Many people have a hard time wrapping their mind around understand what constitutes pain and suffering in a personal injury / car accident claim and how to go about maximizing the claim for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage. In California where I am licensed to practice law, we call it general damages versus specific damages, which refer to hard bills such as medical bills, car damages, loss of wages and damages with otherwise clear monetary value. However, general damages are difficult to calculate. In order to claim this by putting a money value to it will first require an understanding of what this pain and suffering is. As a California car accident lawyer, calculating and maximizing pain and suffering is the biggest job an attorney must be able to excel in order to make hiring a personal injury attorney worth it economically for clients.
Pain and suffering constitutes any loss and suffering caused by the accident. Pain and suffering is ascertained through ways of objective means in the eyes of jurors in a courtroom. A plaintiff’s attorney must be able to persuade reasonable minded jurors on how much the pain and suffering will cost on top of the specific damages. Factors involved in calculating pain and suffering include how long you need to be treated for the injury; the level of pain; loss of freedom; loss of happiness; loss of hobby; loss of sexual pleasure; loss of family time; inability to care of children like before the accident; likelihood of future occurrence of such injury and more. To calculate how much these factors actually impacted the plaintiff will require a well presented story of the plaintiff in a courtroom. A good trial lawyer must be able to tell a story of the plaintiff in ways relatable to ordinary people. Without establishing an understanding of what the day to day life was like before the accident, it is difficult to grasp the level of loss of happiness and sympathy. Of course, all this is when the case actually goes to a trial after a lawsuit is filed. Therefore, it is always a good idea to hire a lawyer to handle your accident claim if there was an injury. If you’re in Sacramento areas, Peter Park Law, a Sacramento personal injury attorney can help handling accident injury claims.
In cases where an injury is slight or minimal, it is often not a good idea to hire an attorney. So in that case, how do I actually go about as a lay person to maximize the pain and suffering portion of your claim? Use a demand letter stating 1) extent of your injury and 2) pain and inconvenience you suffered as a result of the injury. Do not use an astronomical dollar amount but be reasonable. Also, as an injury as minor and since you’re doing it on your own, I assume that this claim will be under the dollar limit for small claims court in your area. Suggest in your demand letter that you’re going to pursue a legal action in a small claims court unless the demand is met satisfactorily. Insurance companies do not like going to courts. It costs money for their defense attorney to defend lawsuits than to throw in a couple more thousand dollars to meet your demand.
In sum, the best negotiation is achieved by the best negotiator in car accident cases. A car accident attorney is usually far better equipped than non-attorneys to negotiate a case because of legal skills in his armory that can potentially cost the insurance company a lot more money if a case went to a trial. However, it does not mean that a lay person cannot negotiate on their behalf. Like discussed above, if an injury is slight and hiring an attorney doesn’t make sense, show your willingness to bring the claim in a small claims court and demand your general damages reasonably. You will be able to maximize your pain and suffering portion of the claim.