Can I Be Compensated for Pain and Suffering After My Accident?
Insurance claims and lawsuits filed due to accidents come in two parts, liability and damages. Liability concerns whether the other party is at fault and should compensate you. If they are liable, damages are the losses due to the accident, which can include physical and mental pain and suffering since the accident and what’s reasonably expected to continue into the future. Those damages measure how you should be compensated.
What is “Pain and Suffering”?
This can be broken up in different ways, physical and mental, as well as past and future.
Physical pain and suffering are what your body feels due to the injuries you suffered. It can be sporadic, happen only when your body’s in a particular position, be continuous and constant, sharp, burning, or dull. An injury may result in the opposite. Due to neurological damage, part of your body may be numb and useless. The pain you feel may be tolerable due to medications, or nothing might help. The pain may be so bad you can’t use a limb or function normally so you can’t work.
Physical pain and suffering vary depending on the number, types, and severity of your injuries. They may be few but very painful and limiting. If you are elderly and or dealing with chronic physical problems at the time of the accident, your pain and suffering may be magnified.
Mental pain and suffering are generally the results of your physical injuries, pain, and limitations. You may have suffered a traumatic accident that’s triggered shock, severe anxiety, or post-traumatic stress syndrome. You may be too anxious to leave your house or get into a car. You may lose your appetite or overeat due to your stress. You may suffer mood swings and sleep disturbances.
Physical and mental suffering can spiral into psychiatric conditions like depression. You don’t enjoy your life, your relationships with others suffer, and you fear for your future. You may be unable to work or less capable of working, so your future income will be less. This can cause more anxiety because the future you planned, and one you’ll likely have, may be very different. Your self-image and self-worth could be challenged if you suffer a severe, chronic injury. You may have prided yourself in supporting your family, but now you’re the one needing support.
You should be compensated for physical and mental suffering that you’ve dealt with in the past and what’s expected to continue. Often settlements are delayed until a plaintiff has a good idea whether injuries will heal, or if they won’t, what permanent limitations they should expect. Often pain and suffering will go on after a settlement or jury verdict, so you could be compensated for what you’re reasonably expected to deal with in the future.
How Do You Prove Your Pain and Suffering?
All elements of your insurance claim or lawsuit must be proven. You need evidence to back you up, and that comes in different forms:
- You can describe what you’re going through. You tell the story of your accident, how it made you feel, and what you’ve felt since. To better do this, you should keep a journal or diary about your life. If your case goes to trial, we may shoot a video of an average day to show a jury what you go through
- Your medical records also tell your story. They should contain your condition, treatment, and improvement. X-rays, CT, and MRI scans may be visual ways to show there’s something wrong with you. Thanks to this visual evidence, a jury member may better understand your body isn’t what it should be, and you’re in pain. Always be truthful with your healthcare providers, but happy chit-chat can translate into medical notes stating you appear to be doing well and not in pain. If your records aren’t consistent with the rest of your evidence, it hurts your credibility
- A medical expert can examine you and review your records. They can talk about what a person with your diagnosis and treatment often feels as far as pain and suffering. They can also discuss your specific case, your expected future treatment, and what pain levels would be reasonable to expect in the future.
There are different types of evidence, and we will use all we can to establish your pain and suffering claims.
How Do You Put a Dollar Figure on Pain And Suffering?
Juries generally use their personal experience and common sense to come up with a figure. When we make a settlement demand, we use a “multiplier” to establish a number. This is a process commonly used by insurance companies, though the approaches differ. A multiplier relies on several issues, but as scientific as we may get, a settlement figure is whatever the parties agree to, no matter what a multiplier states your case is worth.
This multiplier is a figure generally between 1.5 and 4. This means the value of your pain and suffering is 1.5 to 4 times the value of your “special damages” (medical bills, costs you’ve incurred, lost wages, and property damage). Also part of this number is an estimate of the strength of your case, how well you’d do if you testify in court, how sympathetic a jury might find you, and whether the defendant’s acts are so shocking and blatant a jury would be more motivated to decide in your favor.
Take the Next Step
Experienced attorneys, like our friends at The Fleck Firm, are able to help after an accident leaves you injured. Personal injury attorneys will talk about the accident, your injuries, the law, and your best options to proceed. You can be fully informed about your situation and make educated decisions about your case, including the value of your pain and suffering and what’s a fair settlement of your claims. Insurance companies have lawyers. You should have one too.