An important element of various car accident cases, especially those resulting in significant injuries, is the claim for pain and suffering. It is a challenging task to equate pain and suffering to a monetary amount. However, most car accident cases are resolved through the insurance claim process, and there is no need to go to trial. Therefore, it is essential to know how insurance companies define “pain and suffering,” how insurance companies place a monetary value on pain and suffering, and the evidence they commonly use to investigate pain and suffering claims.
What are Pain and Suffering?
There are two different types of pain and suffering. The first type is physical pain and suffering and the second type is mental pain and suffering, which refers to the mental distress that results from bodily injury. These are both known as “general damages.”
It is impossible to know the severity of the pain a person is personally suffering. However, it is possible to presume the amount of pain a person feels because the nature of many car accident injuries is common knowledge. For example, if a person were to sustain a broken bone from a car accident, the amount of pain and suffering would be presumable as breaking a bone is a shared experience. And it is therefore known that a broken bone can involve surgery, casting, and extensive recovery time.
In instances where the injury is less obvious, such as whiplash, the same presumptions are applicable. Whiplash generally involves damage to the neck’s soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons, and muscles, undetectable in x-rays. However, a doctor may observe neck stiffness, reduced range of motion, and neck instability. And muscle strains are prevalent. Therefore, we can presume the pain and suffering.
How do Insurance Companies Valuate Pain and Suffering?
It is imperative to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after being in a car accident as car accident injuries are often not immediately evident, and insurance companies commonly analyze pain and suffering claims based on three assumptions:
- If you did not seek medical treatment, you were probably not significantly hurt
- The more medical treatment required to treat an injury, the more pain and suffering a person will experience
- The more recovery time, the more pain and suffering a person will experience
These assumptions will likely impact how an insurance adjuster will value your claim. So, if you have been in a car accident, seek out necessary medical treatment as soon as you can to provide the insurance company with evidence to back up your claim. By doing so, your medical records will include your symptoms, injuries, and the doctor’s findings, which insurance companies use in their analysis of your pain and suffering claim.
Lost time from work could also prove the validity of your pain and suffering claim to the insurance company. This is because if you had to take time off of work after your car accident, it is likely that you experienced pain and suffering due to your accident.
What Evidence is Commonly Evaluated by Insurance Companies?
For an insurance adjuster to evaluate your pain and suffering, various types of evidence will be reviewed to determine the validity and extent of your pain and suffering, including:
- Medical records: Doctor’s visits, procedures, doctor’s notes, prescriptions, etc.
- Medical bills: Any medical bills you or your insurance have received from medical treatments after your car accident.
- Photographs: Photographs of you in your wrecked car, you in a hospital bed, your injuries during treatments, etc.
- Receipts: Receipts for over-the-counter medication and other injury-related
- Employment documentation: Documents from your employer detailing any work time lost.
- Journal/notes: Personal documentation of your car accident, your injuries, your recovery, your daily pain levels, tasks you cannot perform, etc.
Suppose you have experienced pain and suffering as a result of a car accident. In that case, it is crucial to seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Call attorney Felix Gonzalez, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, to schedule a consultation today.