What “Pain and Suffering” Mean in a Washington Car Accident

When you need to sue for pain and suffering you endured after a car accident, it’s important to know that you could be facing an uphill battle. Unlike your car’s cracked windshield or your bruises, suffering and pain is intangible and naturally harder to prove.

However, you deserve fair compensation for all your damages related to the accident, including your suffering and pain. Learn more about how these types of damages are calculated and what you can do to protect your right to receive compensation. Keep in mind that if you are unsure about what to do after being in a car accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney in Kent about your case right away.

What Is “Pain and Suffering”?

In addition to dealing with medical bills and other financial burdens after you have been in a car accident, you may also be dealing with other sources of stress because of the pain from your injuries and treatment, any disfigurement or scarring you endure, or just from the trauma of the accident on its own. The term “pain and suffering” is an umbrella one that covers the following areas:

•       Loss of enjoyment of life
•       Loss of self-esteem
•       Life limitations
•       Mental anguish
•       Emotional distress
•       Physical pain

For example, if you ended up with a serious burn from a car accident, the damage value of the terrible pain it caused you may be more than just the cost of the medical care you needed for it. You may be able to recover money for the pain and discomfort from the burn itself and/or the medical treatment for it, and also for any disability or scarring the burn caused.

It is also important to note that pain and suffering covers everything you have experienced now and what you could, in all likelihood, experience in the future. Sometimes, car accident injuries can have a long-term impact on your life, and this needs to be considered.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Washington?

Contrary to what insurance companies may have already told you, there is no magic formula for calculating damages from pain and suffering. Since suffering and pain are subjective, they can be harder to prove, and insurance companies may say that you are overstating your situation.

Generally, however, a jury may use your medical expenses and multiply those amounts by a factor – such as three or four – to decide what you should receive for your pain and suffering. For example, if your medical costs related to a burn were $20,000 and a jury decided that a factor of three should be used, your pain and suffering would total $60,000. You would receive that amount in addition to other losses from the accident, such as lost wages and additional medical costs.

Sometimes, the factor method does not consider all of the specifics of the case. For example, a large leg scar that you can cover with pants may not cause the same level of mental anguish as a large scar across your face. In this type of situation, a jury may consider the severity of the injury’s impact on your life to calculate damages.

In court or during settlement talks with the parties responsible for your accident, your personal injury attorney in Kent may use several tools to help determine your pain and suffering’s value, including those listed below.

•       Pain records from your physician
•       Psychiatric experts’ evaluations of your emotional and mental state
•       Medical experts who offer information on your pain and symptoms
•       Notes and journals you kept about your suffering and pain
•       Statements from family and friends who have seen your suffering
•       Medication records for any pain treatments
•       Documentation of a “day in a life” that shows your limitations in a clear manner, such as a video

If you cannot settle with the insurance company for your pain and suffering, you may need to file a lawsuit to receive the compensation you deserve after what you have had to endure and may still be experiencing. Before you take any sort of settlement from an insurance company, you should speak to a personal injury attorney in Washington about your case.

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