car accident injury

How Much Can You Get for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident?

Authored by:

Attorney William Green from Delfino Green & Green Law


William Green
Mr. Green has made a career of championing the rights of the most vulnerable members of society against the most powerful corporations, government entities, and insurance companies. Where most attorneys take on “a case,” Mr. Green takes on clients and their cause.

Reviewed by:


Delfino Green & Green
For over 30 years, the highly skilled and experienced attorneys at Delfino Green & Green have been protecting the rights of individuals throughout California. We work hard to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions that caused injuries, insurance companies responsible for their promises to pay disability benefits, and employers accountable for their commitment to protecting their employees in the workplace.


As trusted personal injury lawyers serving the Bay Area, we’ve helped countless clients calculate and secure the settlements they deserve. If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else, you deserve compensation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation If you’ve ever been in a serious car crash, you know that some accident injuries linger long after the physical pain goes away. You may have long-term health problems, financial losses and mental health concerns. You may suffer a permanent injury that leaves you unable to feel joy in the same way you used to. With that in mind, don’t you think you deserve a settlement amount that covers more than just your medical treatment? We certainly do. However, your car insurance company likely disagrees. The reality is that insurers frequently go to great lengths to avoid covering anything they don’t have to. In fact, that’s the basis of their whole business model: Billing more in premiums than they pay out in settlements. As a result, some injury victims struggle to secure the compensation they deserve for all of their many losses. One of the losses that is frequently under-compensated is pain and suffering. However, that doesn’t make it any less real or any less deserving of attention. It is just one of the many non-economic damages you may be able to recover when working with an experienced attorney. If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by someone else, don’t give up hope—the attorneys at Delfino, Green & Green may be able to secure the full range of compensation you deserve. This article will explore the amount of money you may be able to secure for pain and suffering from a car accident claim, as well as eligibility criteria, essential calculations and frequently asked questions. A low settlement offer isn’t just insufficient to cover your many losses—it’s an insult to the pain and suffering you’ve endured. If you’re struggling to get a fair offer from the insurance company, we may be able to negotiate on your behalf. Call our law office at (415) 442-4646 to learn more. 

Understanding the Nature of Pain and Suffering

Every person alive has an intuitive knowledge of what pain and suffering means. In the world of personal injury law, however, “pain and suffering” refers to a specific state of being. According to Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, this term means “the pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma that accompanies an injury.” It is one of the many compensable losses you may recoup in a car accident case. Before delving any deeper into securing compensation for pain and suffering, it’s important to distinguish between economic and non-economic losses (also referred to as general damages). Whereas economic losses refer to easily calculable losses such as medical bills, property damages and lost wages, non-economic damages refer to losses that evade a dollar amount. As pain and suffering refers to the experiences of the injury victim, it falls under non-economic losses, which should also be included in your payout. A car accident attorney can help you calculate how much your pain and suffering is worth, based on the specific details of your case.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering?

Your eligibility to receive compensation (as well as the amount of compensation you can receive) for pain and suffering depends on the nature of your case. This includes the circumstances of your accident, your ability to pinpoint the at-fault driver and the extent of damages you suffered in the event. Ultimately, though, if you suffered losses that go beyond medical bills, lost wages and other financial damages, there’s a good chance you can pursue compensation for pain and suffering.

Calculating How Much You May Get for Pain and Suffering

If you’re like most people, the idea of putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering seems a little absurd. However, there are established methods for calculating these losses that your lawyer can walk you through. Most lawyers, judges and insurance adjusters use one of the two methods discussed below.

Multiplier Method

This is the most commonly used computation technique for calculating pain and suffering. When using this approach, you’ll start by adding up all of your economic damages. You’ll then multiply that total by a number between one and five that reflects the severity of the injury. In this scenario, one is meant to represent mild pain and suffering and five is reserved for the most severe injuries. Here’s an example: You were T-boned by a truck driver who was running a red light. In addition to totaling your vehicle, this accident required you to be hospitalized for two weeks—during which you missed work—as well as to undergo physical therapy. When everything was said and done, your medical expenses added up to $90,000. You also took a $14,000 loss on your totaled vehicle and a $3,000 loss in missed wages. To calculate your pain and suffering under the multiplier method, your lawyer would start by combining these economic losses, which add up to $107,000. After consulting with you and the medical professionals who treated you, your lawyer recommends rating your pain and suffering as a three. Multiplying your economic losses by three gives you a total of $321,000, which is what you would ask for in pain and suffering.

Per Diem Method

When using the per diem method, you’ll start by assigning a dollar amount to each day it takes you to recover from your pain and suffering. This number is usually decided by your average daily earnings prior to your accident. For example, if you earned $400 daily before your accident and it took you three weeks to recover, you’d multiply $400 by 21 days to reach $8,400. It’s important to note that because your pain and suffering is not rooted in actual financial losses, it can be difficult to arrive at a number that feels accurate and fair. That’s why it’s essential to work with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in calculating a wide range of damages and settlements.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pain and Suffering Damages

Remember: Trying to put a number on the pain and suffering you’ve endured is almost never easy. It’s normal to have questions, and when you do, the best way to find answers is by contacting a reputable law firm. In the meantime, read through the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. • What counts as pain and suffering in California? Almost any type of physical pain and mental, emotional and psychological anguish that are not included in your economic losses can be included under pain and suffering. It may include types of distress or agony that you wouldn’t normally think to include, such as humiliation, post-traumatic stress, insomnia and even the frustration that comes with cognitive changes. • How do I prove my pain and suffering? To prove your pain and suffering to the court, your lawyer may present evidence of your serious injuries, including medical records, hospital bills and a comprehensive list of interventions and treatments. They may also call upon your doctor to present expert testimony or ask your family members and trusted loved ones to attest to your suffering. • Can I be compensated for pain and suffering without physical injury? In some states, accident victims need to have suffered a physical injury to collect damages for pain and suffering. In California, however, you can pursue compensation for pain and suffering even if you weren’t physically injured. However, securing a fair settlement in these cases is typically more difficult, which is why you’ll want to review your options with an attorney before getting started.

Delfino, Green & Green: Premier Car Accident Lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area

Recovering from a serious car accident can test the limits of your strength. Your losses may extend to every area of your life and leave you wondering how you’ll ever truly recover. But rest assured—our attorneys will do everything in their power to make you whole. When you’re ready to pursue the compensation you deserve for the full range of your losses and to hold the person who hurt you responsible, we’re here for you. Call our law office at (415) 442-4646 to speak with a compassionate attorney or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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