Pay Your Bills
If you are injured in an accident, you may quickly get a sense of the scope of your financial losses. For example, if you were in a car crash, you may know that your car was totaled and needs to be replaced. But what about losses that aren’t as obvious?
In South Carolina, you can recover a specific type of compensation – known as noneconomic damages – for intangible losses. Pain and suffering damages cover any physical pain or emotional suffering that you might experience as a result of your accident. While it can be harder to put a price tag on these kinds of losses, a seasoned South Carolina personal injury lawyer can use their knowledge and skill to get you the compensation that you deserve.
Derrick Law Office fights for the rights of accident victims throughout South Carolina. We work hard to help you get the money that you deserve for your losses – including compensation for any pain and suffering that you may have experienced. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team, reach out to our law firm today.
Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina law, you may recover both economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury case. In some situations, you may also be entitled to a third type of compensation – punitive damages.
Pain and suffering falls into the broad category of noneconomic damages. Unlike economic damages, which pay for things like lost wages and medical bills, noneconomic damages cover losses that aren’t as easy to quantify. Noneconomic damages include:
- Physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Injury to reputation
- Fear of loss, illness, or injury
- Other nonpecuniary (not monetary) damages
Pain and suffering is an incredibly important part of any personal injury claim. When a person gets hurt in an accident, they don’t just suffer direct financial losses – like lost wages from being out of work for a few months. They also typically experience other mental and physical trauma, such as grief, anger, physical pain, and disfigurement.
For example, consider a situation where a person is bitten by a dog and requires surgery to repair the damage to their body. Their direct losses – like medical expenses and lost wages – will be paid through economic damages. Their pain from the bite and surgery recovery, their embarrassment at their scars, their ongoing fear of dogs, and their anxiety and depression over the attack would all be covered by pain and suffering.
In the above case, a settlement or verdict at trial that only covers financial losses would be incomplete. While it may help the dog bite victim pay their bills, it won’t pay for everything else that they have experienced. Noneconomic damages go a long way towards making a person whole again after an accident or injury.
If you have been hurt in any type of accident, you can seek out pain and suffering as part of a settlement. Keep in mind that insurance companies rarely take these types of damages seriously. An aggressive car accident lawyer can fight for your right to full compensation.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Unlike economic damages, there isn’t a straightforward way to value pain and suffering damages. As a general rule, the amount that you will recover for pain and suffering will depend on the extent of your injuries, the type and amount of treatment that you require, the impact of your injuries on your life (now and in the future), and the time that it will take for you to make a full recovery.
For example, if you suffer cuts and bruises in a slip and fall that will heal after a few weeks, your pain and suffering claim will probably be relatively small. However, if you are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a fall and will be disabled for the rest of your life, then your pain and suffering claim will likely be much larger.
Many insurance companies and law firms use what is known as the multiplier method to determine pain and suffering damages. Your case is assigned a number based on how much the injury affected your life. This number is then multiplied by the economic damages in your case to come up with an estimate for noneconomic damages.
In the two examples above, the cuts and bruises might get a multiplier of 1. If the person’s economic damages are $5,000, then their noneconomic damages (including pain and suffering) would be $5,000 x 1 – or $5,000. The total recovery would then be $10,000.
In the TBI claim, however, the multiplier might be as high as 5. If the person’s economic damages are $1,000,000, then their noneconomic damages might be $5,000,000 – for a total recovery of $6,000,000. This outcome makes sense when you consider that a permanent disability will affect a person for life – and is effectively the bigger loss.
The key to pain and suffering claims is to work with an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer who will fight for your right to full compensation. They will advocate for you and help you get the money that you deserve for your injuries.
Proving Pain and Suffering
It is often fairly easy to prove economic damages. There is often paperwork – like bills, invoices, repair estimates, and pay stubs – that can be used to prove a claim for these losses. While it can be harder to prove intangible losses, a skilled attorney can use a variety of methods to support a claim.
Different types of documents can be used to prove an individual’s pain and suffering. This may include:
- Medical records that detail your injuries and the pain that they have caused;
- Receipts for prescriptions, including pain medications and medication for mental health issues caused by the accident;
- Statements from treating physicians, and other healthcare professionals that explain the severity of your injuries and how they have affected you;
- Photos and/or videos of the injuries;
- Statements from friends, family members, and coworkers that describe how your injuries have impacted your daily life; and
- Statements from psychiatrists and/or therapists that detail how your injuries have affected your mental health
For example, a person breaks several bones in a motor vehicle accident and spends several months in the hospital and then a rehabilitation facility before they are able to return home. Their medical records are a great starting point to show the extent of their injuries. Statements from providers (including mental health professionals) and loved ones are also important to show the other effects of the accident, such as depression from not being able to do basic things like showering without assistance.
One other factor that can affect your pain and suffering damages is whether you are partially at fault for the accident. South Carolina follows a pure comparative fault model, which means that you can only recover financial compensation for an accident if you were 50% or less at fault. If you were 50% or less at fault, then your total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault. For example, if your total damages were $100,000 and you were 10% at fault, then you will recover $90,000.
Your South Carolina personal injury lawyer will work with you to identify potential records that can be used to support a pain and suffering claim. They will also use their experience with similar claims and knowledge of jury verdicts in cases like yours to put together a strong claim for pain and suffering damages. They will also fight back against attempts by the insurance company to reduce your claim through legal theories like comparative fault.
When to Hire a Pain and Suffering Lawyer
If you have been injured in any type of accident, it is critical to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. During a free consultation, they can give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your case. This estimate will take into account the likely award for pain and suffering damages.
An insurance adjuster may tell you that they accept liability or even offer you a settlement. In most cases, this will be a lowball settlement offer – and may not even be enough to cover your direct financial losses, let alone your pain and suffering damages. You should never talk to the at-fault party’s insurance company, give a statement, or sign any paperwork until you have had a chance to talk to a lawyer.
Insurance companies often don’t take noneconomic damages seriously. They use a strict formula to come up with a number for pain and suffering damages. This formula is weighted to favor the insurance company, such as by assigning a very low multiplier to a serious injury. A South Carolina personal injury lawyer will fight to ensure that you get the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
At Derrick Law Office, we know that noneconomic damages – and in particular, pain and suffering – are incredibly important to our clients. We see how injuries can affect people for years in the future, causing them both physical and mental anguish. We will aggressively advocate for your right to a fair settlement that fully encompasses all of your losses, including pain and suffering.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
A slip and fall, pedestrian accident, motor vehicle crash, or another type of accident can cause significant physical injuries and financial losses. It can also cause serious emotional injuries that should be addressed in any type of settlement or verdict at trial. Our law offices will work with you to ensure that your accident claim includes money for your intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
The Derrick Law Office is dedicated to helping accident victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t pay anything upfront and will only pay a fee if we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial appointment with a South Carolina personal injury attorney, give us a call at 864-531-7765 or fill out our online contact form.