Washington State follows a traditional tort system. Tort means that when another driver causes an accident resulting in injuries, the injured party has the right to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or from the driver him or herself. One type of damage that a car accident victim is allowed to recover is compensation for pain and suffering. This is not limited to those driving automobiles, however. Recovering compensation for fatal bike injuries or pedestrian accidents also addresses pain and suffering.
Using a Multiplier to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
Most car insurance companies will use a multiplier to calculate pain and suffering damages. The multiplier usually is a number between one and four. Here’s how it works:
An insurance company will calculate the amount of special damages that you’ve incurred. Special damages are economic damages, and refer to the actual amount of money that you’ve lost as a result of the accident and injuries. Medical expenses and lost wages are both special damages. Then, the chosen multiplier will be applied. For example, if you lost $5,000 in special damages, and the chosen multiple is the number two, then you would be entitled to $10,000 in pain and suffering damages.
How an insurance company chooses, a multiplier can vary, but usually involves the following
- Assessing the severity of the injury
- Considering the recovery time required
- Investigating any pre-existing conditions
- Factoring in any aggravating circumstances (like drunk driving)
- Weighing in on whether or not the injury resulted in permanent damage
Using a Per Diem
In some cases, a per diem method may be used instead to calculate pain and suffering damages. The per diem—or per day—method assigns a monetary figure to each day that you suffered as a result of your injuries. If it took you 90 days to heal completely, you would receive the per diem rate multiplied by 90.
When Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Civil Court is a Good Idea
The two methods of calculating pain and suffering damages named above are examples of how an insurance company may calculate damages. Sometimes, though, the amount offered may not be adequate. When this is the case, filing a personal injury claim in civil court may be advantageous. In a personal injury claim, jurors are not bound by a specific formula to calculate pain and suffering damages.
However, according to RCW 4.56.250, “in no action seeking damages for personal injury or death may the claimant recover an amount for noneconomic damages exceeding an amount determined by multiplying 0.43 by the average annual wage and by the life expectancy of the person incurring noneconomic damages…”
For use in determining the noneconomic damages amount, a claimant’s life expectancy shall not be less than 15 years.
Hire an Attorney Today
To help you determine which recovery route you should pursue and what your pain and suffering damages amount may be, call the attorneys at Max Meyers Law PLLC today. You can reach us at 425-399-7000.