Understanding pain and suffering is important if you are filing a lawsuit for injuries after an accident. Knowing how these damages are calculated and what precisely these damages cover will help you better understand the value of your car accident case and the reason why it is so important to work with an attorney who can help you pursue these damages.
Ultimately, pain and suffering damages cover all of the physical, mental, and emotional effects of an injury rather than covering the financial harm (those damages are separate). Courts and insurance companies often calculate pain and suffering with one of two methods that either assigns a daily value for every day of pain and suffering or calculates them as a multiple of your other compensatory damages.
Contact the Mississippi car accident lawyers at Howe Law today by calling (844) 876-4357 for help with your injury case.
What Damages Are Included in “Pain and Suffering” in Mississippi
Before discussing the calculation methods, we should discuss what these damages are in the first place. The name “pain and suffering” is commonly used to discuss the damages you receive in an injury case because of the injury itself rather than the financial effects of the injury. These damages are also lumped together under the term “non-economic damages” in many cases.
Under Mississippi law, it might be more accurate to refer to damages as “special damages” or “general damages.” Special damages are those unique to the facts of the specific case, such as income lost after an injury. General damages are those that flow, generally, from the events, such as pain and suffering.
When lawyers say “pain and suffering,” they are often talking about a lot of experiences beyond just physical pain and mental suffering. Any emotional, mental, psychological, or personal effects can typically be included in this category, including things like emotional distress, mental anguish, and lost enjoyment of life. Mississippi’s code also includes a specific list of things that can be counted among the damages in claims for non-economic damages alongside pain and suffering.
Many times, damages are also paid specifically for lost abilities, such as in the case of an athlete who can no longer play their sport because of an injury. It can also include damages for scarring and disfigurement, which can be especially higher for young people, unmarried people, and women. All in all, there are many kinds of damages that can be accounted for under “pain and suffering,” and many victims will need their Mississippi personal injury lawyer to review their case to determine which damages they can raise their pain and suffering claim for.
Calculating the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages
Now that you know what damages can go into the pain and suffering calculation, you can better understand how these damages are calculated.
Proving Pain and Suffering
As these damages typically have no clear dollar value or price attached to them, and there are no receipts or statements listing how much they cost, proof of these damages comes in the form of testimony. Generally, victims can testify about their own experience, doctors can testify about the victim’s recovery, therapists can testify about the victim’s mental and psychological journey, and loved ones can testify about how the victim’s life has changed because of the injury. All in all, this evidence helps prove that these damages exist and gives a general scale of “how bad” the damages are, but it still does not give us a specific value.
“Multiplier” vs. “Per Diem” Method
To get a specific value, courts often use the “multiplier method” or the “per diem” method. With the multiplier method, that evidence and testimony helps courts set a multiplier between 1.5 and 5 that they then apply to the other damages in the case to calculate a total for pain and suffering. With the per diem method, courts assign a per day value to your pain and suffering and multiply that by the number of days you experienced those damages.
Each method has its place. For example, the per diem method works better for limited injuries while the multiplier method works better for ongoing injuries. But both methods are limited, and juries are often free to adjust these damages up or down.
Pain and Suffering Caps
Ultimately, pain and suffering is capped at $1 million under Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-60, but courts have called the constitutionality of that cap into question.
Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering in Mississippi?
In some states, lawsuits for pain and suffering are not allowed after a car accident without special exceptions. This rule typically comes up in “no-fault” states, where every driver is required to have car accident insurance that covers some of their medical bills and lost wages regardless of who caused the crash. The trade-off in those states is that the damages are paid without anyone needing to prove who was at fault, but those damages are only for the economic damages you can readily claim on paper.
In those states, you usually need to meet additional standards before you can sue, known as a “verbal threshold” or “serious injury threshold.” That means you must have injuries that meet a certain definition that makes them legally defined as “serious” enough to warrant pain and suffering and to allow victims to sue for damages beyond what their no-fault coverage provides.
Mississippi is not a no-fault state and instead uses a “tort” or “fault” system for car insurance. That means that when you are injured in a car crash, you can file an insurance claim with the driver who caused the crash. When you file this claim, you can include a claim for pain and suffering, but insurance companies are often unwilling to fully compensate you for these damages (or any damages) through an early settlement.
A “tort” is a civil claim of wrongdoing, such as a civil injury lawsuit. Insurance is designed to pay damages more quickly and easily than going through a court case, but insurance does not seek to legally limit lawsuits in a fault state like it does in a no-fault state. This means that you have a choice as to whether to file through insurance or go to court – and pain and suffering damages can be claimed through either method. If you settle your case with insurance, that settlement often includes a release that prevents you from filing a tort claim in the courts, so it is vital to work with a lawyer and discuss any settlement offers and options before signing anything.
Call Our Mississippi Car Accident and Injury Attorneys Today
If you were involved in a car crash and suffered injuries, contact Howe Law’s Biloxi car accident attorneys at (844) 876-4357.