How Much Do You Get for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?
Lost wages and medical bills are not the only way in which you and your family can be harmed in a car accident. Undoubtedly, you will also suffer “pain and suffering” in the aftermath of your crash. This pain and suffering can feel as debilitating as your physical injuries and can last even after you reach your maximum physical recovery. Just like medical bills, lost wages, and prescription drug costs, you are entitled to monetary damages to address the pain and suffering you endure as a result of the car crash. How much you may be able to recover – and how you go about increasing the likelihood that you recover the maximum amount for your pain and suffering – are legitimate questions that you and your car crash lawyer should explore together.
Pain and Suffering is a Compensable Loss in a Car Crash Lawsuit
The general principle is this: you are entitled to recover monetary damages in an amount that will compensate you for both the economic and noneconomic harm you suffer. So long as a particular loss is directly caused by or a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the at-fault driver’s careless behavior, the laws of each state will enable you to recover compensation. Economic losses include those monetary expenses you incur or will incur and include medical bills, lost wages, prescription drug costs, the cost of assistive devices, and other similar costs. Noneconomic losses include those “losses” that are difficult to quantify in terms of dollars and cents because of their subjective value. Pain and suffering is one such noneconomic loss.
What are Damages for “Pain and Suffering”?
“Pain and suffering” damages are monetary amounts given to you in a car crash settlement or lawsuit to recognize the reality of the physical, emotional, and mental pain and anguish you endured as the result of an accident caused by another’s careless acts. Anyone who has been in physical pain (broken bones, bruises, etc.) can attest to the fact that these injuries take a physical toll on you. You may not be able to sleep or engage in normal, everyday activities like getting dressed without bad pain. Mental anguish can come in the form of nightmares, anxiety, and other trauma you experience that keeps you from living your life. And, emotional pain and suffering encompasses the sadness, anger, and other similar emotions that rob you of your ability to be happy. In any given car wreck, you may experience one or all of these different types of “pain and suffering.”
How Much is My “Pain and Suffering” Worth?
While it is clear and well-established that your pain and suffering is a compensable loss in a car wreck lawsuit, the question of how much compensation is appropriate for your pain and suffering is trickier to answer. This is because the “value” of one’s pain and suffering is quite subjective and will differ from person to person and case to case. For example, consider two similarly-situated individuals who are involved in separate car wrecks. Each suffers the same types of injuries and claims they suffer the same “pain and suffering.” It is not uncommon nor unusual for one of these injury victims to recover substantially more compensation for “pain and suffering” than the other victim. This is because the actual amount of compensation you receive for your pain and suffering depends on the judge’s or jury’s evaluation of a number of circumstances:
- The permanency of your pain and suffering: Any car wreck can leave you with lasting mental and emotional trauma, but higher compensation awards are generally given to those who will experience some amount of physical pain for a prolonged period (or those whose pain will be a permanent fixture in their lives going forward);
- The intensity of your pain and suffering: Pain and suffering of whatever type that is more intense will generally be compensated at a greater rate than less severe pain and suffering (think of a sharp, stabbing pain as opposed to a dull ache);
- The quality of your life: Pain and suffering can limit your ability to engage in the sorts of activities you once enjoyed. In some cases, you may not be able to return to your pastimes and hobbies at all. The greater the impact of your pain and suffering on your quality of life, the greater amount of compensation you should expect. For example, a person who used to compete in marathons who is now prohibited from running due to the pain in his back can expect a greater amount of compensation than the person who can still run but may not be able to run as fast or must take frequent breaks along the way; and/or
- The impact of your pain and suffering on your family: Pain and suffering do not just impact you alone: your family, children, and/or caregivers will also experience difficulties in providing you care and comfort. Pain and suffering that makes life more difficult for these individuals closest to you (i.e., your spouse must provide you with hourly care in order to effectively manage your pain) will be compensated more than pain you can manage yourself.
Proving how much compensation is enough to address your pain and suffering is a delicate task and involves asking the judge or jury to consider the nature of your pain and suffering and assign a “dollar value” to it. While your attorney may bring up past awards to illustrate what similarly-situated individuals may have obtained, ultimately your damages award for pain and suffering will (and should be) unique to you.
An Experienced Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
At Parker Waichman LLP, we are committed to helping you obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible for all of your losses and injuries, including your pain and suffering. We have successfully helped countless car accident injury victims across the country: let us help you. Contact us by phone by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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