When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the main damages you'll be awarded if you're successful are economic damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and any property damage. Personal injury victims are also able to seek noneconomic damages for pain and suffering.
What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering generally falls into two categories — physical and mental. Physical pain and suffering refers to the past, current, and potential future pain victims experience directly from their physical injuries.
Mental pain and suffering involves the psychological and emotional effects from the accident and/or resulting injuries. Mental pain and suffering can take many forms — anxiety, sadness, fear, humiliation, and other negative emotions. In severe cases, mental pain and suffering can lead to sleep problems, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Are the Limitations on Pain and Suffering Damages?
Like many states, South Carolina puts limits on the amount of noneconomic damages plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
In medical malpractice cases, South Carolina limits noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, to $350,000 per defendant and $1.05 million overall.
Claims against the government are capped at $300,000 for noneconomic damages.
Punitive noneconomic damages in other South Carolina personal injury cases are capped at $500,000 or three times the amount of the actual, economic damages, whichever is greater.
South Carolina uses a modified comparative negligence system. This means plaintiffs in personal injury cases can still recover both economic and noneconomic damages in the form of pain and suffering, even if they were partially responsible for the accident that caused their injuries, as long as the plaintiff is not found to be more than 50 percent at fault.
How Much Is Your Pain and Suffering Worth?
Insurance companies tend to use one of two methods to calculate the value of your pain and suffering when they offer you a settlement amount — the multiplier method or the per diem method.
The multiplier method takes your financial losses and multiplies them by a number that could be between one and five to determine how much to offer for your physical and mental pain and suffering.
The per diem method uses a set daily rate multiplied by how many days of pain and suffering the insurance company expects you to have.
South Carolina courts consider many factors when determining the value of your pain and suffering. The court will likely consider the following factors:
- Your age and general health before the accident
- Your financial circumstances
- Your recovery time
- Your physical and mental limitations due to your injuries
- How much your injuries and the resulting physical and mental pain impact your work, hobbies, and leisure time
How Can You Prove Pain and Suffering in Court?
When you go to court, you'll have records to prove the exact amount of your economic damages, such as medical bills and check stubs or other wage information to back up the amount of your lost wages.
When you attempt to prove pain and suffering to the court, you'll need to use other methods to back up your claims. This is one reason why hiring a personal injury attorney instead of attempting to navigate the legal system on your own can be beneficial.
Attorneys know the law and are familiar with the courts and judges in the areas where they practice, so they're in the best position to advise you on how to prove your case.
You can use documents from medical professionals, including medical doctors, psychologists, therapists, surgeons, and anyone else who was part of your care team.
You should keep a daily record of your pain level and any other symptoms you experience during the healing process. Include any activities that you had to miss or activities of daily living you couldn't do on your own due to your pain.
South Carolina gives personal injury victims three years to file a lawsuit, so speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to determine how to proceed with your case.
Palmetto Injury Lawyers LLC represents clients who live in or were injured in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and surrounding areas. Contact us today if you've been injured in an accident due to another party's negligence.