Due to the inherently dangerous nature of riding, motorcycle accident victims often suffer severe injuries and substantial damages. When an accident isn’t their fault, they deserve full and fair compensation for these damages.
Not only do they deserve a financial award for their medical bills, lost income, and other financial losses, but they also deserve compensation for all they have endured. In a personal injury claim, these intangible damages compensate you for pain and suffering, among other things.
Your compensation for a motorcycle accident includes both economic and non-economic damages. After the insurance adjuster agrees to pay a claimant’s economic damages, such as medical bills, lost income, and property damage, they can also increase their final settlement with a strong claim for non-economic damages, which include your pain and suffering damages.
But how much can you get for pain and suffering after a motorcycle accident?
The answer depends on:
- How they calculate pain and suffering
- The amount of their medical expenses
- The limits of the applicable insurance policies
- State laws, known as damage caps
- If the accident occurred in a fault or no-fault state
If you or a family member recently suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you might wonder how much your pain and suffering are worth. While this article serves as a guideline, meeting with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is the best way to determine how much your claim for pain and suffering can be worth.
Motorcycle Accident Pain and Suffering Types
Motorcycle accident victims, and sometimes their family members, are legally entitled to compensation for several types of pain and suffering. However, their compensation isn’t simply restricted to physical pain from bodily injuries, even though these can cause quite a bit of pain.
You cannot measure several all personal injury damages with a receipt or invoice; the motorcycle law refers to these as non-economic damages.
A motorcycle accident victim’s non-economic damages may include:
- Physical pain and suffering: Immediate pain suffered at the impact of the accident, ongoing physical pain from various wounds and swelling, painful stitches, injections, surgeries, or other medical procedures, fatigue, dizziness, and many other things.
- Emotional distress: Anxiety, depression, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep issues, and any other emotional traumas after an accident.
- Decreased quality of life: Inability to participate in or loss of enjoyment in family activities, school, hobbies, pet care, or religious services, as well as real or perceived social isolation and chronic pain.
- Scarring and disability: Handling any disfigurement such as the loss of a limb or severe scarring, the loss of future income earning capacity, loss of function (such as cognitive function, paralysis, deafness, or blindness)
- Loss of marital and family relations: Known as loss of consortium between married spouses, or loss of support and companionship between parent and child
- Impact of fatal injuries: Wrongful death motorcycle accident claims can include the mental anguish and grief suffered by the decedent’s family members and loved ones
Calculating Pain and Suffering Settlement Amounts
There are two common ways to calculate settlement amounts for pain and suffering; the per-diem method and the multiplier method.
The Per-Diem Method
The Latin phrase per diem means “by the day.” This method designates a dollar amount (often the amount of the claimant’s daily income), multiplying it by the number of days their injuries impacted them.
However, the per-diem method usually doesn’t account for the severity of the claimant’s injuries. For example, it may not be accurate for motorcycle accident victims who are stay-at-home parents, low-wage earners, or retired.
Calculating a Motorcycle Insurance Settlement Using the Per Diem Method
For example, suppose you are on your way to work one afternoon on your motorcycle, and a speeding driver who runs a red light slams into you. An ambulance rushes you to a trauma center with a pelvic and skull fracture, a ruptured spleen, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Unfortunately, you cannot return to work for 72 shifts due to your injuries and need for physical and cognitive rehabilitation. You suffered 180 days with pain.
The insurance company might simplify your pain and suffering under the per diem method. The adjuster might take your daily earnings and multiply that amount by 180 (the days you missed work). At first glance, this might seem like a fair settlement demand for you. However, it’s less than adequate compensation for your type of motorcycle accident injury.
This example makes it easy to see how the per diem way of calculating pain and suffering isn’t ideal for all serious motorcycle accident injury claims. Even if the per diem method might have a fair result, you want your motorcycle accident lawyer handling these calculations – not the insurance company.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is common to estimate compensation for motorcycle accident injury settlements, likely because it’s the most accurate to capture a victim’s pain and suffering.
It typically involves three steps:
- Add up all the hard costs of the motorcycle accident, such as medical treatment expenses, lost income, and out-of-pocket costs.
- Multiply that sum by a number (depending on the severity of your injuries and resulting disabilities) to account for your pain and suffering.
- Combine your hard costs with the pain and suffering amount to determine the total value of your motorcycle accident injury claim.
Serious motorcycle accident injuries resulting in disability, surgery, rehabilitation, or permanent scarring can garner a higher multiplier. However, you will need a seasoned motorcycle accident lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement for these severe or catastrophic injury cases.
