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What is Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?

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“Pain and suffering” is a legal term used to describe non-economic damages many people suffer in car accidents. Unlike economic damages, which you can measure using a bill or receipt, non-economic damages are subjective. This means that no two people will value pain and suffering the same way.

Below, our Seattle car accident lawyers take another look at what types of losses are included in pain and suffering and offer tips for maximizing the amount of compensation you receive.

Physical Pain

Bodily injuries first and foremost cause pain. Fractures, burns, strains, and organ damage can cause intense, sometimes blinding pain. The same is true of whiplash, compressed nerves, and concussions. Even on good days, a chronic dull ache can make a person feel sluggish and uncomfortable.

Physical pain like this is part of the category “pain and suffering”—even if you are taking painkillers to blunt the agony. Related conditions, such as sleeplessness caused by pain, are also included in pain and suffering.

Mental Anguish

Many people experience emotional distress or anguish following a car accident. There are usually two causes:

  • Physical injuries. Having a serious bodily injury causes emotional distress. For example, being paralyzed is a particularly severe limitation, and it is natural to experience negative emotions as a result.
  • Emotional trauma. For example, you might have seen your child suffer serious injuries in a car crash. This experience causes post-traumatic stress disorder and other negative emotions. Other accident victims have “flashbacks,” particularly at night, where they re-live the accident.

You might start going to therapy or take antidepressants or other prescription drugs to treat your emotional distress. Accident victims can receive compensation for their emotional pain. The question is how much money “makes up” for the distress you feel after an accident.

Disfigurement or Disability

These are also subjective losses that many accident victims experience. For example, if your car catches on fire, you could receive disfiguring burns on your face or hands. Some accidents also cause amputation or crush injuries which permanently disable a person.

We include disfigurement and disability in “pain and suffering.” As with physical pain and emotional distress, the value of your loss is subjective.

How to Increase Your Pain & Suffering Compensation

Because these losses are subjective, some juries might disbelieve you are really feeling pain or distress. For this reason, we work closely with our clients to fully document the pain and suffering they experience. Although keeping painkiller bottles helps, we might need to interview your family and friends to better understand how the accident has affected you.

You can also offer graphic testimony of the pain or depression you have experienced. Indeed, we often recommend victims keep a pain journal where they record daily how they feel.

Contact Khan Injury Law, PLLC

Pain and suffering damages represent a large portion of most settlements. We will always keep your suffering in mind when negotiating a fair settlement following a car accident. To get started, or to learn more, please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation.

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