Victims of motor vehicle crashes, slip and falls, and other accidents that result from negligence can recover monetary compensation for their physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering. In addition to recovering damages for the pain and suffering they experienced from the date of their accident up to the present, they can recover damages for their anticipated future pain and suffering. For more information on how lawyers calculate pain and suffering, reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
Future pain and suffering damages are available when a health care provider states in writing—and to a reasonable degree of medical probability—that the accident victim sustained a permanent disability or injury.
No two accidents—or accident victims—are the same. Therefore, the pain and suffering damages that an accident victim can recover will vary significantly from one personal injury matter to another. Generally speaking, pain and suffering compensation depends on the accident victim’s injuries and the impact of those injuries on their daily lives.
To maximize the damages that you recover in your accident case, you should retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you as soon as possible. Your lawyer can file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and pursue the pain and suffering compensation that you deserve to recover for your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately for your pain and suffering, your lawyer can force their hand by filing a lawsuit in the civil court system.
When Are Pain and Suffering Damages Available?
An accident victim can recover compensation for past and future pain and suffering if they suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence. A person or entity behaves negligently when they act unreasonably under the circumstances in existence at that time. For example, when a property owner fails to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, and someone injuries themselves in a slip and fall, then the property owner may be on the hook for negligence.
In addition to slip and fall accidents, accident victims may recover pain and suffering compensation after:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Negligent security incidents on someone else’s premises
- Boating accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Instances of medical negligence or malpractice
If you have suffered injuries in one of these occurrences that resulted from another’s negligence, your lawyer can determine if you are eligible to recover pain and suffering damages. Your lawyer can then file the necessary claim or lawsuit for you and work to maximize the compensation that you recover in your case.
Injuries that Lead to Pain and Suffering Compensation
Accident victims who suffered various injuries may be eligible to recover compensation for their suffering, pain, and inconvenience, beginning on the date of the occurrence. Just about any injury can lead to a certain amount of pain and suffering—even if it’s minimal.
Generally speaking, the more severe an injury and the more extensive the accident victim’s medical treatment, the higher the pain and suffering damages that an accident victim can recover in their injury case.
Common injuries that can lead to a claim for past and future pain and suffering damages include:
- Bone fractures
- Soft tissue injuries, including whiplash
- Permanent scarring that results from cuts and lacerations
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paralysis injuries
- Traumatic brain and head injuries
Suppose you have suffered one or more of these injuries in a recent accident. In that case, a personal injury lawyer in your area can determine if you are eligible to bring a claim for pain and suffering. If so, your lawyer can file the claim on your behalf and work to recover the compensation you deserve to feel whole again.
Filing a Pain and Suffering Claim in a Personal Injury Case
To recover pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case, the accident victim must satisfy their legal burden. The accident victim plaintiff has the burden of proving all of the legal elements of their claim. That at-fault person or entity does not need to prove anything in a personal injury case.
To recover damages—including pain and suffering compensation—an accident victim needs to establish:
- That the at-fault party acted unreasonably under the circumstances and violated their legal duty of care
- That as a result of this violation, the accident occurred
- That the accident victim’s injuries directly resulted from the accident
- That as a direct result of their injuries, the accident victim experienced pain, suffering, inconvenience, and other damages
A skilled lawyer in your area can help you prove the necessary legal elements to obtain monetary compensation for your physical pain and suffering.
Types of Recoverable Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit
When accident victims suffer injuries, they will very often need to undergo medical treatment—often for a significant time. They may need to go to the hospital immediately after their accident, attend regular medical appointments and physical therapy sessions, and undergo a procedure, such as surgery. This medical treatment is frequently painful, and an accident victim’s symptoms may continue well into the future.
An accident victim can recover compensation for their pain and suffering from the date of their accident and beyond. These damages compensate accident victims for their physical symptoms and their mental anguish and distress. They can also receive damages for all of their inconveniences, such as having to attend regular medical appointments and physical therapy sessions.
Some injuries also result in significant lifestyle changes for the accident victim. For example, the accident victim may be unable to take part in the recreational or social activities that they once enjoyed before their accident, such as playing sports, going to the gym, or socializing with friends.
In addition, the accident victim’s injuries might prevent them from performing daily living tasks, such as brushing their hair or getting dressed in the morning.
