When researching personal injury topics, such as compensation for car accidents, you may have heard the term “pain and suffering” used to describe the type of damages you may be able to seek payment for. But what exactly is pain and suffering, and how can you effectively prove it? The attorneys at the Oberg Law Office offer a few tips on how you can document your pain and suffering after an auto accident and explain why hiring an attorney may be the right choice for your case.
What Does Pain and Suffering Mean in Legal Terms?
Pain and suffering is a term commonly used to describe the subjective effects that an accident and resulting injuries may have on the physical and emotional well-being of a victim. When a person is involved in a serious auto accident, the most visible consequences are physical injuries and a damaged vehicle. However, it may be hard to understand just how much physical pain the victim may have endured as a result of their injuries and in the course of recovering from those injuries. For example, broken bones are extremely painful when they first occur and may result in even more pain if the victim needs to have surgery to repair their fractured leg or requires physical therapy to regain mobility after the crash.
The pain and resulting suffering can also be psychological. An accident victim has just undergone an extremely stressful and traumatic event that could result in mental anguish and panic attacks as they relive the incident over and over in their minds. Their physical pain and the effects it has on their daily lives can also result in emotional distress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and PTSD. If their injury resulted in long-term or permanent disabilities, the victim may also experience loss of enjoyment of life due to being unable to partake in activities they used to enjoy before the accident, such as playing sports or being active. All of these factors are usually taken into consideration when determining the appropriate settlement for an accident victim.
What Are Some Ways to Document Pain and Suffering After an Accident?
The most important thing you can do after an accident is to seek emergency medical help for yourself or for others who may have been seriously injured. However, seeking medical help is recommended even if you don’t feel like you are injured – the sudden burst of adrenaline triggered by a scary and stressful situation such as a car accident can temporarily mask the pain of a serious injury for days or even weeks after it occurs. If you have a doctor examine you shortly after the accident, you will be able to have the necessary medical records to document how your symptoms progressed since the day of the accident. In addition, if you suffered apparent injuries such as cuts, bruises, or fractured limbs, for example, you will also want to document these injuries by taking pictures and gathering medical reports and exam results. You may also want to include a picture of yourself before and after the accident.
Another effective way of documenting your pain and suffering is to complete a daily journal. This practice is referred to by some as a “pain journal,” and it provides the court with a first-person account of the many ways your injury is affecting you in your daily life. You can make daily entries in your pain journal with dates, times, a description of your pain and the body area affected by it, as well as the activity you were doing or trying to do. Alternatively, you can also get the help of friends or family to write a statement explaining how the accident and your injuries have affected you since the day of the crash.
Can You Use the Testimony of Expert Witnesses to Help Argue Pain and Suffering?
If you are working with a skilled attorney who is providing legal representation for your case, your attorney may also suggest recruiting the help of expert witnesses to help the court understand the extent of your pain and suffering. For example, if you suffered a serious back injury that resulted in debilitating chronic nerve pain, an attorney can ask an orthopedic doctor or a nerve pain specialist to analyze your injury and give their medical opinion on its severity, the type of symptoms that your injury typically causes, and how it affects your daily life.
Alternatively, your attorney can also recruit the help of a mental health professional to explain to the court how an accident can affect a victim’s mental health and what it feels like to live with anxiety or frequent panic attacks, for example. An experienced attorney can help you leverage the knowledge and credentials of expert witnesses to strengthen your case and effectively document your pain and suffering.
How Much Money Can I Receive for Pain and Suffering Due to an Auto Accident?
Pain and suffering are just one of the components of a personal injury settlement. The total value of a claim is typically a combination of economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic damages (another legal term for pain and suffering). In general, the higher your financial losses and the more significant your degree of pain and suffering is, the higher the value of your claim may be.
The attorneys at the Oberg Law Office can help you determine how much money your particular claim may be worth, as well as the best course of action for your case. If you were hurt in an auto accident in or near Mesquite, TX, call us at 972-672-9700 for a free consultation.