Can You Get Pain and Suffering Compensation for Minor Car Accidents?
“Pain and suffering” damages are an important component of many financial compensation packages after an accident. While the words may seem to imply a serious accident, in truth these types of damages are also applicable to minor car accidents. Depending on the nature and severity of the car accident in which you were a victim, you may be entitled to several forms of legal compensation including those for pain and suffering.
These types of legal compensation, otherwise known as “damages”, include:
- Cost of present medical treatment
- Cost of future medical treatment
- Car repairs or replacement
- Lost income due to missed work
- Pain and suffering, and other losses
Courts allow recovery of these categories of legal damages in the form of financial compensation so that you may be put in the position you were before the car accident – as if it had never happened in the first place. Of course nothing can literally turn back time, but financial compensation is the best approximation available.
How Car Accident Injuries are Identified
Most types of damages related to a car accident are measured objectively. In other words, they are tangible. A doctor can clearly verify a broken arm, and an auto shop can attest to a crumpled back bumper and broken tail lights. Similarly, your employer can verify the time you missed from work while recovering from injuries, and the wages you would have earned if you had been able to work.
However, pain and suffering is subjective rather than objective, and thus it is more difficult to measure and prove. In legal terms, pain and suffering is the physical (pain) and emotional (suffering) stress stemming from both the event of the accident itself and any injuries resulting from the accident.
Anyone who has suffered a broken arm or a serious burn knows how painful it is at both the moment of trauma and while the injury has not healed. Similarly, those who have been the victim of a car accident know the mental and emotional toll taken by injuries that upend one’s ability to earn a living or continue a daily routine.
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages
Because pain and suffering damages are subjective, they are difficult to express in financial terms.
Still, two factors are useful:
While a black eye that will heal completely in a relatively short period of time would not merit substantial pain and suffering damages, permanently disfiguring burns or the loss of a limb would justify a large award of pain and suffering damages.
To get from the truly subjective to workable broad categories to clear-cut dollars and cents, a skilled injury attorney will use medical treatment bills as a starting point from which to multiply. The more severe and permanent an injury, the more the initial financial figure merits multiplication. This is an oversimplification of a complex process, but hopefully affords some insight into the manner of establishing an objective sum for a subjective condition.
The “seriousness” of the accident itself may be a factor, what really matters is the pain and suffering that the injured person must endure. Even a minor fender-bender may aggravate an old back injury or cause whiplash in the neck. If that occurs, you can receive pain and suffering damages even though the collision itself may have been viewed as minimal.
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