Following an accident, a car accident attorney can assist the injured person to recover damages. Damages are categorized into two broad categories: economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages stem from specific economic harm, like medical bills or missed paychecks. Similarly, noneconomic damages can also stem from a car accident act but are notoriously difficult to calculate. Unfortunately, pain and suffering are categorized into difficult-to-calculate non-economic damages.
When defining damages for pain and suffering, an important distinction should be made: pain is physical and suffering is mental. Suffering is usually where the damages usually increase. For example, traumatic brain injuries from a car accident can create lasting changes such as personality changes and permanent mood swings.
Pain and suffering damages are difficult to calculate because people experience pain and suffering differently. Simply put: people experience different levels of pain. To prove one’s pain and suffering, a car accident attorney can present evidence that the accident directly caused this pain and suffering. After the evidence in the form of medical reports or doctor testimony, the jury or judge calculates the amount by factors including:
The type of injury or injuries
The severity of the injury or injuries
Whether the injury is permanent, such as being scarred or disfigured
How much the injury might impact the person’s daily routine
The effect of the injury on the remaining well-being
The corresponding emotional trauma such as stress, anxiety and pain
The length of time necessary for recovery
There are certain limitations that exist to ensure no unfair advantages occur for the plaintiff. Under Pennsylvania law, claims for pain and suffering damages must occur within 2 years of the accident. Perhaps surprisingly, Pennsylvania, unlike other states, does not impose any damages caps following personal injury claims, except for claims against the government.
A person must also carry full tort auto coverage, as limited tort coverage limits a person’s ability to sue for pain and suffering. If someone with limited tort coverage intended to sue for pain and suffering, they must prove a serious injury and a serious impairment of a body function. A person must also not be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident to seek compensation.
When involved, insurance companies use a fairly rigid formula to compensate injured parties. Though this formula makes sense for the insurance company, the account calculated benefits the insurance company by saving them money. Also important is the permanence of pain and suffering. When first presented, a certain monetary amount sounds like a large sum of money.
However, medical treatments are very expensive. For example, a car accident results in a back injury. This back injury can be recurring, might require indefinite periods of not working, and might require hiring assistance for the injury. Especially when dealing with long-term injuries which can often result from car injuries, take precautions and hire a car accident attorney to guarantee you are receiving the best maximum amount.
An experienced car attorney understands how to present the information to the parties involved, can identify the arguments for damages with support from relevant documentation, can compare the amount with comparable injuries and accidents in the jurisdiction, and ultimately negotiate a better settlement amount.
Call us for more information from Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law or to schedule a consultation in our office in Pittsburgh.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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