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Monday, January 16, 2017

Recovering Pain and Suffering Damages After a Texas Automobile Accident

How is compensation for pain and suffering determined after a car crash?

Every day, newspapers are filled with accounts of motor vehicle accidents in Texas, some fiery and catastrophic, others non-fatal but still serious.

If you are the victim of a car accident you have the right to seek damages for your medical costs and economic losses caused by your injuries.

But what of pain and suffering? You may also be able to recover for the emotional trauma and distress you have experienced. These damages, however, can be harder to prove and quantify.

Tangible Losses May Form the Basis for Harder-to-Measure Pain and Suffering

While "pain and suffering" might seem to be a category unto itself, courts and insurers frequently look at other, easier-to-measure losses to reach conclusion. These include:

  • Medical expenses (both in the aftermath of an accident and ongoing, e.g. for medication, rehab, and continuing care)
  • Lost income from missed work
  • Damage to your car and other property

High costs in any or all of these categories might lead an insurer or jury to make a large pain and suffering award. Insurers sometimes apply a multiple to economic losses to determine the amount to offer for non-economic losses. This offer is sometimes just a starting point for negotiations, and a personal injury attorney may be able to obtain a higher figure for you.

Additional Factors That May Play a Role in Quantifying Pain and Suffering

Even with the same injury, different plaintiffs can receive different amounts for pain and suffering from juries or insurance adjusters based on a variety of factors.

Employment. Fairly or not, a homemaker might receive less in pain and suffering than a career person whose livelihood was adversely affected.

Age. An older victim might receive more sympathy and a larger award. Or a jury might feel that an older victim was close to retirement anyway and less needy, whereas a younger victim would need more compensation for the many years ahead.

Location. If the case is brought in a large city, the damages may be much higher than those awarded in a small rural town

Credibility. The performance of the plaintiff and witnesses on the stand may play a role in determining whether claims of pain and suffering can be believed.

The Attorney. If an attorney is not skilled in swaying jurors in personal injury cases or in negotiating with insurers, the size of the award may be smaller.

Seeking Expert Legal Advice is Essential

If you have survived a serious car crash, you may be entitled to compensation for both your economic losses and your pain and suffering. Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer is the first step. Your attorney can advise you on the strength of your claim and on the best strategy for getting the maximum in damages.

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