After an accident, you likely face a long road to recovery from your injuries and mounting medical bills. It can feel frustrating and discouraging to deal with the consequences of someone’s wrongdoing. And you may be carrying heavy financial burdens.
If someone causes you harm, it’s only fair for them to pay for their actions. A personal injury lawsuit can help you hold the responsible party accountable and pursue financial compensation for your losses.
Pain and suffering may be among your damages. However, you may wonder whether seeking pain and suffering damages is possible without a lawyer. In short, you never want to handle your personal injury claim and attempt to collect your damages yourself.
Managing your case alone will not produce the same results that a personal injury attorney could achieve. Always discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer after sustaining injuries resulting in pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering Are Non-Economic Damages
When you file a personal injury lawsuit or pursue financial recovery for your injuries, you’re attempting to obtain damages. Damages serve to compensate you for your injuries and losses. Damages are either economic or non-economic.
Economic damages represent the tangible losses you suffer after an accident or incident. They are typically easy to prove and quantify if evidence and documentation are available. Economic damages include medical expenses and lost wages.
In contrast, non-economic damages represent your intangible losses. These damages are not as easy to calculate and prove. Pain and suffering is a typical example of non-economic damages.
While some states have caps on non-economic damages, California generally does not, except in medical malpractice cases.
What Does Pain and Suffering Mean?
Pain and suffering refers to the physical and mental pain you suffer after an accident.
Injuries from an accident often require a long recovery period. And they might also leave you in excruciating pain.
Physical pain is common after:
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Internal injuries
- Nerve damage
This physical pain after sustaining injuries in an accident can last for extended periods. Your injuries might even leave you with permanent disabilities.
Accidents can also affect you mentally and emotionally.
Some common examples of mental pain and suffering include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Cognitive changes
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
An accident’s mental and emotional effects and resulting injuries can last for months, years, or even a lifetime.
What Cases Allow You to Ask for Pain and Suffering Damages?
Pain and suffering damages are associated with cases involving accidents and injuries.
Some of the most common cases where you can pursue pain and suffering damages include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and falls
- Brain injuries
- Amputation injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
After sustaining injuries due to another party’s wrongdoing, you can pursue damages for your losses, including pain and suffering damages.
Determining the Value of Your Pain and Suffering Damages
Many states use formulas to calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering. California does not have a standard formula. It is up to the plaintiff to provide evidence proving these losses.
Many factors help assign a value to your pain and suffering damages.
These factors can include:
- The extent and severity of your injuries
- The total amount of your economic losses
- How your injuries have affected you
- Whether you suffered scarring or disfigurement
- The strength of the evidence proving losses
- The extent of the defendant’s wrongdoing
You’ll have to provide strong evidence to prove your pain and suffering damages.
This evidence may include:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Photos and videos
- A letter or testimony from a physician
- Notes or testimony from a mental health therapist
- Testimony from family and friends
- Expert testimony
Without solid evidence, your chances of obtaining pain and suffering damages weaken.
Having some fault in the accident that caused your injuries can affect your financial recovery. California operates under pure comparative fault. This means that your percentage of fault reduces your settlement amount.
Can You Ask for Pain and Suffering Without a Lawyer?
You may want to handle your personal injury case by yourself. You may not know how to find a lawyer or worry about attorneys fees.
Pursuing damages for your injuries and losses without the help of an attorney will almost always harm your case.
You need to enter your legal fight well equipped and ready for anything. A lawyer can provide valuable help. And because most personal injury attorneys work on contingency, you will not pay fees until you receive a settlement.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer to Pursue Damages?
If you’re unfamiliar with personal injury lawsuits, you might not know that handling even simple claims can quickly become challenging.
Below are only a few of the most important reasons why having a personal injury attorney take on your case is critical to the success of your claim.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Is Knowledgeable and Experienced
An attorney has the education and skills needed to handle your personal injury case. They also have been trained in the laws and legal procedures relevant to your claim.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Creates a Legal Plan
No two cases are the same; therefore, every case requires a unique plan. What works for one case may not work for another, so your attorney can tailor their approach to your situation and desired outcome.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Makes Sure You’re Not Taken Advantage of
Insurance companies prey on the unrepresented. When an insurer knows you’re handling your claim independently, they aim to take full advantage, assuming you do not know the law or what you can receive monetarily. They’ll attempt to settle with you quickly and for a meager amount.
