zurz’s attorneys to calculate fair pain and suffering damages for your case. And that means you will get the money you deserve after someone’s reckless actions ruin your life.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Ohio, protect yourself and your future by contacting the car accident law firm of Slater & Zurz today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.