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Can I Make a Pain and Suffering Claim Without a Lawyer?

Regardless of attorney representation, most car accident cases reach a settlement through negotiations before a suit is filed, let alone getting to the trial phase. If you were involved in a minor car accident, you may be able to successfully handle your case without a car accident lawyer.

However, to represent themselves, accident victims should conduct in-depth research and get advice on the best way to proceed with their auto accident claims. Read on to discover some basic procedures and tips on how to make a pain and suffering claim without a personal injury attorney.

What Are Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are any mental or physical distress for which you may seek damages in your car accident claim. Pain and suffering damages are based on the type of injury and the seriousness of your pain.

Most states consider pain and suffering damages as a part of noneconomic damages (also called general damages). These damages refer to any intangible losses where monetary values are difficult to assign. Unlike economic damages (e.g., medical expenses and lost wages), which are easily documented, pain and suffering damages are highly subjective.

Whether To Proceed With or Without a Car Accident Attorney

Depending on the type of car crash, obtaining legal representation may save you time and money. Consider the following factors to determine whether you need an attorney to represent you during the settlement process.

The Seriousness of Your Injuries

If you were involved in a fender bender, a car insurance company could offer a settlement without dispute during the claims process to cover your property damages and medical bills. However, if you were in a more serious accident involving serious damages like pain and suffering, you would want to at least get a case evaluation by a personal injury lawyer.

Sufficiency of Evidence

You will need evidence, such as witness testimony or supporting documents, to make a successful claim. If there is no evidence of your injuries to prove your pain and suffering, the insurance company or the court will assume that you did not suffer such damages and don't deserve compensation. If you're having a hard time obtaining evidence for your case, you should consider getting help from a lawyer.

Proof of the Other Driver's Fault

If you are making a claim against the other driver or their insurance company, make sure the other driver is at fault for the accident. As long as it's obvious that the other driver caused the accident and their insurance company has accepted liability, it should be easier to proceed with your claim without an attorney.

However, if there's a dispute about who is at fault or if the other driver makes a counterclaim, you should seek advice from an experienced attorney to evaluate your case. You don't want to proceed with your claim against the other driver or their insurance company until you are sure the other driver was at fault.

Calculation of Your Pain and Suffering

You need to state a specific amount of pain and suffering damages, even though there's no set equation to calculate this type of damage. Some lawyers use the "multiplier" method to calculate pain and suffering damages.

If you're unable to come up with a specific value for your pain and suffering or emotional distress damages, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers have the training to use their knowledge and experience to calculate the amount of money you are entitled to in a personal injury claim.

Making a Pain and Suffering Claim on Your Own

To make a pain and suffering claim, you will need to send the insurance company a demand letter, which is a summary of your claim and damages. In your demand letter, you should discuss your pain and suffering damages, supported by relevant documents, recorded statements, and evidence.

Supporting Documents

To prove pain and suffering, you must have evidence of medical attention supporting your claim. You should obtain medical records and any police report yourself. If you let the insurance company obtain your medical treatment records, you let them control which documents to consider.

Your demand letter to the insurance adjuster should have the following documents attached, if available:

  • Medical records, bills, and receipts
  • Doctor's note
  • Police report
  • Witness statements
  • Photos of your injuries and vehicle damage
  • Evidence of any lost wages

Statement on Your Pain and Suffering

In your car accident settlement demand letter, you need to state how you came up with the value of your pain and suffering damages. You can explain how your pain and suffering have impacted your daily activities since the car accident.

Consider the following factors in your discussion of pain and suffering:

  • The severity of your injury
  • The location and nature of any scarring or disfigurement
  • The recovery time needed
  • The potential for ongoing consequences
  • The amount claimed in special damages
  • Socio-economic factors
  • Your state's damages cap (if there is one)

FAQ Section

In this section, we will go over some frequently asked questions. Bear in mind that your specific situation may involve a variety of factors that would justify getting answers to your questions from a talented attorney.

Q: What Is a Counteroffer in Personal Injury Cases?

A: A counteroffer is a response from the at-fault party or their insurance company after receiving your initial settlement demand. It typically includes a lower settlement amount than what you initially proposed, and it opens the door for negotiations.

Q: How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Differ From Other Personal Injury Cases?

A: A wrongful death claim is a personal injury case filed when someone is killed due to another party's negligence or intentional act. The survivors or the estate of the deceased person bring forward this type of claim.

Q: What Is the Time Limit to File a Car Accident Claim?

A: The time limit to file a car accident claim, also known as the statute of limitations, varies by state. Generally, it ranges from one to six years from the date of the accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within this period, you may lose your right to sue.

Q: How Is Lost Income Calculated in a Car Accident Settlement?

A: Lost income in a car accident settlement is calculated by considering the wages you would have earned from work had the accident not happened. This includes lost wages and earning capacity if the injury impacts your ability to work in the future.

Q: How Is the Settlement Amount Determined in a Car Accident Claim?

A: The settlement amount in a car accident claim is determined by:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The cost of your medical bills
  • Lost present and future income
  • The extent of your pain and suffering
  • The degree of the at-fault driver's negligence

Q: What Role Does the At-Fault Driver's Insurance Play in a Car Accident Claim?

A: The at-fault driver's insurance typically covers the damages and injuries caused by their insured driver. They are often involved in settlement negotiations and may be responsible for paying the agreed-upon settlement.

In no-fault states, your own insurance company generally covers damages and injuries even if you weren't at fault.

Q: Can I File a Claim if the Statute of Limitations Has Expired?

A: Generally, you cannot file a claim if the statute of limitations has expired. Speak with a lawyer during a free case consultation to understand your timeframe for filing a claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Get Legal Advice During a Free Case Evaluation for Your Pain and Suffering Claim

You should carefully consider the above factors when deciding whether to proceed with or without legal representation. Although you may think you can save attorney fees by handling a serious injury case on your own, an experienced personal injury lawyer will likely be able to maximize the amount you can recover. Start the process of getting fair compensation today and contact an experienced injury law attorney near you for a free case review.

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