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What does ‘pain and suffering’ mean, and how can I file a claim for it?

Personal injury damages do not include physical damages to the car or to your body. They also include damages that you cannot see. Pain and suffering is a term often thrown out when the topic of personal injury litigation is discussed. Can you claim pain and suffering, too? How do you go about doing this?

We have asked a legal expert, attorney Alaina Sullivan, about her take on the matter. Here is what she had to say:

What Is Pain and Suffering?

The term “pain and suffering” covers emotional and mental injuries a victim of an accident may experience as a result of that accident. These emotional injuries can involve depression, anxiety, grief, fear, insomnia or loss of enjoyment of life. When someone has been in a car accident and is forever disabled, he or she may long for the life that person had prior to the accident and may experience severe depression as a result of not being able to do what they once did.

That type of emotional anguish is known as pain and suffering.

A Lawyer Explains What the Term 'Pain and Suffering' Mean

The Trouble with Pain and Suffering

Proving that someone has been emotionally “damaged” is not as easy as proving physical damages. At least with physical injuries, you are able to see the injuries and see the physical changes. With emotional damages, they are not visible to the human eye, leading many insurance companies to allege that the plaintiff is embellishing or making up the amount of distress he or she is experiencing.

How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?

Proving pain and suffering damages is not easy. One relatively straightforward way to do this is to show proof of treatment by a mental health professional. The proof would obviously need to be treatment after the accident occurred, and it is often helpful to have a professional diagnosis to back your claim.

However, keep in mind that mental health records are extremely private and confidential. Do not disclose more than you have to disclose in order to protect your privacy. Testimony from your friends and family can also assist if they can talk about how you were prior to the accident as compared to the increased anxiety or depression you are now experiencing.

How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

Many insurance companies will use what is called the multiplier method in calculating settlements. They will take the plaintiff’s actual damages, meaning medical bills and lost wages, and multiple it by a certain number, based on the severity of the accident.

This number is usually a ranking from one to five with five being the most serious. The number that results from this multiplication represents the amount in pain and suffering damages.

Another method involves a per diem or per day approach. Under this method, a certain amount is assigned to each day, from the day of the accident until the plaintiff is deemed to be recovered to the maximum extent possible.

This method can be subjective, however, since maximum recovery can mean two things to different people.

Speak with an attorney if you believe you should be awarded pain and suffering damages and get a general idea of what is reasonable in your specific circumstance.

Contact an attorney today

A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. For the best chance of receiving the compensation you need to pay for medical bills, auto body bills, and pain and suffering, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.

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