By having a lawyer use the multiplier method, you might fight for a much higher settlement. Often, this method more precisely embodies the severe pain and suffering you have endured for your injuries.
Note that claimants in no-fault states aren’t eligible to receive compensation for pain and suffering under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. However, PIP coverage applies only to relatively minor injury claims. Severe and catastrophic injury claims that surpass specific thresholds should always include money for pain and suffering within the demand.
If your accident happens in an at-fault state, pain and suffering calculations should always be part of your claim. This is also where the insurance company will work hard to minimize your payment. Adjusters highly underestimate pain and suffering values, as this is much easier to challenge than concrete financial losses you can prove through medical bills and pay statements.
Remember your pain and suffering is a compensable loss, and you should never limit your compensation to economic damages. To ensure you receive full compensation for pain and suffering – using either the per diem or multiplier method – always consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer before beginning the insurance claim process.
Other Legal Factors Can Affect Pain and Suffering Settlements and Awards
Besides your medical expenses, lost income, and how your lawyer calculates your settlement or award, other factors can affect how much compensation you receive for your pain and suffering.
Each state has its own personal injury laws. Sometimes these laws affect how much an injured party can request or receive for personal injury damages, including those sustained in a motorcycle accident. Civil laws in the state where your accident occurred may cap how much you can receive for pain and suffering. Your motorcycle accident attorney will know the laws of your state and advise you on any limitations that might apply to your pain and suffering damages.
The policy limits of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage can also dictate how much you receive for pain and suffering damages. If you deserve compensation for your pain and suffering that exceeds the amount of the applicable insurance policies, your motorcycle accident attorney can help you potentially file a lawsuit seeking further financial recovery.
How You Can Increase Your Chances of Maximum Compensation?
You can do several things to receive the best settlement or jury award possible. The actions you take or don’t take after your injury can substantially impact the outcome of your claim.
Get Medical Care
Most importantly, be sure to receive the medical care you need. After your injury, you should undergo a medical examination as soon as possible. They will document your injuries and create an appropriate treatment plan.
When a medical professional documents your injuries early on, you can reduce the risk of the insurance company saying they are not from your accident. If you wait too long, they can argue that you did something else to injure yourself between the accident and seeking medical care.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Additionally, you should be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and prescribed treatment regimen. This helps your health and recovery, and it shows the insurance company that you take your injuries seriously and are doing what you can to improve.
If you don’t do what your doctor or other healthcare professionals recommend, the insurance company can refuse to pay for the care you have already received. They might argue that your medical care isn’t necessary. Talk to your attorney first if you don’t want to continue your medical care.
As much as possible, preserve evidence. This can be in the form of pictures or videos of the scene of your accident and your injuries. It can be property damage, such as your motorcycle, jewelry, or clothing.
You can never take too many pictures when it comes to a personal injury. However, don’t use any filters or alter the photos in any way and be sure they include a date and time stamp.
Torn or bloody clothing can also serve as evidence to prove your injuries and their severity. You will also want to keep track of your medical bills and any receipts or invoices related to your medical care or other accident-related expenses.
Many personal injury lawyers report that their client’s credibility is the number one factor determining their lawsuit’s value. If the liable party’s attorney can prove that you lied, stretched, or withheld the truth, they can try to damage all of your credibility.
For example, your credibility will be in question if you tell the attorney that you can’t lift more than ten pounds, but they obtain video footage of you carrying furniture inside your house or medical records that say you lift your children. You don’t want questions about your honesty to jeopardize your entire claim.
Limit What You Tell Your Medical Providers
Of course, you need to be open and honest with your medical providers so that they can provide you with the appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and care. Be sure you aren’t exaggerating your pain, limitations, or other symptoms. However, don’t talk to your healthcare team about other events or situations in your life. Innocent small talk, such as the details of your upcoming camping trip or even observing a sporting event, can come back to damage your case.
Your doctor might mention some of these details in your medical record, such as: “Patient felt well enough to go camping over the weekend.” With your medical record or your doctor’s testimony, the insurance company can use these details to argue that your injuries aren’t that bad if you can participate in everyday activities.
Receiving Fair Pain and Suffering Compensation Begins with Hiring an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
No matter your injuries and how much pain and suffering you’ve endured in a motorcycle accident, you deserve full and fair compensation for both your economic and non-economic damages, including your pain and suffering.
Motorcycle accident attorneys are well-versed in determining appropriate compensation and fighting for victims’ rights to it. They can ensure that all of your damages, including your pain and suffering, are included in your demand for recovery. Hire an experienced Denver personal injury law firm’s attorney today to start your claim.