Victims of serious accidents that result from others’ negligence may be entitled to recover various types of monetary damages. These damages may include compensation for past and future pain and suffering, both physical and mental.
To recover monetary compensation, including monetary damages for pain and suffering, an accident victim must establish various legal elements of proof in their claim or lawsuit.
Since every accident case is different, the monetary compensation an accident victim recovers for pain, suffering, and other losses will vary based on the circumstances.
One of the most important steps you can take towards maximizing your pain and suffering damages is to retain an experienced Edmonton personal injury lawyer who can handle your legal matters.
Your lawyer will first review the circumstances of your accident with you, determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for monetary damages, and, if so, file a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf.
Your lawyer may then field the settlement negotiations from insurance company adjusters and advise whether you should accept a particular settlement offer from the insurance company.
If the insurance company does not fairly compensate you for your accident-related injuries, pain, and suffering, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit in the state court system on your behalf and litigate your case to achieve the most favourable case resolution possible.
Throughout the entire process, your lawyer can answer all your legal questions and work to maximize the financial recovery receipt for your pain, suffering, inconvenience, and other accident-related losses.
Injuries That Accident Victims Frequently Suffer
In serious accidents, individuals may suffer injuries and other medical complications that leave them incapacitated for a significant amount of time.
An accident victim who sustains a permanent injury may need to undergo continuing medical treatment, physical therapy, rehabilitation, or pain management on an extended basis.
The injuries that an accident victim suffers will depend upon various factors, including the type of accident that happens, the amount of force involved in the accident, and the specific accident circumstances.
Common injuries that accident victims may suffer include traumatic head and brain damage, internal organ injuries, internal bleeding, bone fractures, rib fractures, spinal cord injuries, complete and incomplete paralysis injuries, eye injuries, mouth and teeth injuries, soft tissue contusions, and death.
Following an accident in which you have suffered injuries, always obtain the medical treatment that you need and that you follow through with all your medical provider’s treatment recommendations.
Doing so not only helps increase your chances of making a full recovery but it shows the at-fault party’s insurance company that your injuries are serious and that you are taking your medical treatment seriously.
As a result, the insurance company might be more willing to make you a favourable monetary settlement offer for your pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
While you concentrate on recovering fully from your injuries, your personal injury lawyer can start handling the legal components of your case and gathering the documents necessary to file a successful personal injury claim on your behalf.
Elements of Proof in a Personal Injury Claim
To recover monetary damages in an accident case, including monetary compensation for physical and mental pain and suffering, the accident victim must fully satisfy their legal burden of proof:
- They must establish that the at-fault party owed them a legal duty of care. For example, in a car accident scenario, drivers owe other motorists a duty to drive safely and carefully under the circumstances and to obey all traffic laws and regulations.
- The accident victim must show that the at-fault party violated or breached their legal duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances. For example, in a car accident case, the other driver might have violated one or more traffic laws, exhibited road rage, or operated their vehicle while under the illegal influence of drugs or alcohol. The accident victim must then demonstrate that as a direct result of the other party’s negligent behaviour, the subject accident occurred.
- The accident victim needs to show that as a direct result of the accident, they suffered one or more physical injuries, such as those named above.
Establishing this legal burden of proof can sometimes be challenging, but a personal injury lawyer can retain one or more experts to testify as witnesses in your case.
For example, if the insurance company is disputing liability for the accident, an expert accident reconstructionist may help your case.
An accident reconstructionist can reconstruct the accident after reviewing police reports, visiting the accident scene, speaking with witnesses, viewing camera footage, and synthesizing all of this information. They can then draft a report which describes exactly how, in their opinion, the accident occurred and who caused the accident.
Similarly, a medical expert, such as a treating healthcare provider, can causally relate your claimed injury or injuries to the subject accident. They can also testify about the pain and suffering that you previously experienced and that you may experience in the future due to your physical injuries.
Finally, a medical expert might testify that as a direct result of the accident, you suffered one or more permanent injuries, which are unlikely to improve with time.
Ways to Prove Pain and Suffering Following an Accident
In addition to suffering physical injuries in a serious accident, accident victims may experience several types of pain and suffering.
