Pain and suffering is often misunderstood. Insurance companies often claim that an injured person is manufacturing or exaggerating symptoms to win larger personal injury settlements.
In reality, pain and suffering is just one factor in determining the settlement value of a lawsuit. It varies between individuals and honesty is likely the best way to recovery well on this element. Here are common questions about pain and suffering and how it is handled in personal injury lawsuits.
Pain and suffering refers to the subjective impacts of an injury. While a bone fracture or disc injury can be objectively proven through an x-rays, CT Scans, MRIs and medical notes, pain and suffering is perceived solely by the plaintiff and those around them.
Physical pain, emotional distress, and limits on activities of daily living are part of pain and suffering. If injuries from your accident prevented a major development in your life, like attending a graduation, traveling to Europe or running your first marathon, missing out on these events could also factor into pain and suffering. The same is true if you sustain a permanent disability, like paralysis. It focuses on the reduction in your quality of life due to the accident.
Unlike medical bills and lost wages which can be calculated to the penny, there is no set in stone formula for calculating how much an injured person’s pain and suffering is worth. Often times, no amount of money can wholly compensate someone who has suffered a permanent injury, scarring or disfigurement from a motor vehicle collision.
In high impact collisions with objective diagnostic injuries, permanent disability ratings, economists and vocational rehab experts, there is expert testimony and tangible examples of a person’s pain and suffering to present to the jury. There is somewhat of a template to operate and build from in presenting the pain and suffering side of a personal injury case.
In the moderate to low impact collisions with no positive diagnostic findings, it can much more difficult to persuade a jury or judge regarding a person’s high level of pain and suffering.
This is where a good attorney can be very beneficial in explaining the deep and wide ranging impact a motor vehicle collision has had on the injured person and their family. We recently had a case in litigation that involved an older retired gentleman involved in a moderate motor vehicle collision. When discussing with the client about how this impacted their home life, it came back to two main areas – grandchildren and their garden.
As our attorneys met with the client and his wife multiple times at their home, we noticed their multiple gardens were now weed beds and dirt. We asked the couple if they had any photos of their gardens before the collision and the wife proceeded to pull out photo albums filled with photos of beautiful gardens, grand children playing and a happily retired couple. When we asked the wife why she didn’t take care of the gardens herself, she said it wasn’t the same without her husband. That is what they did together.
This became the theme of our case. While it might seem silly to think before and after photos of gardens may be vital to a personal injury case, this theme illustrated and brought to life just how deep and impactful this motor vehicle collision effected this retired couple. After mediation and our firm’s presentation, the case settled for an amount beyond reasonable expectation.
When you start treatment, keep a pain journal. If you can document symptoms and how you feel in a contemporaneous manner, that is more reliable than relying on spoken testimony. It is too easy for defense counsel to claim you misrepresent symptoms if you rely solely on memory.
Ask loved ones to testify on your behalf. Friends, family members, and partners can explain what you were not able to do anymore. Spouses and live-in partners often become involved in caretaking duties, which gives them a first row seat to your experience If you have friends who visited frequently to help you with yard work or housecleaning, should testify too. Having others share their observations of your symptoms shows you definitely suffered and are not exaggerating.
Attend all your doctor appointments. The fact that you are willing to stick with treatment and keep appointments also adds credibility to your claim.
Pain and suffering is often the most difficult part of a personal injury claim. Presentation is everything when you pursue these damages. If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of another, contact DuBoff & Associates, Chtd. for a free consultation.Filed Under: