The aftermath of a car accident can be devastating. Injuries can range from relatively mild cuts and scrapes to grievous physical trauma that requires surgery, rehabilitation, and a long recovery process.
In addition to visible wounds, victims can also walk away from an accident with non-tangible losses, including emotional pain and mental anguish. This can take a heavy toll on a person. Both physical and emotional pain, like the loss of self-worth or self-esteem post-accident, can be classified as pain and suffering, under the same umbrella as physical injuries, when it comes time to seek compensation after an accident.
However, suing for pain and suffering in a car accident can be complicated. It can be tricky for you to actually prove you deserve a specific amount of compensation, especially if the damages are not quantifiable.
What Counts as Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering falls under an umbrella of non-economic losses.
Economic losses, like property damage, lost wages, and medical expenses are relatively easy to add up and make a case for.
However, non-economic and subjective losses, such as the emotional strain of being in physical agony, can be much harder to calculate. If you have a physical injury that results in prolonged pain or leads to emotional trauma post-accident, this can be regarded as pain and suffering when it comes time to make a case for compensation.
California law gives people the ability to seek damages for pain and suffering from a variety of situations. Loss of self-worth, self-esteem, or general enjoyment of life are all after-effects of an injury that can be included in a car accident claim.
How Do I Figure Out the Value of Pain and Suffering?
Since emotional trauma or a loss of self-esteem is not quantifiable, it can be very challenging to determine how much compensation is worthwhile to pursue. It can also be hard to prove you actually deserve the restitution.
An experienced car accident attorney can provide insight and help you avoid over-valuing a claim based on pain and suffering.
The following are helpful tools you and your attorney can look use to help prove the value of pain and suffering:
- Testimony or documentation from medical experts who can discuss the types of symptoms and pain that result from your injuries
- A personal doctor who can furnish notes about your treatment, especially if they noted different levels of pain at different points
- Insights from medical professionals who are able to evaluate your mental state and then talk about any potential mental health issues
- Notes that you wrote down which detail pain levels, emotions at different points in time, or detail daily limitations and how they impact your well-being
- Insights from friends and family about changes in mood, activity levels, or physical and mental abilities
- Details about medications used for managing pain
What Are the Limits on Pain and Suffering Damages?
California law places a few restrictions on how much compensation can be accrued as a result of pain and suffering post-accident. In general, motorists who do not have proper insurance waive the chance to recover non-economic damages.
However, if an uninsured driver gets hit by someone who was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the driver gets a DUI conviction post-accident, the uninsured motorist might be able to receive damages for pain and suffering after filing a case.
Seeking damages for pain and suffering can be much more difficult after a minor accident. Accidents with low trauma levels often pose a difficult case for those trying to prove large amounts of physical or mental pain and suffering.
Learn More About Suing for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can help guide you through the process of suing for pain and suffering in a car accident. To learn more about how to file a case, contact us today to speak with an Orange County car accident attorney.