Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident?
Car accident victims can face many different types of losses which they can recover from a negligent party. Some of these losses are relatively straightforward and tangible as they are based on purely economic losses. These can include losses for property damage, lost wages and benefits from missed work, and the costs of all recommended medical treatment.
However, the losses of car accident victims can go well beyond these tangible economic losses and can include many non-economic and subjective losses. One of the most important categories of non-economic losses is that of “pain and suffering.”
What Counts as Pain and Suffering?
In addition to the financial strain of injuries, victims can also experience severe physical and emotional pain following a car accident. Some injuries can cause physical agony for a period of time that causes the victim to remain in a state of suffering. In addition, emotional and mental conditions may develop as a result of the physical pain of any scarring or disfigurement that occurred, or from the trauma of the accident itself.
In addition, if an injury causes the inability to work due to long-term or permanent disabilities, a person may lose self-worth, self-esteem, and enjoyment of life. All of these losses can be considered under the umbrella of “pain and suffering” for the purposes of a car accident claim, and California law allows victims to seek compensation for pain and suffering in many situations.
Determining the Value of Pain and Suffering
Because pain and suffering are not quantifiable, it can be difficult to decide how much compensation to request and also to prove that you deserve that amount for your pain and suffering. While there is no set formula for determining what your pain and suffering are worth, it is important not to over-estimate the value of your pain and suffering.
If you sprained your wrist, for example, you should not be requesting the same amount for pain and suffering as someone who sustained a catastrophic brain injury. The longer the effects of your injury last and the more severe the symptoms, the more compensation you are likely entitled to.
The following can be helpful tools in determining and proving the value of a claim for pain and suffering in a car accident case:
- Medical experts who can attest to typical symptoms and pain that result from your injury;
- Your own physician who can testify regarding any records of pain levels you claimed during treatment;
- Psychological or psychiatric experts who can evaluate your mental and emotional state and testify to any mental health issues as a result of the accident;
- Any journals or notes you took recording your pain levels or general feelings on a regular basis;
- Testimony by friends and family members regarding your changed mood, abilities, or activities;
- The type and amount of medication you require for pain management;
- Videos that document “A Day in Your Life” that can demonstrate the limitations you have and the effects those limitations have on your well-being.
There can be many different creative ways to demonstrate both physical and emotional pain and suffering following a collision. An experienced car accident lawyer can help design an effective legal strategy in your case.
Limits on Pain and Suffering Damages
In California, there are some limits on collecting compensation for pain and suffering after a car accident. The main exception is that motorists who are not properly insured generally do not have the right to receive any non-economic damages, including those for pain and suffering. However, if an uninsured driver is hit by another driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the intoxicated driver later receives a conviction for DUI stemming from the collision, the uninsured driver may then be eligible to seek compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.
In addition, while victims are not legally prohibited from receiving damages for pain and suffering following a minor accident, it can be significantly harder to do so. Minor accidents that result in minor injuries and involve low levels of trauma can often make it difficult for someone to prove extensive physical or mental pain and suffering. It is not impossible, however, especially if your injuries are relatively serious in comparison to the minor accident.
Call for a Free Consultation with a Qualified California Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you are experiencing pain and suffering as a result of a car accident, you should not hesitate to call an experienced car accident attorney at the law firm of GJEL in California today. We have a thorough understanding of how to prove losses for pain and suffering and can assist you in determining what type of compensation is available to you and how to accurately calculate and prove your losses. Please call our office for a free consultation at 866-218-3776 to learn more about how we can assist you.