What You Need To Know About Pain And Suffering
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Mar 07, 2011 in Advice
Weeks after your car accident, there is still pain. You may have fear of driving, or debilitating and even disfiguring injuries. Work may be out of the question for the foreseeable future. The other driver’s insurance already paid out for the damage to the car and initial bills, but after that, are you on your own?
Fortunately, the short answer is no. In many cases, the court system provides for the injuries that linger after the initial impact of the accident. These damages are for “pain and suffering,” and are called compensatory damages.
What is it?
In the Northwestern Law Review article “Putting a Price on Pain and Suffering Damages: A Critique of the Current Approaches and a Preliminary Proposal for Change”, law professor Ronen Avraham describes compensatory damages as the social and economic price that the courts order a defendant to pay as a direct result of actions leading to the incident causing the injury.
The amount awarded by the court is carefully calculated using formulas and theories that weigh the injuries and their impact on your life. The factors that matter most when determining the monetary value of the pain and suffering depends on the type of injury, the severity of it and the length of time that the injury is expected to impact your life.
What does it cover?
Pain and suffering damages are thus awarded for automobile accidents and also accidents cause by negligence. Intentional acts can also lead to a claim for compensatory damages. These are direct results of the accident or incident. Other factors considered are loss of income, profits, and mental stability. These are considered consequential factors and are also part of the damage award. In figuring the amount of damages that is owed, the attorneys and adjusters on both sides will look your life before and after the injury to determine the impact—and the subsequent damage award.
How can I help my case?
Document everything. Calculating pain and suffering involves turning non-numerical factors (mental state, ability, injuries, etc.) into a dollar amount that will adequately compensate the injuries. To do this, they need all of the data available on the injury and other factors surrounding it. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by getting detailed reports from the doctor, because these reports are often requested during court proceedings.
Ask the doctor to specify dates and times wherever necessary, especially when calculating the amount of time it will take to heal. Visit the doctor for all new aches and pains, as they may be related. When asked, provide a very detailed account of your work. Do not try to hide details. Furthermore, if the doctor declares you fit for work, go. Report back with any difficulties afterward. Failing to comply with doctor's orders could hinder your case.
What if I already signed something?
Be sure to keep a copy of everything, and consult your attorney as soon afterward as possible. The document may or may not be applicable to compensatory damages.
Who else can I sue for pain and suffering?
You can only sue the people directly responsible for the injuries. You cannot, for example, sue the police department for failing to send more than one car to your accident—unless doing so caused your injury to worsen in some way. Even then, there may be complications. Explain the situation to your personal injury attorney. He can tell you who is at fault and how much you may be entitled to.
In fact, consult a personal injury attorney before doing anything outside of getting your injuries treated, and do not sign anything before talking to your attorney. Many people will even retain an attorney before speaking with the insurance adjuster.
Just remember that the insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount of money paid out on the insurance claim. Fortunately, your attorney’s job is to ensure that you receive the best compensation that the law will allow. It makes sense to consult him first.