Having a lawyer helps keep insurance companies from taking advantage of you. Your attorney knows how to handle and communicate with insurance companies to get you the settlement you deserve.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Resolve Your Case Faster
If you’ve never handled a personal injury case, it can take quite some time to figure out. Additionally, even if you represent yourself, courts hold you to the same standard as licensed attorneys: You’ll have a lot to learn in little time.
A lawyer handles your case promptly and competently, helping you resolve it in less time.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Represent You in Court
Going to trial is intimidating, especially when you’re inexperienced. But if your case goes to court, you can feel confident knowing your personal injury lawyer will go into trial well prepared and ready to fight for justice. They must do what is in your best interests, in and out of the courtroom.
How an Attorney Works to Get You the Compensation You Deserve?
Depending on the details of your situation, your attorney will make important decisions regarding a legal plan. While the course of action may differ, you can generally expect the following steps.
Before formally filing a lawsuit, your personal injury attorney may mail the insurance company a demand letter. The demand letter seeks to begin settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
A demand letter includes:
- Information regarding your accident
- Reasoning as to their insured’s liability for your accident
- The extent and severity of your injuries and financial losses
Your lawyer will then include a settlement figure based on calculations of your economic and non-economic damages.
If the insurance company agrees to settle, that resolves your case without requiring a lawsuit. However, your attorney can proceed with a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to settle or fails to answer.
Your personal injury lawyer formally begins a personal injury lawsuit by drafting and filing required documents with the court. Next, they’ll serve the other side with papers to inform them of the lawsuit.
During the life of the lawsuit, your attorney will work to build a strong case on your behalf to help get you the compensation you need.
Your lawyer will:
- Thoroughly investigate your accident
- Gather relevant evidence and documentation
- Request pertinent information from the defense
- Interview witnesses and experts
It helps to have an attorney handle your claim because of the time restrictions on lawsuits. The statute of limitations for accident cases in California is two years from the date of the accident.
If you fail to file your lawsuit within the deadline, you lose your right to pursue financial recovery. A personal injury lawyer is fully aware of this deadline; therefore, they can ensure your case is filed promptly with the court to avoid any issues.
Your attorney will do everything possible to pursue compensation for you. They know how to file your lawsuit and prove your damages, including pain and suffering.
Pre-Trial Settlement Negotiations
Before your case goes to trial, your personal injury lawyer will once again attempt to engage in settlement negotiations with the opposing party. Settlement negotiations are quite different during pre-trial, as both parties have had the opportunity to work on their cases and collect the evidence and information needed.
Many cases settle during this phase of a lawsuit. Settlements are often successful because the other side wants to avoid the extra time, energy, and expense of trial.
If your case does not settle, it can move along to trial. While trial can seem scary and stressful, your personal injury attorney will know how to represent you and work toward a favorable outcome.
During the trial, both sides present their cases along with evidence and testimony. The trial may occur in front of a judge alone or a judge and jury. At the end of the trial, the judge and jury have enough information to decide whether you should receive compensation and how much recovery is fair for your situation.
Do I Need to Go to Trial to Get Pain and Suffering Compensation?
Going to trial is not the only option for receiving pain and suffering damages.
Whether your case goes to court or not, you’ll still have the chance to pursue economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.
Your personal injury attorney can calculate the total damages to determine what your case is worth. Then, they can pursue a settlement outside of court for this amount. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer can provide proof of your damages to the judge or jury to grant your financial recovery.
Personal injury lawyers usually aim to resolve accident cases as quickly and efficiently as possible while seeking maximum compensation for clients. Your attorney will do the same for you. Whether a trial is in the cards or not, your lawyer will strive to get the settlement you’re entitled to receive.
Consult a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away
After sustaining injuries in an accident, you don’t have to go at it alone. A personal injury attorney has the skills and resources to help you pursue damages for your injuries and other losses.
No one understands personal injury cases better than a lawyer. You can trust they’ll do everything in their power to get you the most favorable outcome while providing the compassion and kindness you need during a trying time.