At the heart of every personal injury case, certain factors determine a total settlement demand.
When victims work with a personal injury attorney to develop a claim, there are economic and non-economic losses. Pain and suffering are non-economic, and fairness is an issue that victims pursuing these damages often raise.
Various Accidents and Injuries Mean No Simple Answers
Unfortunately, there is no simple way to value the pain and suffering of an accident victim.
A wide range of factors will determine the ultimate settlement for pain and suffering after an injury you suffered due to someone’s negligent behavior. Since pain and suffering depend so much on the injury, the age of the victim, and other factors, each case requires a separate evaluation. Remember, unlike medical bills, pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages. No bill or invoice can readily quantify the amount of harm suffered.
Claiming Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering refer to the aftereffects of a personal injury. Pain from the injury as well as trauma, anxiety, and shame are common.
Depending on the laws of the state, victims can often claim some of the following (or other) damages for pain and suffering:
- Physical pain and suffering – there is no doubt a broken bone is painful and requires weeks for a victim to heal. However, a victim who suffers burn wounds may have more physical pain and suffering.
- Mental pain or anguish – the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) describes some of the difficulties victims of accidents often face following an injury. Some victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can leave them debilitated.
- Disfigurement – different accidents can result in disfiguring injuries. For example, someone injured in a motorcycle accident often must deal with disfiguring scars. Pain and suffering is hard to put a price on since victims are often embarrassed about how they look. This can lead to additional emotional problems.
As you can see, there is no easy way to put a dollar amount on pain and suffering, as various factors determine the value of your claim.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Fully understanding how much a car accident claim is worth is a complicated issue. You must prove numerous factors to establish your damages claim. This includes proving a claim for the victim’s pain and suffering.
Some of the options a victim has to help their car accident attorney determine their level of pain and suffering include:
- Victim journals – one of the options your personal injury attorney may recommend is asking you to maintain a journal documenting what is occurring during your recovery. This type of journal can help prove the mental anguish and the physical pain you have been suffering. These journals can serve as evidence when seeking a fair settlement for pain and suffering.
- Pain management team – an expert may need to diagnose and evaluate pain from a specific injury. For example, a victim suffering from a whiplash injury can suffer debilitating neck pain for weeks or months following the injury.
- Psychological evaluation – victims with emotional stress following an accident often turn to experienced professionals to help them deal with these problems. Some victims have serious personality changes after an accident as well as other issues. These are relatively common in victims who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
There may be other options for helping your legal team understand your pain and suffering after an accident. You should consider discussing this and work closely with them to ensure a set amount before filing a final demand for settlement.
Insurance Adjusters and Pain and Suffering Claims
Including pain and suffering amounts in a settlement demand may result in questions from an insurance adjuster. Insurance companies generally use a table or computer program to determine how much they will pay for specific injuries in a claim. This is why it is vitally important to work closely with a personal injury lawyer following an injury that someone’s deliberate action or lack of action caused.
Victims should always make sure they have someone who can advocate on their behalf. While an attorney will not guarantee a specific settlement, an attorney’s experience dealing with insurance claims can help you.
Understanding Your Legal Options
When you have suffered an injury, you need to understand your legal options. A victim can only understand these options if an attorney with experience handling similar cases explains them.
Insurance companies have no vested interest in explaining your legal rights or options to you. Insurers know that the more you know, the less negotiating power they have. Remember, every insurance company has a legal team behind them protecting their interests. Part of their interest is in making sure they are paying as little as possible on claims.
Work With a Lawyer Before Filing a Claim
When you consider a claim after an injury, hire an attorney to work with you. Having an attorney willing to negotiate on your behalf can allow you the time you need to recover from your injuries.
An accident injury attorney can also help you understand when an offer is fair considering your injury and your pain and suffering. Do not wait too long to seek legal advice. The sooner you reach out to a personal injury lawyer, the more information you will have about how to seek appropriate compensation for your pain and suffering.