After an accident where you suffer injuries because of the negligence of another party, you must begin to think about an insurance claim and how you will ask for the damages you incur from the party at fault or their insurer.
One common area of confusion is pain and suffering damages. While you may think you know what that means, how exactly do you go about asking for such a loss in an insurance claim? What is the likelihood you will succeed in your attempts to receive the appropriate amount of monetary compensation for this loss, especially if you do not have an attorney?
No one answer applies to every situation. How you approach your case and your decision to hire a lawyer can greatly influence the amount of pain and suffering damages that may be available to you after an accident.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
When you are in a personal injury accident, you may suffer serious physical, mental, and emotional effects from the accident. The law allows an accident victim to seek compensation for losses including pain and suffering.
Many people have an idea of what pain and suffering entails, but when it comes to an accident and its aftermath it can involve various aspects that require further understanding and consideration.
Physical pain can vary from one individual to another and can depend on factors such as the location of an injury, the severity of an injury, and even an individual’s tolerance for pain. Measuring pain objectively can be difficult because of the very personal nature of the experience. During an insurance claim or lawsuit, a victim may seek compensation for the pain they have and will experience.
The immediate pain following a collision can overwhelm you. Victims may go into shock as they await emergency medical care.
When calculating your damages for physical pain, you can consider not only the physical impact at the accident scene but also the pain that follows. Injuries do not heal instantaneously, and you can experience different pain levels throughout each stage of your recovery. For those victims that sustain injuries causing permanent disabilities or chronic conditions, pain may become a part of their everyday life that they will have to deal with forever.
When seeking compensation for pain and suffering, you may seek compensation for pain that occurs during the accident, throughout your recovery, and the pain you will face during your lifetime because of the injuries you sustain.
Emotional and Mental Impacts
A much more complex area of pain and suffering is the mental and emotional manifestations of this feeling and experience that an accident victim can go through after an accident. There is nothing more personal than an individual’s thoughts and feelings that they experience.
Accidents are traumatic events. Even in an accident where a victim suffers minor injuries, they can face overwhelming fears, anxieties, and difficulties the accident caused. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common condition that accident survivors face following a near-death experience such as a devastating motor vehicle accident.
The law allows for victims of injuries to seek recovery of their pain and suffering losses after a personal injury accident. Pain and suffering are not limited to physical outcomes but also the mental and emotional anguish you can undergo. The personal and internal struggles a victim faces after an accident can affect their ability to live their lives to their fullest. Quality of life, enjoyment of life, impacts on relationships, and your day-to-day life can all serve as examples of your pain and suffering due to an injury accident.
What Type of Loss Is Pain and Suffering?
When describing damages after an accident, most victims will list all the damages that result in financial loss to them. Their damaged vehicle, their medical losses, their hours missed from work; most people think of loss first in terms of money.
The reality is that loss following an accident can seep into many areas of your life. While your finances may be your biggest worry, in the short term there can be much bigger impacts from an accident that can affect you for the remainder of your life.
A personal injury accident can give rise to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cause financial loss that you can measure with relative ease in terms of money. Non-economic damages, on the contrary, are harder to quantify in terms of money.
However, for purposes of an insurance claim or lawsuit, money is what you demand or seek to compensate you for the losses in these categories. This is because you cannot undo or reimburse an individual for these types of losses and in some cases, there may be no full recovery for the pain and suffering you endure during and after an accident.
When a negligent party causes such devastation to an individual, the law recognizes that the victim deserves compensation.
No amount of money can compensate for the harm you experience because of an accident. Some victims face life-changing injuries that money cannot heal or undo. However, it is nevertheless your right to seek compensation for these injuries.
Common examples of pain and suffering following a personal injury include:
- Pain from injuries
- Pain that results from medical treatment and/or rehabilitation of injuries
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Loss of cognitive abilities or functions after an injury
- Loss of motor skills or limitations in movement
- Permanent scars or disfigurement due to the accident and injuries
- Impacts to your personal relationships due to your injuries or mental state
- Overall loss of quality of life
Will an Insurer or Other Party Pay for Your Pain and Suffering Damages Without a Lawyer?
Insurance companies do not like pain and suffering damages. They will not volunteer to pay for them and in cases where they bother to make an offer to a victim for these damages, it is an often-nominal amount that is insignificant in comparison to your injuries.
Your best and only option to seek the maximum compensation for pain and suffering in your case is with the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Attorneys understand the ins and out of pain and suffering damages and other recoverable losses in a personal injury lawsuit.
It may come as a surprise to some victims when they learn that the amount of pain and suffering damages they may be eligible for in their case can sometimes be as high as or in some cases exceed the economic damages in their case. Pain and suffering is not a loss that is expendable or worthwhile to overlook. The benefits of hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will appear when it comes time to calculate the damages you are eligible for, including for pain and suffering losses.
If you try to go forward in your case by yourself, you will lack the support and backing to know what amount of money you may deserve. Furthermore, proving pain and suffering damages to an insurer and gathering the support necessary to establish the extent of your losses is not an easy task.
Insurance companies will often depreciate a victim’s injuries and assume that you will make a full recovery when, in many cases, that is not possible. You need a lawyer that will fight for you and will demand an amount of pain and suffering damages that most closely aligns with the actual extent of the impacts you will experience because of your injuries in your current life and for the future.
How Can You Prove Pain and Suffering Damages?
It is not enough to say you have suffered or that your injuries are painful. Only you know the extent of what you have gone through, and words alone are not enough to communicate what the experience was like or the overwhelming impacts you face day in and day out.
To file a claim for pain and suffering damages to an insurance company or other party in an accident, you must show proof of those damages. It is difficult to sometimes find the sufficient proof you need to support the damages you seek, but a personal injury attorney can find the evidence to substantiate your pain and suffering after an accident and build a strong case.
A personal injury lawyer will work side by side with you to first and foremost understand what your injuries are, your timeline for recovery, and the lasting effects you will expect in the future due to the injuries. There are many ways to show proof of pain and suffering damages, while there is no one answer that is a catchall to proving these types of damages; a strong case will gather many sources of evidence to prove the losses to you.
Examples of evidence to prove pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case include:
- Medical records
- Testimony of experts
- Your diagnosis and prognosis
- Testimony of loved ones
- Your own testimony and experience
- Mental health records
How Can a Lawyer Help You Get the Compensation for Pain and Suffering You Deserve?
A personal injury attorney’s role is to represent you against insurers or at-fault parties to try and help you seek the maximum compensation possible in your case. An attorney will help you build your case and the support for your claim that is necessary to increase the likelihood an insurance company will offer you a settlement that accounts for as many of your losses as possible, including for your pain and suffering. Lawyers can help you from the inception of a personal injury matter along each step of the process from preparing and filing a claim to the point of helping you reach a successful resolution in your case.
Actions a personal attorney will take to help you seek pain and suffering damages and other losses after an injury include:
- Evaluating your case and who may be liable to you
- Understanding your injuries and the challenges you face
- Calculating the losses that account for your current and future impacts
- Preparing and filing your insurance claim for damages
- Building a strong case and gathering the evidence to prove each aspect of your case
- Using their experience and skills to negotiate the best outcome possible for your case
- Fighting for your rights under the law and filing a personal injury lawsuit if you are unable to reach an acceptable settlement agreement with the insurer or at-fault party in your case
What Additional Damages May You Be Eligible for in a Personal Injury Case?
Pain and suffering can be a significant portion of your losses in a personal injury claim or lawsuit, but it is only a portion of the damages you can recover following an injury accident. In cases where a victim experiences pain and suffering from their injuries, they are also likely to accrue significant loss economically from their injuries and damage due to the accident. A strong personal injury case will account for every damage you sustain to maximize the compensation you deserve under the law.
Additional damages commonly part of a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Future economic impacts from your injuries
- Property damage