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Car Accident Pain and Suffering Claims Overview

If you're in a car accident, you may be able to recover for pain and suffering. “Pain and suffering" is the physical and emotional injuries you have from the accident. Maybe you're experiencing persistent headaches, mental anguish, and depression that distract you from your daily activities.

This article provides an overview of the process for filing a pain and suffering claim, including what to do before filing a claim. This article also addresses how to calculate pain and suffering damages. Lastly, it walks you through the steps you'll need to take to file your claim.

Before Filing a Pain and Suffering Claim

The vast majority of auto accident cases never make it to trial. Instead, these cases are settled and resolved by insurance companies. So, before you file a pain and suffering claim, check your insurance company's guidelines and applicable state laws to discover any limitations or barriers. There may be a no-fault system or damages cap that limits your recovery.

Some states follow the no-fault system of liability. This system allows you to recover damages from your insurance company, regardless of who's at fault. These states won't allow you to recover pain and suffering damages unless your injury meets certain criteria. Some states also impose a damages cap on noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering. A damages cap is a law that limits the amount of damages you can recover.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

After establishing that the other driver is liable for your injuries, you must prove that your pain and suffering damages are associated with the accident. Pain and suffering damages include any mental or physical distress you've suffered as a result of the accident.

Evaluating these types of damages is highly subjective, and there's no clear bright-line rule in calculating pain and suffering damages. The calculation involves balancing many factors. Two people may experience significantly different levels of physical pain and suffering from the same type of accident. Some of these factors can include severity of the injury, impact to daily life, and the duration of pain.

Steps for Filing Your Claim

Below is a quick step-by-step guide to filing a claim for car accident pain and suffering damages.

Step 1: Gather Supporting Evidence

To prepare to file a personal injury claim for your car accident injuries, you should gather the necessary documentation that supports your claim. Start by obtaining a police report, if available. Use the report to support your claim with accurate facts about what happened at the scene and who's likely at fault. Then, gather as many documents as possible to prove the severity of your medical condition, including your emotional distress or other mental health challenges. Some of the acceptable documents are:

  • Medical records
  • Receipts of any prescribed medication
  • Medical bills or proof of other medical expenses
  • Doctor's note
  • Proof of lost wages
  • Photos of your injuries
  • Photos of your vehicle to show the impact of the accident

Suppose you provide no record of your injuries. In that case, the insurance company or the court will assume you didn't experience any pain or suffering. So, it's important to collect as much evidence as you can.

Step 2: Write a Settlement Demand Letter

After you've collected the necessary documents, write a demand letter and send it along with copies of supporting documents to the insurance company. Your demand letter should detail your pain and suffering and tell your side of the story. Make sure you only state facts that are accurate and truthful.

Step 3: Wait for the Claims Adjuster's Decision

An insurance adjuster from the insurance company will review your case by calculating the value of your insurance claim. The insurance adjuster will come back with an initial offer. If this offer isn't sufficient for you, negotiations can begin between you or your lawyer and the insurance adjuster. The adjusters' goal is to settle for the least amount possible. So, having a skilled attorney to negotiate on your behalf is always the best option. Once the insurance company accepts your offer, they will issue a settlement check for your personal injury claim. You or your attorney will be responsible for settling any liens on your case, and then you will receive the balance left after all fees are paid.

Do You Have a Claim for Pain and Suffering? Get Legal Advice From a Car Accident Lawyer

Pain and suffering damages can be hard to prove as an accident victim. Yet, conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can greatly affect your quality of life. Even if you don't have any obvious physical injuries like broken bones, you may still be entitled to recovery for soft tissue injuries and things like loss of enjoyment of life as part of your car accident claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Personal injury lawyers can use their experience to maximize the damages you recover in a car accident case. Consider speaking with a car accident attorney today. A personal injury attorney can help you gather all evidence for your claim and ensure the best outcome for your personal injury case. Some attorneys even offer free case evaluations.

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