Generally, the multiplier and per diem methods are the two methods used to calculate pain and suffering damages from a car accident in Chicago. Several factors can increase or limit the value of your pain and suffering, including the severity of your injuries, the impact of the injuries on your life, recovery time, the evidence presented, and the comparative fault system followed in Illinois.

Pain and suffering from a car accident are inherently challenging to quantify because they’re subjective experiences. They can vary greatly depending on each accident victim’s unique circumstances. Understanding what goes into the valuation of pain and suffering is key to recovering the full compensation for what you’ve experienced physically and emotionally after a car accident.

To find out what your pain and suffering damages should be worth, call Ankin Law car accident attorneys at 312-600-0000 for a free case evaluation in Chicago.

What Types of Compensation Are Available After a Car Accident in Illinois?

Data from the Illinois Department of Transportation shows that over 200,000 motor vehicle accidents occur every year in Illinois. Since Illinois is an at-fault state, the party that causes an accident through negligence or wrongdoing can be held responsible for the resulting damages. If you’re injured in an accident caused by someone else in Illinois, you could qualify for the following categories of compensation:

Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable monetary losses sustained due to the accident. They include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Future medical treatment expenses

They’re easier to calculate than non-economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

These compensate you for your intangible non-monetary losses resulting from the accident. They include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. These don’t have a definite cost, and are, therefore, more challenging to quantify.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in extreme cases to punish the at-fault party for his or her actions and deter similar actions in the future.

How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Determined in Illinois Car Accident Cases

Car accident victims have a right to be compensated for the pain and suffering endured because of their injuries. Pain and suffering from a car accident can include physical pain and discomfort, psychological trauma, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nightmares, insomnia, anger, grief, and general sadness.

What Factors Can Impact the Amount of Eligible Compensation?

There’s no standard answer to the question, “How much is my car accident worth?” with regard to your pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering vary from case to case. Car accident lawyers, insurance companies, and juries consider several factors when determining a fair amount of compensation for pain and suffering damages in a case.

Severity of Your Injuries

Generally, the more severe your injuries, the more likely you are to receive higher compensation for pain and suffering. For example, catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments or disfigurements have more potential for greater pain and suffering damages.

Impact on Your Life

Another key consideration is how the injury has impacted your life, for example, your ability to work or move up the career ladder, pursue your hobbies, and maintain personal relationships. Generally, the more impactful the injury is on your daily life, the more significant your damages.

An injury that’s minor for one person could be traumatic and more impactful for the next. A model could find a facial injury to be emotionally devastating. A broken bone could take a bigger emotional toll on an athlete than someone else with the same injury. A car accident lawyer will review your circumstances and give you a better estimate of your pain and suffering damages based on your situation.

Recovery Time

The length of the recovery process can affect the value of your pain and suffering. A long recovery time could imply you’ve endured pain and suffering over a longer period. As a result, it may lead to higher pain and suffering damages.

Strength of Your Evidence

Evidence is critical in substantiating your claim for pain and suffering damages. The evidence presented regarding your pain and suffering influences how much compensation you’re awarded. Without strong evidence, the insurance company will hesitate to award you compensation for pain and suffering. It’s best to call a lawyer before the insurance company after a car accident. Some pieces of evidence that a car accident attorney can use to substantiate your claim for pain and suffering include:

  • Medical records
  • Medical treatment bills
  • Reports from therapists and counselors
  • Testimonies from friends and family about your lifestyle changes
  • Police report
  • Photos and videos of your injuries

Methods of Calculating Damages for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident in Chicago

When considering pain and suffering damages, legal professionals and courts commonly use the multiplier method or per diem method to calculate their value.

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method determines your pain and suffering damages by multiplying the total value of your economic damages by a chosen multiplier. The multiplier is a number, typically between one and five. For example, suppose you incurred $10,000 to treat your injuries, lost a total income of $5,000 from your job, and have vehicle repair bills totaling $5,000, making your economic damages total $20,000. If a multiplier of three is applied, your pain and suffering damages would be $60,000.

The multiplier assigned to your case depends on several factors. The more severe your injury is, the higher the pain and suffering multiplier used. For example, spinal injuries are more likely to justify a higher multiplier than minor ankle sprains. Additionally, the impact of an injury on an accident victim’s day-to-day activities, quality of life, and the prospect and duration of recovering from the car accident injuries are also considered when selecting a multiplier. Chances of a greater multiplier being used are higher if your injury is long-lasting or dramatically changes how you live your life, for example, an injury that results in permanent disabilities that prevent you from working at your pre-injury job.

Since the multiplier method involves the use of your total economic damages, it implies the value of your pain and suffering damages increases as your economic damages increase. Therefore, it’s crucial to correctly address the question, “How much is my car accident worth?” to avoid receiving less compensation than the full amount you’re owed. An auto accident lawyer can help you identify and prove all your economic losses, which is instrumental in adequately calculating your pain and suffering damages.

Per Diem Method

Under the per diem method, a daily dollar amount is assigned to your pain and suffering. This dollar amount is multiplied by the number of days you’ve experienced pain and suffering or are expected to endure pain and suffering due to your injuries. Let’s suppose it’s decided your daily pain and suffering is worth $400. If the number of days you endured pain and suffering were set at 180 days, the total per diem value of your pain and suffering would be $72,000.

The length of your recovery or time taken to reach maximum medical improvement is a factor when calculating pain and suffering damages using the per diem method. The method may not adequately compensate for future pain and suffering, for example, in a case where the pain and suffering are expected to be permanent. In such a case, using your life expectancy as the number of days of suffering would have been more appropriate. Consequently, the method is typically not used in cases involving longer-term pain and suffering.

Insurance companies and defense lawyers can also contest the daily dollar value to be allocated to your pain and suffering. Having a trusted car accident lawyer fighting for you to help you maximize your recovery will help ensure the figure that’s chosen best represents the pain and suffering you’ve endured.

Does Illinois Have Laws on Pain and Suffering Damages?

Illinois law gives injured victims the right to seek economic damages, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Some states impose statutory caps on pain and suffering compensation in personal injury cases. Illinois personal injury law doesn’t set legal caps on pain and suffering damages.

Since Illinois has no limits on damages, pain and suffering could form a large portion of the compensation a car accident victim receives. Unsurprisingly, the at-fault party’s insurance company often downplays damages, especially for pain and suffering. You may only find out how much your case is truly worth after consulting an attorney experienced in personal injury lawsuits and damages in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. Besides experience, you should consider resources, client testimonials, success record, and a contingency fee structure as you choose an attorney for a car accident case.

At Ankin Law, our Chicago car accident lawyers will evaluate your accident, identify and calculate all your damages, and gather comprehensive evidence to justify their value and advocate for your best interests during settlement negotiations or in court. Contact us today so we can start working on your case.