If you were severely injured in a vehicle crash, you may be wondering, can you sue for pain and suffering after a car accident? Compensation for pain and suffering will be part of your legal claim. It’s often a large portion of the damages accident victims ask for in their lawsuits. Damages measure the harm caused by an accident in dollars. Without damages, there is no negligence claim. Kaplan Lawyers understands the pain and suffering our clients endure. We work hard to make sure cases are resolved with the best outcome possible. There are economic and non-economic damages in a negligence claim. Economic damages are the past and future costs of your injuries. They can include the value of your car if it was totaled, your medical bills, your past lost wages and future lost pay. Non-economic damages aren’t easily added up like bills or lost wages.
Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident Covers Many Things
One type of non-economic damages is compensation for pain and suffering. This compensation covers the negative emotions you suffer due to the physical pain and the trauma of the accident. It can be:
- The fear and depression you feel because you might not fully recover
- Your concern about how it may limit you in the future
- Your worry about how the costs of medical care and rehabilitation, along with earning less money, will impact you and your family
- The anger you feel about the accident and changes to your life
- The humiliation you may feel if others can see your physical limitations and scarring
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This involves intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings due to your trauma but which happen long after it ended. You may relive the accident through flashbacks or nightmares. You can feel sadness, fear, anger, and may feel detached from other people.
These are examples of outward evidence of pain and suffering:
- Your home life suffers.
- You’re not performing as well at work.
- Your daily routine is disrupted.
- Your personal relationships suffer.
Pain and suffering from a car accident can also be shown through photos and personal journals. Testimony by family and friends can be used. We often create videos of our clients living an average day to show their struggles, the problems they face, and the pain and suffering they endure. There are other issues connected to the calculation of damages related to pain and suffering. The mental and emotional impact of your accident may affect you physically. Getting good sleep may be a problem. You may lose appetite or overeat. You may suffer from stress headaches. If you are having serious emotional problems, see a mental health professional. You may be better able to cope with your situation, thanks to some help. That professional may also provide significant evidence for your case.
How Much Do You Get for Pain and Suffering? At a Trial, That Depends on the Evidence.
Judges typically don’t give juries detailed directions for coming up with pain and suffering damages. Jury members rely mostly on their common sense, their experiences in life, and what they think would be a fair amount to compensate you. Juries rely on evidence to make their decisions. They will find it credible or not based on their judgment. Your medical records and testimony will be submitted. You, other witnesses, and the rest of the evidence must be consistent and believable for a jury to decide in your favor. Jury members will think about:
- How credible you were on the witness stand
- Whether you seemed to be dramatic or trying too hard get their sympathy
- Whether you seemed to be exaggerating
- Whether your physicians and expert witnesses supported you
- Whether your diagnosis and injuries are consistent with your claims
- Whether documents used as evidence are consistent with your testimony. In medical record notes, do you downplay or minimize pain and suffering? On the witness stand, do you talk about being an emotional wreck?
The bigger the award, the better, but there are limits on juries. According to a recent decision by the New York Appellate Division, Second Department, a judge or an appeals court won’t change the damages found by a jury “unless the award deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation.…” Whether an award is reasonable is measured against prior, similar cases. The courts are not limited to the amounts paid in damages in cases involving similar injuries, but they’re a guide to deciding whether a verdict would be reasonable compensation. When a jury determines the amount of damages you get for pain and suffering, there must be evidence supporting that amount. The jury can’t guess or assume what is best.
How Much Do You Get for Pain and Suffering? If You Settle, That’s Up to You.
Juries don’t decide most accident cases. The cases settle because an agreement is reached between the injured person and the insurance company that covers the person responsible for an accident. With a settlement of a case, the injured person will agree to withdraw any legal claims in exchange for an amount of money from the insurer. When your case settles, it ends there. You will not go to court.
How Are Pain and Suffering Settlement Amounts Calculated?
Formulas are used by insurers to come up with settlement offers. The two sides usually negotiate back and forth until they agree on the terms. Often, insurance companies use the multiplier method to come up with a possible settlement:
- All of your economic damages, including past and future medical bills and lost wages, are added together.
- That sum is multiplied by a factor of from 1.5 to 5.
- More severe injuries with lasting impacts and greater pain and suffering should result in a higher multiplier.
- The multiplier may also go up or down depending on the strength or weakness of your case.
Kaplan Lawyers Can Help If You Have Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident
Bringing a lawsuit because of a car accident can be confusing and complicated. If you are dealing with severe pain and suffering because of an injury in a car accident, one of our skilled attorneys will work to get you the fair compensation you need. The car accident attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers are here to help. Contact us today at (516) 399-2364 to schedule a free case review.