Unlike a broken arm or a dented fender, pain and suffering is both subjective and intangible — and therefore difficult to prove. So what should you keep in mind when suing for pain and suffering in a car accident?
What Are Economic and Non-Economic Damages?
In a car accident, you are entitled to collect both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages are all of your out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury. This includes medical expenses, lost time from work, and any other monetary damages incurred by the accident.
- Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to valuate. These include physical stress, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, reduction in quality of life, and other less tangible losses.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering
If you are suing for pain and suffering in a car accident, what will you need to prove to the court?
Of course, medical evidence can be used to prove that you have a broken arm. But more is involved — the court will take into account the severity and permanency of the injury, as well as its effect on your life.
For example, let’s say you’re an avid tennis player. A broken arm would have a much more negative impact on you than on someone who likes to read in their spare time. Also, if the injury requires you to undergo prolonged, intense medical treatment, the agony of the physical pain could cause a great deal of mental stress as well.You would need to show that you suffered a significant emotional stress or loss of enjoyment to recover pain and suffering damages.
How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Texas?
Texas courts will consider a number of factors when assessing pain and suffering damages:
- Pain from medical treatment;
- Whether or not that pain is likely to go away with time or become chronic;
- Emotional or psychological stress related to the accident;
- Whether the pain prevents you from enjoying activities you enjoyed in the past;
- Whether your quality of life been reduced because of the injury.
After this analysis has been made, the court will use a multiplier between 1 and 5 to assign non-economic damages. This multiplier will be applied to specific economic damages. You will then receive get a number that represents your pain and suffering damages.
In cases where the injury resulted in permanent disability such as brain damage, chronic pain that prevents you from working, or disfigurement, the multiplier will be higher. In cases where you suffered acute but manageable pain, the multiplier will be lower.
What Are Damage Caps in Texas?
Unlike economic damages, there are limits on how much you can receive from a negligent party in terms of non-economic damages. The figure is capped at $250,000 and applies to all personal injury lawsuits.
Pain and Suffering in Insurance Claims
When you file a claim against a negligent party’s insurance, you can be sure that their insurance company will not be eager to pay out. The insurance company may assert that your pain is due to a pre-existing injury or simply that it’s not as bad as you say it is. They will then offer you some amount that is significantly lower than what you believe you probably should get.
Remember that you’re in a negotiation. The insurance adjuster’s job is to settle the claim for as little money as they can get away with. Your car accident attorney’s job is to maximize the value of your claim.
Suing for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident in Court
When you’re owed more than a negligent driver’s insurance policy covers, you can file a lawsuit against the negligent party directly and thus recover the difference. However, you will have to prove that the defendant acted negligently and you will need to show the court that your claims for non-economic damages are backed up by significant evidence.
In this case, the defendant will usually attempt to lay the blame at your feet. If the court determines that you are more than 50% responsible for the accident, you will be barred from collecting any damages related to the accident.
Speak to a San Antonio Car Accident Attorney Today
In Texas, suing for pain and suffering in a car accident can be a difficult and confusing process. An experienced attorney knows what works and what doesn’t, and whether settlement or litigation is the best option. To learn more about how we can help, contact Brylak Law today.