In late November, the driver of a red sports utility vehicle barreled through barricades surrounding a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisc., killing five people and injuring 48. While the criminal act may lead to some form of restitution for the victims and their families, it will likely not be enough to compensate them for pain and suffering.
Legally speaking, pain and suffering refers to the lasting physical, mental and emotional stress that result from injury. In the case of a car accident, injured victims — drivers, passengers and pedestrians — can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. If successful, they can recover not only concrete expenses — medical treatment, diagnosis, and property damage — but financial compensation for pain and suffering, as well.
These cases often hinge of the victim’s ability to prove severity of their injuries, but the laws vary from state to state. That’s where an experienced car accident attorney comes in. By calling 1-800-201-1220 or writing to us through WhatsApp, you can receive free legal advice, and, if you need, we can connect you to a car accident attorney in our network who can assist with pain and suffering compensation.
What do ‘no-fault’ and ‘at-fault’ insurance mean?
In most states, when a car accident occurs, a party or parties are deemed to be at fault.
States that have so-called no-fault insurance laws require all drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance. In a no-fault state, a driver who is injured in an auto accident — whether they caused it or not — simply has to file a compensation claim for their injuries. Once the claim is filed, the other driver’s insurance provider must pay, and neither party has to prove who caused the accident. However, the injured driver cannot sue for additional damage, a feature intended to reduce small claims from the court system.
Many states have revised no-fault laws. These revised no-fault laws frequently allow the victim who was not at fault to be released from the responsibility of proving the other party’s fault before they can receive compensation.
California is an example of an at-fault state. Each insurance company pays for damages sustained according to the degree of fault of each party. The at-fault party is responsible for damages to whoever was injured, and their insurance company will pay the injured victim(s). In California, drivers also retain their right to sue for additional damages.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate the laws in your state, and at Conexion Legal, we can also connect you to Spanish-speaking attorneys.
What qualifies as pain and suffering?
- Pain: This includes back pain, neck pain, broken or fractured bones, internal organ damage, nerve damage, headaches, pulled or sprained muscles, dislocated joints and partial or complete paralysis. Any of these can last for years, or become permanent, leaving a victim in constant physical pain.
- Death: In the case of death, the claimant is the survivor of the victim, who can seek compensation for — among other things — grief, worry and the diminishment of quality of life without their loved one.
- Depression: While the loss of a victim’s ability to work is compensated by future wage damages, the depression from having lost a career, a vocation, a purpose or the ability to provide for one’s family can be debilitating.
- Fear: Victims may face panic attacks when driving or as the passenger in a car. They may be unable to drive on highways due to paralyzing fear. All of this qualifies as emotional distress and can severely affect a victim’s continuing quality of life.
- Insomnia: The inability to get a full night’s sleep can contribute to depression and anxiety, daytime fatigue (which can impact job performance), mood changes, irritability and gastrointestinal symptoms. It may also play a role in the development of chronic illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Scars or disfigurement: The loss of one’s self image can shatter a person’s psyche, affecting a person’s self worth and confidence, altering or limiting their social interactions, and even contributing to marital difficulties.
- Temporary and permanent physical or mental limitations: Loss of function can manifest physically — limited range of motion, severed digits or extremities, partial loss of vision or hearing — and mentally. Traumatic brain injuries can permanently alter and damage structures in the brain, affecting a person’s cognitive functions and their ability to regulate their emotional state.
- Anxiety: Anxiety is normally a healthy emotion — it helps us avoid potentially harmful or worrying circumstances or situations. With anxiety com a set of fight-or-flight responses, or a condition of heightened awareness, which includes a raised heartbeat, sweating, a flood of adrenaline and increased sensitivity to one’s surroundings. Excessive and prolonged anxiety — nervousness, fear, apprehension and worry — can have negative impacts on one’s physical health. It can increase blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular disease.
In many cases, victims will need to prove that they have been victims of pain and suffering. That proof can take the form of doctor’s notes, medical evidence, photographs, personal journals that document the victim’s pain and notes from therapists or mental health professionals.
No matter whether your state is an at-fault or a no-fault state, the legal processes that follow a car accident are confusing and intensive. Personal injury proceedings require meticulous attention to detail and calm confidence — attributes that are a lot to ask from trauma victims in a process that requires them to re-live that trauma and to prove it. That’s why having a car accident lawyer who specializes in cases like yours can help. Call Conexion Legal at 1-800-201-1220 or write to us through WhatsApp, for a free legal consultation. If you need, we can connect you to a car accident attorney in our network who can assist with pain and suffering compensation.