If you’ve ever been in an accident, you already may be familiar with “pain and suffering” as a legal term. Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional stress caused by an accident. Attorneys sometimes refer to this as the “hassle” factor for having to deal with the aftermath of an accident. It can include everyday aches and pains, as well as emotional distress that few may be aware of.
Ultimately, pain and suffering is a catch-all term used for classifying general damages. In Arizona, California and Colorado, for example, there are jury instructions that explain what specific types of damages a claimant is entitled to. In Arizona, juries are asked to consider “the pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future as a result of your injury.”
When determining the value of a case, pain and suffering is just one aspect the overall damage calculation. Beyond property damage, a client’s medical bills and lost wages — and other factors, such as physical impairment and emotional distress, as well as the physical location of the accident — also need to be considered.
By evaluating the totality of a situation, an experienced lawyer can place a value on a claim, and educate the client on what a fair settlement might be.
Average Pain and Suffering Settlements
Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding pain and suffering settlements. Perhaps the greatest myth of all is that it’s possible to find an “average” pain and suffering settlement.
After all, numerous websites offer pain and suffering calculators. If you are an accident victim who is trying to determine what your case is worth, you may have already encountered a variety of articles offering guidance on settlement averages.
Regrettably, in reality, there is no such thing as an average pain and suffering settlement. This is especially the case for car accidents, because no two car accidents are exactly same. In fact, at Negretti & Associates, we sometimes represent multiple people involved in the same car accident, and each person’s injuries are different. Each person’s pain and suffering damages settlement will vary depending on his or her injuries.
Rather than trying to figure out an average settlement, accident victims really should be trying to determine whether their settlement seems fair, based on their individual circumstances.
Measuring Pain and Suffering
A measure of pain and suffering often comes by way of an impairment rating. At Negretti & Associates, when clients are injured to the point of being permanently impaired, we have them evaluated for an impairment rating. This rating typically comes in the form of a percentage.
For example, a client may have a 6 percent impairment in her wrist. This impairment is really a form of pain and suffering. Using our knowledge of impairment ratings, we are able to capture compensation that reflects the pain and suffering that the client would experience due to the impairment.
Pain and Suffering Due to Emotional Distress
Emotional distress is a recognized claim that can be made within the aspect of pain and suffering. Emotional distress is almost always felt and rarely seen. Sometimes the outward manifestation of an emotional reaction can be detected, but most of the time people suffer in silence.
One of the biggest emotional distresses that we see from our clients is anxiety after an auto accident. Our clients often tell us that they get really anxious driving after an auto accident and feel an overwhelmed and fearful that everyone is going to hit them. In some cases, this emotional distress becomes so debilitating that clients have to seek treatment from a medical professional for possible diagnoses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Emotional distress is an important part of your pain and suffering claim. At Negretti and Associates we usually ask each client to write a victim impact statement, so that we can help the insurance company better understand the emotional distress that our client suffered.
In one pain and suffering case, Negretti & Associates represented a young girl who was traumatized from being locked inside of a store and not allowed to leave. We were able to work with our client to understand the root of her trauma. Through the medical professionals who treated her, we were able to better grasp the night terrors that she suffered from. Armed with this information, we negotiated a settlement that included the pain and suffering that this young girl experienced — and was expected to continue to experience.
Get the Help You Need
At Negretti & Associates, our team of experienced lawyers works to negotiate on behalf of our clients, to ensure that we reach the target value that we place on a case.
If you have a pain and suffering settlement question, call us at 602-531-3911 in Arizona, 619-777-3370 in California, or 720-636-3444 in Colorado. Or, you can contact us with our online form. We’ll be happy to talk with you.