Pain and suffering is one of the biggest buzzwords in personal injury law – and one of the most ambiguous. There are many different types of damages victims can recover from insurance companies in a personal injury case. Some are easy to quantify, others not so much. Pain and suffering compensation falls into the latter.
Damages in personal injury cases are generally grouped into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are more straightforward with clear paper trails. These include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.
Non-economic damages do not have a clear price tag on them. This would involve decreased quality of life, loss of companionship, and of course, pain and suffering.
To answer the question directly, insurance companies should cover compensation for pain and suffering. But unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it might seem. In this post, we discuss everything you need to know about pain and suffering in personal injury cases. Let’s jump in.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a general term for damages that do not include direct financial figures. After an accident, you may be faced with medical bills, lost wages, or property damages. These economic damages are easy to determine – as you and your attorney can simply look at the value or cost. Pain and suffering involves all of the other hardships stemming from the accident.
A pain and suffering claim can involve many different factors. Here are some of the big ones we normally see:
Recovery from Injuries
Recovering from an injury can be extremely difficult – depending on the severity. For example, if you broke your leg in the accident, you may be faced with ongoing pain as the injury heals. You may even struggle with pain later on as you resume day-to-day activities. Your pain and suffering compensation should account for how long your recovery took – and the difficulties you faced along the way.
Not all damages from an accident are physical. Many victims in personal injury cases suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression after the incident. Emotional pain and suffering can be made worse if the accident resulted in a loss of independence. This is common after head or spinal injuries.
Physical/Mental Limitations Due to the Accident
Some severe injuries can alter the way you live forever. For example, spinal cord injuries can potentially leave you paralyzed or worse. These catastrophic injuries can prevent you from performing your job and earning a living. This should be accounted for in the pain and suffering compensation you receive from the insurance company.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
A personal injury could potentially limit or prevent you from doing the activities you enjoy or spending time with the people you love. For example, suffering nerve damage in a car accident may impair your ability to go on family hikes, canoeing trips, or anything else that brought you happiness. These losses can result in emotional distress or depression.
How Insurance Companies Cover Pain and Suffering Compensation
Compensation for pain and suffering is usually calculated into the total settlement. However, the pain and suffering claim is one of the most disputed aspects of personal injury cases. You’ll need an attorney to help calculate these damages – and negotiate with the insurance companies to get it.
Trying to navigate a pain and suffering claim without a lawyer will be nearly impossible. Insurance companies have many tactics and loopholes to avoid compensating victims. A good personal injury attorney will make sure you don’t fall victim to these tricks and fight for the maximum amount.
How to Determine How Much You Deserve for Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensation is a gray area. Understanding how much you deserve is not always clear-cut. Your attorney will ask a series of questions to figure out how much to pursue in the claim, which may include:
- Do you have significant pain from the injury?
Pain can take several different forms. You may have excruciating physical pain that makes daily life difficult. Or, you may have mild, ongoing pain that leaves you drained and unable to focus on anything else (like your job). Be open with your attorney. Tell them exactly how you feel and how it affects everyday life.
- Is the injury known to cause significant pain?
Injuries come in all shapes and sizes. Additionally, certain injuries can get worse as time goes on. For instance, back and neck injuries can have lingering effects that last for years. To answer this question, you will likely need input from a medical professional to assess these pain and suffering damages.
- Have you faced any mental health issues?
Some injuries can have long-term mental health consequences. You may have anxiety, PTSD, or depression following the incident. Many people experience anxiety when driving following a car accident. These mental health issues can decrease your quality of life – which needs to be accounted for in the pain and suffering compensation.
- What limitations are you facing due to the accident?
Injuries can create plenty of limitations in your life – especially if you live an active lifestyle. A broken foot can limit you in most types of physical activity, and adjusting to a sedentary lifestyle can be very difficult. More serious injuries can alter your life forever.For example, the effects of a traumatic brain injury can linger for a lifetime. You might notice changes in your work life and social life following the accident. This is another area where you need to be honest with your attorney. They will use this information to fight for a fair settlement.
- How long will these limitations last?
The recovery times for injuries vary. Broken bones and lacerations can heal in a matter of weeks. These injuries are frustrating, but they can be overcome. Other injuries can change your life forever, cause you to lose friends, and miss out on the activities you love.Be open with your doctor and your attorney about the lasting impact of your injury. Any issues that impair your ability to enjoy life to the fullest must be taken into account as you seek pain and suffering compensation.
- Will your injury require future medical treatment?
Future medical treatment is generally viewed as an economic damage. However, future treatment will likely result in more pain and suffering – and possibly more limitations. Discuss the potential for future treatment with your attorney. Try to get estimated medical expenses from your provider, too. These costs will all factor into your pain and suffering claim.
Seek Out a Personal Injury Attorney
Your first step in seeking pain and suffering compensation is getting in touch with a personal injury lawyer. Earning the maximum amount from insurance companies will be nearly impossible without one.
Now, many victims believe they cannot afford a good lawyer to manage their claim – they are wrong. These lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. They make a percentage of the total settlement AFTER the insurance company pays it out. Victims do not pay their lawyer a penny upfront to take the case.
In other words, everyone can afford to hire a personal injury attorney.
Do you still have questions about pain and suffering – or personal injury law? Midwest Injury Lawyers is here to point you in the right direction. Even if you don’t have a valid case, we are happy to answer your questions about the legal process.
Call (312) 786-5881 or send us a message online to get started.