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Pain and Suffering Awards in Vehicle Accident Claims

Pain and Suffering Awards in Vehicle Accident ClaimsLet’s be honest. When a car accident causes injuries, the injuries often cause unbearable pain. The initial pain before there’s any medical treatment may cause you to go into shock. And almost everyone who is in an accident suffers stress. People worry about what type of injuries they have, can they be treated, and will they ever recover. Even after surgeries, many accident victims require long-term medical care just to be close to “normal.”

Some injuries like a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury permanently change lives forever. Even if you have an injury that should heal, the excruciating aches can make you cry, can make sleeping difficult, and can prevent you from eating, reading, working, and enjoying your family. All these daily aches and the anxiety about your pain are compensable damages under Arizona law, and they should be. After all, your suffering from a vehicle crash may last long after your physical injury is healed.

In severe cases, some car accident victims suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Very Well Mind, some of the risk factors for PTSD after a car accident include:

  • “Dissociation during or immediately after the traumatic event.”
  • A family history or prior history of psychopathology.
  • Increased emotional reactions such as fear, shame, and helplessness.
  • Not having quality social support after the accident.

Car accident victims with PTSD may live with emotional scars long after their physical injuries have healed. They may fear ever getting into a car again, making it impossible for them to work, buy groceries, or even spend time with loved ones. When another person’s negligence is responsible for this, that person should be held accountable.

How our Phoenix car accident lawyers prove pain and suffering

There are many critical steps we take to help convince insurance adjusters and juries that you have a LOT of pain and suffering due to a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident. A few of these key steps include:

Working with your physicians. We obtain medical reports from your treating doctors (and have them testify if necessary) that:

  • Verify your medical injuries. The type of injury you have affects how much pain and suffering you should receive. Adjusters and defense lawyers understand that some injuries are life-altering, some injuries are permanent, and some injuries heal with time. Your doctors need to verify your injury based on an oral examination, a physical examination, and diagnostic tests.
  • Details the treatment you need. Every time you need to have surgery, see a doctor, work with a physical therapist, use an assistive device, or take a medication for your pain, it shows how the pain is affecting your life. In some car accident cases, our Phoenix car accident lawyers recommend that clients see a psychologist. We recommend psychologists if you are having emotional difficulties dealing with the trauma of a car, truck, or motorcycle accident.
  • Explain the type of pain you will likely have and for how long. Doctors, especially doctors with a lot of experience, should be able to detail in their reports all the ways your injuries affect your life. These details include the loss of function of a body part, the types of pain and severity of pain you can expect, the complications that may develop, and the physical and emotional stresses you will suffer.

Working with you. A major part of your pain and suffering claim is the type of presentation you make at depositions and before a jury. In most car accident cases, the lawyer for the defendants (and their insurance companies) will depose you. The more the lawyer says that you’ll make a good witness in court, the higher pain and suffering amount that lawyer should recommend to the insurance companies. Some of the factors that impress defense lawyers and judges include:

  • Honesty and consistency. The more credible your answers are the better. The more sympathetic the lawyers, adjusters, and jurors are to your pain and agony the better.
  • Showing, not telling. If you have scars, your arm is in a cast, your body has bruises – all this helps insurance adjusters and jurors to visibly see you with all your injuries. If the physical scars have faded over time, we use X-rays or photos to tell your story. If you have scarring or disfigurement, the doctor’s written words are essential but pictures of your scars, amputation, or disfigurement affect the heart and soul of the people viewing the photos. Videos can show your limitations such as that you walk with a limp or that simple tasks can cause you to grimace with pain.
  • Family and friends may also testify about how the injuries affect your ability to function, your pain and suffering, and all the things you could do before the car accident that you cannot do now.
  • “Likability.” This seems unfair, we know; whether you’re “likeable” shouldn’t have anything to do with whether or not you are entitled to compensation. If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, that should be that. But how you present yourself and tell your story to a jury matters. We usually conduct a dry run of the deposition or your testimony to help your strengthen your public speaking skills, and so that the full impact of the collision is clear.

Using official reports. Insurance companies and jurors are often more likely to give a higher pain and suffering award for a head-on crash versus a rear-end crash. This is one of the reasons we often show the physical damage to the cars involved in the accident to adjusters and jurors. But we also use official police reports to prove that someone else caused the crash which led to your injuries.

How do insurance adjusters assess pain and suffering?

Insurance companies keep detailed records on how much car accident cases, where the injuries are similar to yours, have settled for. They keep similar records for jury verdicts. They then compare your injuries to these prior results when deciding how much they think your case is worth.

Juries do not use databases or multipliers. They make their own determination about pain and suffering based on the evidence and arguments of your lawyer, the facts of your case, and their determination of liability. Our job is to help a jury understand just how damaging the collision was to your overall life.

At Plattner Verderame, P.C., our Phoenix car accident lawyers are skilled at fully preparing your case – and you – for a potential trial. We have an impressive track record of success negotiating settlements and trying cases in court, including 20 cases where the settlement/award was $1 million or more. We represent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicycle riders, and families. To discuss your right to file a car accident case and your damages including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and car damage, please call us at 602.266.2002 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.