If you’ve ever been in a car accident or had to take care of someone who has been a victim of one, you know the pain and suffering that comes with it. Long after the accident, fatigue, emotional distress, loss of capacity to enjoy life as before, and many other intangible sufferings may still linger. Claims for compensation based on aftershocks outside of the physical injuries are qualified as’ pain and suffering claims’, for which damages can be sought in a court of law.
In a state like Utah, pain and suffering claims are quantified under non-economic damages. Non-economic damages account for losses not part of the directly calculable financial losses like medical bills occasioned by a car accident, lost wages, etc. These damages are difficult to calculate and tend to be subjective as they are not necessarily backed by tangible evidence.
A client can be compensated after a car accident lawsuit if they can prove that they suffered emotional distress or loss of enjoyment (among others) due to the accident. Some of the factors used to determine pain and suffering in a car accident claim include:
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The Kind of Injury And Its Severity
Information about the kind of injury and its severity comes from a doctor’s records and expert opinions. A court may ask to look at the test results, treatment plans administered, and any other pertinent report to ascertain the level of injury and check it against the claim. The judge will then make a determination based on the severity and longevity of the injury.
It is important to note that pain and suffering damages are often awarded for emotional pain occasioned by a physical injury. A claimant who only suffered emotional damages will be eligible for a pain and suffering claim if there is proof that the defendant acted outrageously with intent to inflict emotional distress.
Impact Of The Injury On The Victim’s Daily Life
A judge may consider the severity of the injury, the duration spent in recovery, and the loss of enjoyment occasioned by the injury, among other factors, to determine the impact of the injury on the victim’s daily life.
In this case, the court might ask for the victim’s testimony, expert opinions, photographs detailing the injuries, and statements from the employer, family, friends, and colleagues. The judge will then use the information to determine whether the victim can or can no longer participate in activities they once enjoyed or continue in their career path without impediment.
Apart from being a visual representation of the injury, a disfigurement also shows the possible impact the injury may have on the victim’s self-esteem and overall life quality. The damages awarded for disfigurement depend on several factors, including the severity and the location. For example, a scar on the face is considered more severe than one on foot.
Injuries of gruesome or life-changing nature may cause mental anguish and lead to mental health issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, or severe anxiety. These levels of emotional distress significantly impact the victim’s quality of life. They are among the significant decisions guiding a court’s determination of pain and suffering in a car accident claim.
Analysis Of Former Cases
Rulings on former pain and suffering claims determine how the court will rule on the current one. When a court makes a ruling, it is considered a precedent that helps rule on future cases of the exact nature. According to the law, judges must consider previous rulings in making their judgments unless there are compelling reasons to depart from the previously issued orders.
Anyone deprived of life enjoyment due to a car accident can launch a pain and suffering claim. However, state laws rule that you will only be eligible to make a pain and suffering suit after you have exceeded the minimum Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance minimums. This requirement is only void if the accident resulted in permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, permanent dismemberment, death, or over USD$3000 in medical costs.
A judge will have the final say in a pain and suffering claim that goes to trial. However, lawyers representing clients in court tend to have the amount the client should receive in mind. They commonly calculate these claims on a per diem (per day) basis. A lawyer would determine how long a victim’s pain and suffering will likely last. After making that determination, they will calculate the medical expenses, lost wages since the injury, and daily calculations until they believe the injury will linger. The result is the amount they will demand in court.
John Jackson is a law student who takes pleasure in informing people about the nuances of the law and how it could benefit them through his blog. He is an avid reader, skater, and dancer when he’s not cramming the constitution.