What is “Pain and Suffering” After a Car Accident in Florida?
Different types of compensation may be available to the victim of a car accident in Florida. In personal injury law, financial compensation is also described as “damages.” For example, you might have heard about a jury “awarding damages” to a plaintiff who won their case in court. Different types of damages are meant to compensate, to the greatest extent possible, different types of losses that the victim has sustained. One example is damages for “pain and suffering,” an important legal term that repeatedly arises in personal injury cases. In this article, Miami auto accident lawyer Prosper Shaked discusses how damages for pain and suffering are calculated, and how they are different from other types of compensation that may be available to the accident victim. If you or a family member was recently injured in a vehicular accident in the Miami region, Prosper Shaked can help you fight for the compensation for your pain and suffering and other losses.
Types of Compensation for a Car Accident in FL
There are many different categories and subcategories of damages in a Florida car accident case. The legal terminology can create confusion for accident victims. This article will help to clear up some of the confusion by explaining each of these categories in detail. Of course, there is no need for you to worry about memorizing these terms – your injury attorney will be there to continually guide you, advise you, and answer your questions as your case progresses. This article is simply meant to shed some light on how damages are broken down in a personal injury case involving an automotive accident in Florida.
There are two basic types of damages in a car accident case:
- Compensatory Damages
- Punitive Damages
As you probably guessed from the name, compensatory damages are designed to compensate the accident victim. While it is impossible to rewind the clock on a crash that has already occurred, compensatory damages endeavor to make the accident victim “whole” again to the greatest practicable degree. Compensatory damages can be broken down into several subcategories, which will be explained momentarily.
Punitive damages do not serve the same purpose as compensatory damages. While compensatory damages seek to restore and reimburse the victim for losses he or she has sustained, punitive damages are actually meant to punish the defendant. For this reason, punitive damages are specifically awarded in situations where the defendant is found to have acted with “gross” (extreme) negligence. In short, punitive damages are meant to send a signal: unsafe driving will lead to serious financial consequences. It is more common for injury victims to be awarded compensatory damages than punitive damages, though both may be available.
Damages for Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Case
As mentioned a few moments ago, compensatory damages can be divided into different subcategories, which is where “pain and suffering” comes into play. These subcategories are:
- Monetary damages, or compensation for your financial losses. Monetary damages are also called “economic damages” or “special damages.” Special damages compensate tangible, out-of-pocket expenses and economic losses, including:
- Damage to your property or vehicle, which might need costly repairs
- Lost income or wages, including the anticipated reduction to your earning capacity in the future
- Medical bills such as surgery and hospitalization, including your anticipated medical costs
- Non-monetary damages, or compensation for losses that are not financial in nature. Non-monetary damages are also called “non-economic damages” or “general damages.” Damages for pain and suffering belong in this category, because pain and suffering is a physical experience – not a financial loss. Other examples of non-economic damages include compensation for:
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of “consortium,” which broadly refers to the affection and care that a husband or wife provides to his or her spouse/household
- Loss of enjoyment of life
There is simply no objective way to calculate the “value” of a person’s emotional anguish or physical agony in the same way a person might be reimbursed for a hospital bill totaling a given amount or the number of work days missed. However, there are proven methods to help insurance adjusters or potential jurors (the individuals who decide how much to award you for your pain and suffering) quantify just how much your pain and suffering is worth. To come up with the fairest and most reasonable amount, factors such as the severity of the injuries, and their impact on the victim’s daily life, will be considered. Your attorney must present evidence of the most basic changes in your everyday life. Some examples can include:
- The negative feelings and loss of self-worth you have because of the difficulty or your inability to perform basic daily tasks like getting out bed in the morning, cooking your own meals, driving your children to school, and playing with your dog.
- Your loss of joy in life. Despite making significant progress with physicians, friends and family, you may never get to where you were before the accident. Simply put, your lust for life is just not what it once was.
- Your inability to fulfill the roles and positions you once occupied. Often, injury victims are forced to take the backseat in their home and work lives. These types of setbacks are often difficult for people other than yourself to realize and appreciate.
To truly and accurately calculate your pain and suffering the insurance adjuster or juror must sense the negative impact the accident has had on your daily life. Your attorney must present evidence of the changes in your life in a way that puts the observer in your own shoes. The best methods for presenting this type of evidence depends on the stage of your claim, but generally include:
- Video can be a very powerful tool that can depict the struggles of your daily life. A video depicting your every day from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep provides the people calculating your pain and suffering with an opportunity see and hear everything for themselves.
- Testimony, or statements, from people who knew you before the accident describing how you’ve changed since it happened. These people can include anyone from your close family and friends to the neighbor 5 houses down who sees you a couple times a week. For example, this type of witness can include your former tennis partner who will talk about she misses playing with you every Thursday morning because you can’t play anymore. Your attorney will need to present different stories from multiple witnesses to truly illustrate your pain and suffering.
Your attorney will present the evidence in a way that is designed to maximize the amount of compensation that you can receive.
Miami Car Crash Lawyer Handling Injury Settlements and Lawsuits
You may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical care expenses, and other losses that you have sustained because of your car crash injuries. However, the insurance company you are fighting against will likely attempt to deny liability, extend unfair settlement offers, or use other tactics to reduce the compensation you receive. A skilled Miami personal injury lawyer like Prosper Shaked can combat these tactics to demonstrate liability and increase the worth of your claim. For a free consultation about how to seek compensation for a car accident injury in Miami, contact the Law Offices of Prosper Shaked online, or call today at (305) 690-0244.