Finally, an accident victim’s injuries may prevent them from using a specific body part or a group of body parts. For example, a spinal cord injury may completely or partially paralyze the body. A paralysis injury might prevent them from using one or more body parts, such as their hands, feet, arms, or legs.
Moreover, an accident victim who suffers a severe injury in their accident may recover compensation for future pain, suffering, and inconvenience. To prove that an accident victim will suffer a permanent injury or impairment, a health care provider will need to state—in writing—that a particular injury is causally related to the accident, is permanent, and will affect an accident victim’s life for the foreseeable future.
Many health care providers assign a specific percentage to their permanency ratings—especially in workers’ compensation cases where the accident victim suffers an injury or illness while they are on the job. For example, a healthcare provider might state that an accident victim sustained a 10 percent permanent impairment to their neck or back as a direct result of the subject accident.
Amount of Pain and Suffering Compensation that an Accident Victim Can Recover
The amount of pain and suffering damages that an accident victim can recover in their case depends upon the nature and extent of their injuries. When it comes to quantifying past pain and suffering damages at trial, the personal injury lawyer handling the case might assign a dollar amount for each day since the accident.
They may do the same thing going forward—accounting for the accident victim’s life expectancy—when asking the jury for future pain and suffering damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can employ the necessary tactics to get you the monetary compensation you deserve.
Who Determines the Amount of Pain and Suffering Damages to Award an Accident Victim Plaintiff?
In a personal injury claim, the insurance company will determine what pain and suffering damages to award the accident victim. In most instances, the accident victim’s lawyer deals with the insurance company for the at-fault individual. However, if the at-fault person did not have insurance at the time of the accident, or if they were uninsured, the accident victim can involve their own insurance company.
First, a personal injury lawyer will send a demand letter to the insurance company adjuster handling the case. Along with making a settlement demand, the demand package will include copies of relevant documents in the case, such as copies of the accident victim’s medical records, lost wage documents, and photographs of injuries and property damage.
The insurance company will use all of these documents to evaluate the case and determine the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim. If the insurance company adjuster sees that the accident victim underwent a significant amount of medical treatment, they may award more in the way of pain and suffering compensation.
In some instances, though, insurance companies and their adjusters are unreasonable and refuse to fairly compensate accident victims for their injuries and damages. When that happens, the personal injury lawyer handling the case will need to file a lawsuit in the court system.
However, just because a lawyer files a lawsuit does not mean that the case cannot settle. In fact, most personal injury cases resolve via settlement, many right before the trial starts. If the case has to go to a jury trial, the jury members will decide the outcome of all of the disputed issues at that time.
Although the parties to a personal injury case sometimes dispute fault for the accident, the most heavily debated issue is that of damages. At a jury trial, the jury members will decide what, if any, damages to award the accident victim plaintiff.
They will also determine the damages to award for the accident victim’s pain, suffering, and inconvenience. A judge will instruct the jurors on the law that they should apply when deciding the issue of damages. Jurors are only supposed to consider the evidence in the case, including the accident victim’s live courtroom testimony, medical records, and more, when deciding on a damages award.
Instead of taking a personal injury case to a jury trial, the parties may decide on one or more types of alternative dispute resolution. At a mediation hearing, for example, a neutral mediator who has no stake in the outcome of the case meets with the parties and facilitates settlement discussions. The mediator might go back and forth during a give-and-take session to see if the parties can resolve the matter amicably. If the case reaches its resolution at mediation, a jury trial will not need to take place.
In addition to mediation, the parties might pursue binding arbitration to resolve their claim. At a binding arbitration hearing, the parties present evidence in the case, much as they will in the courtroom.
For example, the accident victim plaintiff will typically testify, and the accident victim’s lawyer will introduce all of the relevant medical records and proof of losses directly into evidence. After a binding arbitration hearing, the designated arbitrator will decide the damages in the case. After a claim proceeds to arbitration, it will not need to go to a jury trial.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident that occurred due to negligence, your lawyer can help you file a claim or lawsuit and litigate your case in court. Your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer or litigate your case by filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer can pursue the pain and suffering compensation you deserve for the injuries she suffered in your accident.
Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer About Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Today
Pursuing pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case without legal representation is easier said than done. The insurance company is never on your side and will do everything possible to deny you your deserved compensation.
A skilled personal injury lawyer in your area will zealously advocate for you during settlement negotiations and in court to help you recover damages for your suffering, pain, and inconvenience. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.