How Much Can I Get for Pain and Suffering in North Carolina?

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An injured man with a broken arm and neck reviews a pain and suffering settlement.

Your emotional hardship or mental anguish following an accident or injury is referred to as “pain and suffering.” You have the same right to collect expenses for expenses related to emotional anguish as you do for the medical care of broken bones, brain injuries, and other physical injuries.

Pain and Suffering Damages

After an accident or injury, experiencing powerful emotions is natural (and expected). Even if you weren’t hurt physically in a minor vehicle accident, it’s normal to feel uneasy, nervous to drive, or anxious in other ways later. These emotions frequently fade with time, allowing you to return to your normal routine with little disruption or damage.

However, the emotional toll can be heavier and linger longer if you are gravely hurt. The goal of tort law, which covers personal injury, is to restore the financial security of the plaintiff. In other words, the goal is to get you back to where you would have been financially if the injury hadn’t occurred.

If your injuries are severe or require ongoing care, you may need the assistance of a lawyer, accountant, or other financial or medical specialists to determine the costs associated with your medical care, lost income, and other specific damages.

How Can You Quantify Your Emotional Condition in Terms of Money?

Based on the severity of your injuries and the anticipated length of your recovery, the courts use one of two methodologies to determine how your pain and suffering should be accounted for in your total compensation. Damages for pain and suffering are meant to make up for the opportunities, comfort, and happiness that a victim loses as a result of an accident or injury.

Types of Damages for a Personal Injury in North Carolina

Economic Damages

You are entitled to compensation to assist you in recovering from your financial losses related to an accident if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. Economic damages may include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical care, including prescription medicine, assistive equipment, physical or occupational therapy, hospital stays, doctor visits, and related costs.
  • Lost wages for the time you were unable to work while recovering, as well as a decreased earning potential in the future.
  • Loss of property, such as damage to your car.

Non-Economic Damages

There is no fixed monetary value for non-economic damages. These consist of:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Chronic pain or physical impairment
  • A lower standard of living
  • Loss of consortium
  • And more

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated

The amount of pain and suffering damages that can be awarded in North Carolina is calculated in a few different ways.

Using a Multiplier

In general, a scale from 1 to 5 is used to measure pain and suffering. If your injuries are serious, such as an amputation, brain damage, spinal cord damage, or a disfiguring injury, you would multiply the amount of your economic losses by a greater number, such as 4 or 5. You might multiply by 1 or 2 if your wounds are less serious or are more likely to heal completely.

With the insurance provider or the defense attorney for the defendant, your attorney will negotiate the multiplier. Learn more about the multiplier method here. 

Per Diem Calculation

If you’ve recovered fully (or are anticipated to), you can figure out pain and suffering damages by dividing the number of days you endured your suffering by a predetermined amount. In other words, your attorney might negotiate that you have to pay $100 per day for pain and suffering during the three months it took you to recover. Learn more about the per diem method here. 

How to Demonstrate Pain & Suffering

It may take a lot of time and effort to calculate the amount of damages you are entitled to, but all that is necessary is to tally up the costs you have already incurred and use actuarial tables (and other metrics) to estimate the costs you may incur in the future relating to your injuries.

Because you can’t quantify pain and suffering like you can with, say, medical expenses, proving it is more difficult. When determining how much a person has suffered in pain and suffering, the North Carolina courts consider the following factors:

  • The extent of your injuries: Your medical expenses will be higher, and you’ll probably feel more agony if you had a serious injury, especially if it resulted in a catastrophic injury such as the loss of a limb or organ function.
  • If your injuries are causing you mental distress: Any accident, especially a serious one, can leave you with anxiety or other serious mental health difficulties.
  • How your injuries affect your day-to-day activities: The losses are severe if the accident has left you with a disability or if it affects your mobility or capacity to work, care for your children, or engage in activities that were a regular part of your daily life before the accident.
  • The types of medical care you have gotten or are still receiving: Pain and suffering will be taken into account if your injury necessitates ongoing physical therapy, more surgeries, or any other form of care that your doctor anticipates will last for a while or the rest of your life.

It is important to note that only you are able to present the court with this proof of your pain and suffering. For instance, your lawyer might rely on accident reconstruction evidence when presenting physical evidence for a car accident, including photographs, weather reports, witness statements, and other kinds of evidence that don’t involve your personal experience. However, when it comes to pain and suffering, you’ll have to present the evidence, as pain and suffering are only dependent on your personal experience.

You can demonstrate your right to compensation for pain and suffering by doing the following:

 Share Everything, Even if It Makes You Uncomfortable.

It’s imperative that you tell your doctor and attorney about all of your experiences. Even if it seems private, intimate, or embarrassing, it could be crucial to your case. It is important to share if how you think or feel could point to despair, grief, or anxiety. Make sure your doctor is aware of any changes you’ve noticed in any aspect of your lifestyle, especially with regard to eating, sleeping, your level of energy, or your general happiness.

Seek Assistance

A counselor or therapist can be of assistance if you’re going through emotional turmoil. You might ask your doctor to recommend a mental health expert with experience in your situation. Without invading your anonymity, the counselor will record the suffering you’re experiencing.

Keep a Journal Every Day

Keeping an eye on your emotional and physical well-being is crucial. Keep track of the date and how you’re doing each day in a notebook. Damages are based on both bodily and mental pain and suffering. You should also mention whether you take any medications and, if so, what dosages you are taking.

Keep Pharmacy Records and Prescription Receipts on Hand

Medication receipts and pill bottles might serve as proof of the quantity and frequency of your medication intake. It’s crucial to keep track of when you need to take any painkillers, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications.

Damage Caps for Pain and Suffering Claims in North Carolina

Except in circumstances involving medical malpractice, North Carolina does not place a cap on pain and suffering damages. A 2011 statute set a limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages for pain and suffering in cases of medical malpractice. If the court determines that the defendant was reckless, highly negligent, dishonest, willful, or malicious in causing the plaintiff’s serious harm or death, then the $500,000 cap will not apply.

Pain and Suffering Lawyers You Can Trust in North Carolina

If you seek to file a pain and suffering lawsuit in North Carolina, you must make sure to file a case before your window of opportunity ends.  When it comes to legal claims, time is of the essence, so don’t wait to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to see what they can do to help you.

At Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ we are mindful of the gravity of your claim for pain and suffering. You are entitled to financial compensation for your damages if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. At Tatum & Atkinson, “the Heavy Hitters,” we are dedicated to fighting for fair compensation on behalf of victims who have suffered severe injuries in accidents. To schedule your free case evaluation right away, call (800) 529-0804 or contact us online.