Although many people have heard the term pain and suffering, few understand what it really means, especially in litigation.
Physical Pain and Suffering
The first type of pain and suffering is caused by actual physical injuries.
It includes the pain and discomfort felt at the time of the accident and immediately after.
However, it also includes the pain that you may feel in the future and the disability you may suffer due to injuries you suffered after someone else was negligent.
You can suffer physical pain in an accident that may not be noticed until days, sometimes weeks later.
Neck strain, jarring of your back or sprains may not appear immediately.
Examples of Physical Pain and Suffering
If you are in a car accident and suffer multiple broken bones, you could be awarded compensation for physical pain and suffering due to the pain you endured while your bones healed.
If you suffer a back strain and are unable to exercise for several months or the strain causes you to miss an important event, you may be eligible for compensation.
Mental Pain and Suffering
Mental pain and suffering results from an injury, but is actually a side effect of physical damage.
It can include effects like emotional distress, mental anguish, fear, anger, anxiety, shock, loss of the enjoyment of life and humiliation.
Any type of negative emotion you feel after an accident can be attributed to mental pain and suffering.
In some cases, mental pain and suffering are considered emotional distress.
If mental pain and suffering become too severe, it can lead to depression, loss of appetite, sexual dysfunction and sleep disorders.
Some people who suffer from mental pain and suffering may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Like physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering can include future effects of an accident as well.
Examples of Mental Pain and Suffering
If you suffered several broken bones after an accident, you may become depressed and angry because you are limited in what you can do.
You may also suffer from sleep deprivation or loss of appetite.
Your back strain may have caused you to become angry and frustrated because you cannot keep yourself in shape.
You may suffer from depression because you missed an important event.
You may feel tense and nervous when you drive, lashing out at others in the car if they distract you.
All of these situations could lead to compensation for mental pain and suffering.
However, because mental pain and suffering may be difficult to prove, it is important to discuss your mental state with an attorney.
Proving Pain and Suffering
It is easier to prove physical pain and suffering as you will more than likely have the testimony of a doctor who will confirm your physical injuries.
Mental pain and suffering is more difficult to prove.
If you visit a psychologist, therapist or counselor, you may have a better chance of proving your case.
Sometimes, a family doctor can write a narrative confirming your mental distress.
You can also ask loved ones, friends, co-workers or employer to write letters explaining how your mental state has changed after an accident.
Keeping a journal is another way to document the pain and suffering after an accident.
Keep a list of all prescriptions your doctor orders after the accident.
If any are for anxiety, depression or sleep aids, you will be better able to document mental distress.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
There are often no guidelines for awarding pain and suffering.
This is because there are many factors that go into determining the value of someone’s pain and suffering.
- Value as a witness
- Your credibility
- Your consistency in talking about your injury
- The belief that you may be exaggerating your pain and suffering
- Your physician’s support of your injuries
- Any mistruth you may tell, even if it is minor
- That your injuries are consistent with the accident and that the diagnosis seems reasonable
There are some theories that insurance companies will offer to settle a case based on what is known as “multipliers.”
A multiplier is a percentage, between one and four times the value of your damages, offered as a payment for pain and suffering.
For instance, if you incur $5,000 in medical bills, an insurance company may offer you $15,000 for your pain and suffering if they use a multiplier of three.
However, this is a very rough estimate and it does not apply in all cases, which is why it is important to discuss your case with an attorney.
Contact VanDerGinst Law
We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your car accident case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win.
Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391.
The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.
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