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Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering?

It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don't agree. The wounds remain. Time — the mind, protecting its sanity — covers them with some scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone. - Rose Kennedy

Grieving woman

With tragedy and loss comes pain. A car accident victim, for example, doesn't just suffer a broken leg and a concussion; they may also have to deal with grief, depression, or PTSD.

Pain is subjective, but it should never be minimized or dismissed. For those who have suffered an injury or the wrongful death of a loved one, they want to know if their physical and emotional suffering matters.

It does. The difficult part is proving the accident's impact on a person’s life and mental health.

At our personal injury law firm, we work to prove that our clients deserve fair compensation for their pain and suffering. It is our job to show the insurance adjuster or a jury the full extent a serious wreck or other life-altering accident has had on an injured victim.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Dictionaries define “pain” as physical suffering or distress, as well as mental/emotional suffering or torment. “Suffering” is an endured state of injury, pain, disadvantage, or loss.

The legal definition of “pain and suffering” is slightly more specific. Pain and suffering refers to the physical discomfort, emotional anguish, inconvenience, and trauma caused by an injury. The aches, temporary or permanent limitations, potential shortening of lifespan, depression, and embarrassment caused by the injury and pain are compensable as general damages.

Physical pain and suffering following a traumatic accident due to someone’s negligence can last for weeks, months, or longer. It can manifest as physical medical conditions that include neck pain, internal organ damage, nerve damage, strained or torn muscles, dislocated joints, and paralysis.

Severe mental and psychological distress can last days or years after an accident. Chronic emotional pain can be just as debilitating as physical suffering, the psychological weight of the accident’s aftermath preventing the victim from enjoying life, holding a job, or doing even the simplest of tasks. Mental anguish can take the form of fear, insomnia, anxiety, anger, grief, lack of passion, PTSD, or cognitive changes due to a head injury.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

The dollar value for pain and suffering damages is subjective. Every personal injury case is different, so the calculations regarding pain and suffering will depend on the facts and circumstances before, during, and after the accident. Compensation for pain and suffering is estimated separately from medical bills, future medical costs, and lost wages.

Regardless of the method of calculation, it is imperative to hire an experienced attorney who knows how to negotiate with the insurance company so that you are adequately compensated in proportion to the amount of suffering you endured.

Proving Pain and Suffering

A lawyer will know what questions to ask. They will focus on how your pain impacts your day-to-day life, your outlook on the future, and the current state of your relationships.

Documentation is crucial to establish that your physical and emotional suffering is real. This evidence will be used to support your claim once you have physically recovered as much as possible.

It is a good idea to keep a journal of how you are feeling physically and mentally each day or throughout the week. Make notes on what activities have become difficult or impossible to accomplish or enjoy due to your injury. Recording your pain and frustration will help your lawyers support your case when it is time to negotiate compensation with the insurance company's lawyers.

Important Note: At the beginning of your post-accident journal, have it addressed to your lawyer. This will become a privileged communication between you and your attorney, meaning the other side cannot compel its disclosure.

Other evidence that may be used to support your claim includes:

  • Doctor’s notes and observations
  • Medical evidence and treatment needs
  • Photographs
  • Interviews with family and friends
  • Therapist or mental health counselor’s records

The more evidence and insight you provide into your pain and suffering, the more likely the insurance company, judge, or jury will understand how much the accident has negatively impacted your life.

Who Pays for Pain and Suffering?

When an accident that caused your injuries, and therefore your pain and suffering, is due to someone else’s negligence, a claim may be filed with the at-fault person’s insurance company.

The insurance company is responsible for paying general damages (physical and mental anguish) and special damages (medical costs, lost wages, etc.).

As stated earlier, you will have to prove that the accident left you in significant pain and distress. The insurance company will not just take your word for it.

Since insurance companies are for-profit, they will resist paying out more than they feel necessary for a settlement. The more severe an injury, the more likely they will fight against providing the large amounts of money needed to cover your medical and quality of life costs.

That is why it may benefit you to hire a lawyer to help you with your personal injury case while you recover.

Contact a Pain and Suffering Lawyer

Don’t suffer in silence after a severe accident. You deserve compensation, not only for your costly medical bills and lost wages, but for the intense pain and suffering endured after the incident.

Contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates to learn how we investigate and evaluate pain and suffering compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Call our team today at (770) 934-8000 for a free consultation and to ensure your rights are protected.

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