First, an accident victim may experience physical pain and suffering due to the severity of the injuries they sustained. However, they may also experience mental pain and suffering along with emotional anguish.
Mental symptoms may include post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as a result of their accident-related experiences. For example, a victim of a car accident may experience such trauma after their accident that they cannot return to the same intersection where the accident occurred.
As with the other legal elements of a personal injury claim or lawsuit, the injured accident victim must prove their pain and suffering to recover monetary compensation in their case.
Some of the most common ways of proving past and future pain and suffering, both physical and mental, include:
- Retaining a qualified medical expert to testify about past/anticipated pain and suffering that is likely, given the accident victim’s physical and mental injuries
- Retaining a qualified mental health professional to testify about the accident victim’s anxiety levels and whether or not they are likely to continue as time passes
- Having the accident victim take the witness stand themselves to testify about their current symptoms and pain levels and about how their pain and suffering have affected their overall life and well-being, including their ability to participate in social or recreational activities as well as spend time with family or friends
- Having a friend, co-worker, neighbour, family member, or another individual who knows the accident victim well take the witness stand and testify as a fact witness at trial, explaining how, in their observation, the accident victim’s pain levels, moods, quality of life, and activity levels have changed since the accident date
What Are the Common Types of Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
Individuals who suffer injuries in an accident may recover various monetary damages, assuming they can fully satisfy the legal elements of their claim or lawsuit.
Before getting to pain and suffering compensation, injured accident victims may be eligible to recover various economic damages. These damages compensate accident victims for their lost income if they had to miss time from work after their accident. If the accident victim had to switch jobs and accept a lower pay rate, they may recover compensation for their loss of earning capacity.
In addition to recovering economic damages, accident victims may recover compensation for their intangible losses. These damages compensate accident victims for the various types of pain and suffering that they experience due to the accident and their injuries.
Some of the most common pain and suffering damages that injured accident victims may recover include mental and emotional anguish and distress, loss of spousal consortium and companionship, lost quality of life, loss of the ability to use a body part (such as due to a paralysis injury or spinal cord injury), permanent disability or disfigurement, and permanent cognitive impairments.
A personal injury lawyer in your area may give you a monetary range for the likely settlement or verdict value of your case. That way, you can develop realistic expectations about how much your case is actually worth and what you can expect to recover in pain and suffering damages via settlement or litigation.
Throughout the process, your lawyer can aggressively litigate with insurance company adjusters for favourable settlement and compensation on your behalf.
If the insurance company refuses to offer you fair monetary damages, then your lawyer may file a lawsuit in court and, if necessary, take your case to a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding, such as mediation or binding arbitration.
At a mediation hearing, a neutral mediator can facilitate ongoing settlement discussions between the parties. At binding arbitration, an arbitrator will listen to the evidence that the parties present and decide how much monetary compensation (including pain and suffering compensation) to award the injured accident victim.
Many people believe that any compensation for pain and suffering or other intangible losses is a bonus, so they will accept any amount offered.
However, the law entitles you to these damages in addition to economic damages, and an insurance company should never shortchange you. Never accept a settlement offer for pain and suffering wihtout a lawyer reviewing it first.
Your lawyer will guide you to make intelligent, informed decisions throughout your case. They know what pain and suffering should be worth in your case, and they will negotiate for the full amount.
Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer Near You Today
If you suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from another party’s negligence, you may recover monetary damages for your physical and mental pain and suffering.
However, to maximize your chances of recovering the monetary compensation you need, you need to retain an experienced lawyer to represent you in your case as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you may inadvertently waive your ability to receive the monetary damages you deserve.
Under the statute of limitations, accident victims have only two years, beginning on their accident date, to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking monetary damages for their injuries.
In almost all cases, if they file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, they will no longer be eligible to make a claim for monetary damages. In fact, if they go to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has already expired, the court will promptly dismiss their lawsuit.
Given the short statute of limitations, retain a personal injury lawyer who can represent you immediately. Your lawyer can enter an appearance in court right away and can start aggressively advocating for your legal rights and interests.