Talk to a lawyer for Free 24/7 (314) 361-4242 : Pain and suffering is a term that describes the physical pain and emotional anguish (or mental distress) you suffer following a car accident.
Have you been the victim of a serious car or truck crash? Did someone else’s carelessness cause the crash? Among the damages you may be entitled to recover, you may also seek compensation for pain and suffering.
What exactly is pain and suffering? How are pain and suffering damages determined? How do you establish liability in a pain and suffering case?
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a term that describes the physical pain and emotional anguish (or mental distress) you suffer following an accident. Pain and suffering can last for days, weeks, or even years.
In Missouri, these are referred to as non-economic damages. If the accident was the other party’s fault and you have suffered physical, mental, and emotional injuries, you may make a claim for pain and suffering.
Can I Make a Claim for Pain and Suffering?
Whether or not you can claim for pain and suffering depends on where the accident occurred. If it occurred in a no-fault state, the insurer will pay for the damages irrespective of who was at fault. In such states, you can make a claim against the other driver only if the damages exceed a certain level. Missouri, however, is a fault state, and the victim can file a car accident claim against the party at fault irrespective of how minor or severe the injuries are.
Symptoms That Can Emerge After a Minor Car Accident
Minor accidents rarely cause serious injuries, but any accident can result in minor injuries. A minor accident can cause headaches, pains in the back, neck or shoulder, or ligament or muscle strains and sprains. The victim may experience these symptoms immediately after the accident or they may emerge after hours or even days.
It is advisable to seek medical attention even if you believe your injuries are minor. This will prove helpful in case the injuries become more painful over time, protecting your right to compensation.
What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering in Missouri?
Since people respond differently to car crashes and the resulting injuries, what qualifies as pain and suffering can vary in seemingly similar car accident injury claims. That said, pain and suffering generally fall into the following categories:
- Past pain and suffering: This accounts for humiliation, distress, physical pain, worry, and embarrassment suffered when the accident occurred.
- Future pain and suffering: This accounts for distress, humiliation, physical pain, embarrassment, and worry you may suffer in the future due to the accident.
- Disfigurement: You can get compensation for scars caused by an accident or surgery done to treat your injuries.
- Loss of consortium: Does your injury limit your interaction with your spouse? If yes, your spouse may choose to seek compensation for lost companionship.
- Loss of life happiness: You may seek compensation if you can no longer enjoy your life because of your injuries.
Pain and suffering damages are usually referred to as non-economic losses because they are not easy to calculate in monetary terms.
How is a Claim for Pain and Suffering Calculated?
When placing a monetary value on your pain and suffering damages, the following factors will generally be considered:
- How the injury will affect your daily work routine
- How the injury will affect your relationship with other people at work or home
- How the injury will affect you in the long term
- The extent to which your injuries may affect your lifestyle factors such as sleep.
Here is an example. Imagine driving back home from the office and being hit by a drunk driver. The accident was minor, and only minimal damage was caused to the vehicle. However, after you reach home, you start feeling minor pain in the neck and shoulder area. You visit a doctor and find out that there is nothing to worry about, and he sends you back and asks to return if the problem persists after a week. The condition does not improve, and you have to seek physical therapy for a few weeks. In such a situation, even though the economic damages were not substantial, you have had to endure pain and suffering for a period of time because of another driver’s negligence.
Proving Pain and Suffering
To get your claim approved, you need to prove that the accident caused your pain or suffering. You’ll also be required to show how your lifestyle has been affected. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you gather solid evidence, demonstrate how your pain and suffering have affected your personal life, and present your case.
Even though you may not expect to receive substantial compensation, you can certainly get something to ease your discomfort. It may be a good idea to file non-economic damages in case of a minor car accident. Do not let go of your right to compensation. If you have been a victim of a minor car accident, speak with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney at The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. to learn more about your legal rights and options after a car accident.
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