If you have been in a car accident, the extent of the damage to your car is pretty obvious, but what about you? You not only have medical bills, but you are also suffering from the mental and emotional impact of the accident: you’re upset, you’re afraid to drive or be in a car again, or maybe you’re up all night because you can’t get it off your mind or the pain is keeping you awake. Is that something you can recover money for?
Yes, it is. Mental and emotional damage resulting from an accident or injury is compensable.
What is Pain and Suffering?
When someone files a civil lawsuit, they are generally looking for money to compensate them for the damage or injury done to them. Damages fall into two categories: (1) economic and (2) noneconomic.
Economic damages refer to money losses, like medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, etc.
Noneconomic damages, however, refer to more intangible damages, like injury to reputation, mental distress, or humiliation. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” generally refers to the noneconomic, mental or emotional damage you suffer as the result of an injury or accident.
How Much Can You Recover for Your Pain and Suffering?
It’s not easy to evaluate a person’s pain and suffering. As you might imagine, everyone is different, so there is no bright line for calculating pain and suffering damages. Calculating pain and suffering damages involves a balancing of many factors.
State laws put limits on the type of noneconomic damages you can recover for and how much you can recover for them. For example, Oregon law limits recovery for pain and suffering to $500,000. Washington State, on the other hand, limits the amount you can receive from the parents of a child under 18 who is living at home and may have willfully injured you, and uses a wage times life expectancy calculation to limit other noneconomic damages.
When Can You Recover for Pain and Suffering?
Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering are generally part of any personal injury or car accident litigation. However, just because the ability to recover such damages exists, that does not mean that the insurance company will automatically pay for them. You will need to prove the extent of your damages —including your pain and suffering— with evidence and testimony. Some documents you may need to provide are:
- Prescription receipts.
- Over-the-counter medication receipts.
- Medical bills, if any, for therapy, ambulance costs, x-rays, emergency room visits,
- Proof of lost wages or time off from school.
- A log of all medical treatment, pain, and missed activities.
- Photos of your injuries.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney!
We can take the pain out of personal injury recovery. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to getting our clients the relief they need. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.