How Pain and Suffering Damages are Calculated in Washington State Auto Accidents

Washington state allows auto accident victims to pursue non-economic damages, such as those for pain and suffering—but these can be difficult to prove. Discuss your situation with an experienced auto accident attorney today.

Rebuilding your life following an auto accident can be challenging, especially if you are facing a lengthy physical recovery. In addition to costly medical bills and lost wages, you may experience emotional and mental struggles that diminish your quality of life.  While it is typically easier to recover compensation for economic losses, such as lost wages, medical costs, and property damages, you have the right to pursue compensation for noneconomic damages as well, including pain and suffering. Below is a brief overview of how auto accident victims in Washington state may calculate and pursue compensation for the pain and suffering they’ve endured. 

Pure Comparative Negligence in Washington State

Washington is considered a “pure comparative negligence” state, meaning that an auto accident victim must establish that another party was at fault for the accident in order to collect compensation. However, it’s important to recognize that a person can still collect compensation even if they were partially responsible for the accident. For instance, if you suffered a physical injury and it’s determined that you were 30 percent at fault for the accident, you are entitled to collect 70 percent of the total damages requested. 

Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

When it comes to recovering noneconomic damages, things become a bit trickier. Washington state law defines noneconomic damages as “subjective, nonmonetary losses, including, but not limited to pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disability or disfigurement incurred by the injured party, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation, and destruction of the parent-child relationship.” These damages tend to be more challenging to prove and to ascribe a monetary value, so juries have often taken the cost of the medical expenses and multiplied this amount by three or four to arrive at an amount for noneconomic damages. Washington imposes a cap on noneconomic damages, which is calculated using the average annual wage and life expectancy, as determined by the insurance commissioner’s guidelines. As you can see, pain and suffering damages can quickly grow complex, so it’s best to discuss the specifics of your situation with an experienced auto accident attorney.

Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Clark County Attorney Today

Dealing with the fallout of an auto accident can be overwhelming and stressful. It’s highly recommended that you work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to ensure that your case is as strong as it can be. Pursuing compensation for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, can be difficult, so let your attorney guide you through the process of collecting the necessary information and documentation. Let your attorney get to work on building you a successful case while you focus on your physical, mental, and emotional recovery.


If you are struggling with physical, emotional, or mental pain following an auto accident in Vancouver or Camas, contact the compassionate legal team at Henderson Taylor Law Firm today at (360) 737-1478 to discuss your options for securing compensation.