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How much can I get for pain and suffering in a car accident?

The easy answer is “it depends” on the severity of your injuries. Someone who claims pain and suffering due to a sprain on their video gaming finger will likely not get as much of a settlement as someone who received a leg injury the day before they were supposed to run an Olympic race.

Another major factor in determining the amount of a pain and suffering settlement is the type of state you live in. There are tort states and no-fault states. Which one you live in determines whether you are even allowed to sue for pain and suffering.

In some cases, pain and suffering awards are determined by a meeting between the two insurance companies. Other times, a lawsuit is filed and a jury must determine how much to award for pain and suffering in an auto accident, if anything at all.

When a jury gets involved in deciding an award for pain and suffering, the human element adds a completely new level of factors that affect the decision. A jury should consider the extent of the injury, pre-existing injury, the documented proof of pain and suffering and the credibility of the witnesses involved. Being human, a jury when making their final determination, might also consider:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Occupation
  • Social status
  • Competence of the attorney
  • Your appearance

What is pain and suffering in an insurance claim?

Pain and suffering is the legal term for the emotional and physical stress that an injury causes. Pain and suffering might include:

  • Lingering aches and pains
  • Depression
  • Shortened lifespan
  • Other quality of life issues
  • and more

People can get documented proof of pain and suffering in a few different ways. Sometimes a psychologist or psychiatrist’s report can tell about emotional distress. Receipts for a new mattress or sleeping pills if pain is preventing sleep could prove some degree of pain and suffering, too.

What are tort and no-fault liability states?

So-called tort states assign drivers to pay for damages based on their level of fault in an accident. Drivers can be sued for things like pain and suffering and financial losses as the result of an accident in a tort state. This can often lead to long and complicated court battles over who is responsible for what.

Almost half of the states in the United States currently use a no-fault system of liability for car accidents. The advantage for drivers is that under this system they don’t have to prove their innocence before they can be compensated for damages. The bad news is that even if a driver is clearly at fault, that driver cannot be sued for pain and suffering or emotional distress.

When would a lawsuit be necessary to get payment for pain and suffering from an auto accident?

People would almost certainly need to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering if the person who caused the auto accident that hurt them was not insured. Otherwise, someone may decide to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering if the insurance company declines to pay or offers an unreasonable amount of payment. If a lawsuit is required, it is best to have written documentation, including expenses related to the pain and suffering, to prove the case.

Incidentally, a lawsuit may also be recommended if an accident involved a fatality. This case goes far beyond normal pain and suffering, so the lawsuit filed would be a civil suit for wrongful death.”

Can I be compensated for pain and suffering in an auto accident that is my fault?

In general, there is nobody else to seek pain and suffering damages from if you cause an accident. If you live in a tort state, you and your insurance would be liable for the cost of the accident, or at least as much of it as could be blamed on you.

It is not possible to seek pain and suffering damages from a car accident in a no-fault state, but there are still a few more options than you would have in a tort state. Even if the accident were your fault, your insurance would cover medical expenses in a no-fault state. You could also get personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in a no-fault state, which would cover medical expenses not paid by regular insurance, lost wages, and even burial expenses.

How long does it take to settle claims of pain and suffering after an accident?

The average time for settlement after a car accident is about one year, but since pain and suffering is a lingering, ongoing problem, it can sometimes stretch out the settlement process. You should be careful to take your time and get all the necessary treatments and clearances from your doctor before finalizing the settlement.

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