When it comes to suing for pain and suffering in a car accident, it’s important to be aware that you may be facing an uphill battle. Unlike visible injuries or damage to your vehicle, pain and suffering is intangible and therefore difficult to prove.
You deserve compensation for all of damages, including pain and suffering. Below, we discuss how these damages are calculated, and how you can protect your right to compensation. To learn more, speak to a Vancouver WA car accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Loren Scott Etengoff today.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
In addition to the financial strain of dealing with medical bills after a car accident, you may also experience other stresses due to the prolonged pain of injuries and treatment, scarring or disfigurement, or the trauma of the accident itself. Pain and suffering is an umbrella term that covers the following:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Limitations imposed on your life
- Loss of self-esteem and enjoyment of life.
For example, if you suffered a severe burn in a car accident the damage value of the agony you endured may exceed the actual cost of the medical treatment required. You could recover money for the additional discomfort and pain of the burn itself, the required medical treatment, and any scarring or disability that occurred as a result.
Additionally, pain and suffering accounts for everything you have already experienced as well as what you will, with reasonable probability, experience in the future.
How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Washington State?
Contrary to what insurance companies would like you to believe, there is no magic formula to calculate pain and suffering damages. However, since pain and suffering is subjective, it can be difficult to prove, and insurance companies will try to claim that you are over-inflating the situation.
Generally speaking, however, a jury may use the actual medical expenses incurred and multiply that number by a factor (often between three and seven) to determine how much should be paid for pain and suffering. For example, if your medical expenses were $20,000 and a jury determined that a factor of seven should be used, then your pain and suffering would equal $140,000. You would be awarded that amount for pain and suffering as well as added medical expenses, wage loss, and more.
Sometimes, however, this method does not consider all of the issues involved. For example, a large scar on a leg that can be covered by pants may not cause the same mental anguish as a large scar on the face of a teenage girl. In this situation, a jury may consider the severity of damages to calculate damages.
Some helpful tools that can determine the value of your pain and suffering include:
- Medical experts who testify about your symptoms and pain
- Your primary care physician’s pain records
- Psychological and psychiatric experts who can evaluate your mental and emotional state
- Journals and notes you keep regarding your pain and suffering
- Testimony from friends and family who have witnessed your suffering
- Medication records for anything that treated your pain
- Videos that document “a day in the life” to show your limitations
Is Pursuing a Pain and Suffering Claim Worth It?
A pain and suffering claim is typically only made if you are filing a lawsuit, not settling with the insurance company. In a settlement, the insurance company will make you a flat offer based on medical bills, wage loss, and other considerations.
Litigation can be expensive and time-consuming. So before moving forward with a claim suing for pain and suffering in a car accident, it’s best to speak to an experienced Vancouver WA car accident lawyer. We can examine your case and help you determine whether it’s worth the hassle. If your injuries have resulted in huge medical bills and adversely impacted your life, it may be worth trying to claim as much in damages as you can.
To learn more about obtaining compensation for pain and suffering in a car accident, call The Law Offices of Loren Scott Etengoff today.