How Much Do You Get For Pain And Suffering In A Car Accident?

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She works as an associate editor and writer for for over a year and enjoys creating content that offers expert advice on car insurance topics.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs...

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Reviewed byLeslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Car accidents can lead to enormous amounts of physical and emotional damage. Your medical bills quantify your physical damage – but how do you calculate emotional damage? How much is your pain and suffering worth? How much do you get for pain and suffering after a car accident?

Today, we’re answering all your questions about how pain and suffering works in a car accident, including how much you can expect to receive in compensation following an accident.

The Insurance Company Wants to Pay You the Least Amount Legally Possible

car accident pain and sufferingFirst, let’s make something clear: your insurance company is not a charity organization. It’s a for-profit business. That business is dedicated to making money. The goal of your insurance company is to pay you as little money as possible for your car accident.

That’s why many insurance companies will push for a quick settlement. In the days following a car accident, your insurer might dazzle you with a large check to cover your medical bills with room leftover. Your insurance company isn’t being nice: they’re just paying you today in order to avoid covering additional expenses in the future.

If you have serious injuries after a car accident, then the true extent of those injuries might not be known for weeks, months, or even years into the future. You might have long-term neck and back damage, for example. You might suffer long-term pain and suffering or emotional damage.

If you want to get serious about receiving compensation from your insurance company, then your best option is to contact a car accident attorney. After contacting an attorney, you can receive compensation for pain and suffering and other expenses.

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How to Calculate Pain and Suffering

It’s easy to calculate your medical bills. Just look at the bills from the hospital, clinic, doctor, and pharmacist. But how do insurance companies calculate pain and suffering? How will your car accident attorney come up with an appropriate amount for pain and suffering?

The insurance industry doesn’t have an exact formula for calculating the average amount of a car accident settlement.

Typically, you’ll only receive compensation for pain and suffering when you’ve been injured. That’s why it’s important to be examined by a doctor immediately after a car accident – even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously injured.

Common car accident injuries like whiplash will not become evident until a few days after the collision. If you wait too long to get medical care, or if you already settled with your insurance company, then you might be unable to seek compensation for your injury.

The Average Car Accident Settlement is Approximately $21,000

Most sources suggest that the average car accident settlement is approximately $21,000. Most car settlements are between $14,000 and $28,000.

If you want to get a rough estimate on your own car accident settlement, then add up your expenses and multiply that sum by three.

For example, add up your expenses for medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages, then multiply that sum by three. With the help of a good car accident attorney, this is the possible settlement you could receive.

The “multiply by three” rule covers your pain and suffering as a result of the accident. This compensation is not just designed to cover your emotional damage, but it’s also designed to cover your future medical and rehabilitation costs – including costs you may incur in the future but aren’t yet known.

You can expect a higher settlement for more severe or permanent injuries, and a lower settlement for minor injuries.

You can also expect a higher settlement if the other driver was under the influence.

Let’s say you paid $10,000 in doctor’s bills, $5,000 in car repair expenses, and lost $1,500 in income after missing work for a week. Your total losses are $16,500. Following the settlement rule above, you can multiply this amount by three and earn as much as $49,500 from a settlement.

Some Insurance Companies Use a Daily Rate Method

The “multiply by three” rule is popular among car insurance attorneys and insurance companies. However, in some cases, the “daily rate” or “per diem” method will be used.

Under the daily rate system, you’ll receive an amount of money each day or each week you suffer from injury after a car accident.

If, for example, you take daily pain medication after a car accident and visited a doctor every week, then you might be eligible for compensation of $200 per day for as long as you’re taking pain medication.

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What Happens If You Exceed the Other Driver’s Maximum Liability Coverage?

It’s possible that you could hit the other driver’s maximum liability coverage.

Some drivers will only have a minimum liability insurance policy, for example, that provides $20,000 of damage coverage.

If you’re owed $30,000, then the other driver’s insurance company might only cover the first $20,000 and you’ll need to sue the other driver for the remaining $10,000.

In this situation, you might also be able to receive compensation from your own insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.


Pain and suffering isn’t an exact measurement. It varies widely between cases. If you believe you’re owed compensation for pain and suffering following a car accident, then it may be in your best interest to schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney.

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