Do Insurance Companies Automatically Compensate for Pain and Suffering After an Accident?
As an accident victim in North Carolina, you probably know you may collect damages for your medical expenses and lost wages. But what about your mental trauma, constant physical pain, and reduced quality of life? Can you access insurance benefits to collect money for pain and suffering, and how does this type of compensation work?
What Exactly Is “Pain and Suffering”?
The term “pain and suffering” refers to noneconomic damages you may have sustained because of your accident. This includes anything other than out-of-pocket expenses, bills, and financial losses arising from the collision. The at-fault driver owes for medical expenses (past and future), lost wages (past and future), and other expenses arising from your injuries (i.e. home modifications, walkers, orthotic devices, etc.). Beyond this, North Carolina law also provides that the collision victim is entitled to tax-free cash payment for “general damages”, also typically labeled “pain and suffering”.
Pain and suffering compensation is allowed under our laws as an effort to indemnify the victim, meaning making them whole following a collision. The law, of course, has no way of eliminating suffering arising from serious injuries. However, the effort is made to offset the suffering by allowing the victim to receive cash payment for the physical pain and emotional suffering that they endured due to their crash-related injuries.
When our law firm presents a claim for pain and suffering, we look at each client’s life circumstances before and after the collision and show the opposition to how the car accident and related injuries impacted the victim’s physical ability, quality of life, and overall health. We closely analyze all medical records and use this evidence to show the victim’s complaints of ongoing pain throughout the recovery process. We look at what our clients missed, such as planned vacations or family events, due to their injuries and temporary disability to show emotional hardships arising from physical injury. We also highlight all available evidence to show post-traumatic depression, sleep loss, and other obvious evidence of anxiety and emotional suffering to show how injuries impacted our client’s mental well-being. If the car accident results in permanent disability, scarring, or disfigurement, these circumstances translate to very valuable claims for both physical and emotional hardship.
Simply put, pain and suffering claims must be backed by clear evidence, anecdotal and medical, and a strong threat of lawsuit filing and successful litigation. With proper evidence and a solid push, insurance companies will give in and pay generous tax-free compensation for pain and suffering. However, if you simply allow the insurance company to value your claim, they often fail to even mention this element of damages and they ALWAYS try to pay as little as possible for pain and suffering.
Do Insurance Companies Compensate for Pain and Suffering?
Do insurance companies consider factors like pain and suffering when calculating your settlement after an accident? Absolutely. However, many insurance carriers use underhanded tactics to dispute or downplay your claim. They may argue that your symptoms stem from a prior condition or that you are either lying or at least trying to exaggerate the degree of your suffering.
Compensation for pain and suffering ties in directly to your medical condition. As you work toward recovery, your medical reports will provide valuable evidence that can be used to build your claim. As your medical treatment continues, be open with your doctors about all symptoms. You should never exaggerate your pain complaints, but it is important that you are honest about the degree of your pain and difficulties. Many people tell their doctor that they are okay when the truth is the pain is far worse than the patient reports. Doctors cannot properly diagnose and treat you without full information about all symptoms. Further, medical records tracking your recovery will benefit your car accident injury case if they properly report the true extent of your pain and medical problems. Thus, always let doctors know the true extent of your pain and limitations.
A skilled and aggressive car accident lawyer can help you to collect maximum compensation for your pain and suffering. We know how to analyze medical records and present the most compelling medical evidence. We also remain in touch with jury results throughout North Carolina, and we know what a jury likely will award you following a successful trial. Thus, insurance adjusters cannot trick us into accepting unfair settlement offers.
An experienced injury lawyer also validates your threat of bringing the at-fault driver to trial. You will collect a higher settlement if the insurer believes you will take your case to trial if necessary. Most cases settle out of court, with no suit filings or court involvement. However, to make the insurance company pay a settlement that reflects what you would win on a GOOD day in court, they must believe that you are ready and willing to go to trial.
Calculating Compensation for Pain and Suffering
As noted above, the claim for pain and suffering allows the accident victim to collect money for having to endure physical injuries, the fear of surgeries or invasive medical care, the pain associated with injuries and attendant medical care, the mental anguish that comes from severe pain and sleep loss, depression arising from severe pain and ongoing physical disability, the emotional impact of having to live with scars or other disfigurements, the anxiety that occurs when we remain out of work for a prolonged time due to medical problems, and the emotional loss that occurs when we are sidelined and have to miss vacations, family occasions and life in general. Obviously, this is a rather vague claim, and it is difficult to place value on these claims. Insurance companies know this, and they systematically undervalue these claims and offer unfair amounts to unrepresented accident victims.
There is NO FORMULA for determining the value of a claim for pain and suffering. In fact, here is the North Carolina Pattern Instruction which judges read to juries in all negligence cases to explain how the jury should calculate the victim’s claim for pain and suffering:
Damages for personal injury also include fair compensation for the actual [past] [present] [future] physical pain and mental suffering experienced by the plaintiff as a proximate result of the negligence of the defendant. There is no fixed formula for placing a value on physical pain and mental suffering. You will determine what is fair compensation by applying logic and common sense to the evidence.
Since juries have very little guidance from the Court, these claims remain very vague and are never calculated by any formula. Our law firm values these claims by researching what juries in similar venues/counties are awarding to victims with similar injuries and who have similar medical care, similar medical expenses, and similar symptoms. We then push the insurance company to pay the FULL value of your claim for pain and suffering.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Collect Pain and Suffering Damages?
Compensation for pain and suffering may vary widely. As personal injury lawyer and former insurance adjuster Carl Nagle can attest, working with a skilled attorney is the number one step that can help you maximize your settlement.
Your personal injury lawyer will:
- Examine your case and evaluate its worth based on actual jury verdicts and reported settlements of prior similar cases
- Carefully analyze all medical records and present your medical evidence in a powerful, compelling way
- Listen carefully to your story and stand ready to show insurance adjusters how injuries impacted your health and quality of life
- Advocate for your interests throughout your case
- Secure medical opinions from your doctors or from outside experts to show that your injuries may be permanent, and to show that you likely will experience lasting or permanent pain and suffering
- Present your case coupled with a solid threat of litigation – if the insurance carrier refuses to offer full compensation, we go to trial and now the insurance company pays you PLUS they pay all legal fees for the lawyers who defend the at-fault driver PLUS they pay 8% interest on your verdict PLUS they pay other court costs and evidentiary expenses
- Represent you in the courtroom if your case goes to trial
- Negotiate discounts on unpaid medical bills and on any health insurance reimbursement liens against your personal injury settlement – – these efforts reduce claims against your injury-claim proceeds and increase your net tax-free payment at the end of your NC personal injury case
Call Nagle & Associates Personal Injury Trial Lawyers for an Accident Case Evaluation
Did you suffer a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident in North Carolina? Call Nagle & Associates Personal Injury Trial Lawyers. Our firm only handles roadway accident cases and we offer a free legal consultation to all crash victims. If you need legal representation, we offer a reduced legal fee of 25% of the settlement (most firms charge 33/3%), there are no fees unless AND until we collect money for you, and we can come to meet with you at your home if this helps to get your case started. Even if you choose to handle your case without a lawyer, our free consultation will help you understand how to speak safely with insurance adjusters, and how to protect and enforce your legal rights.
Call (866) 631-2228 or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated North Carolina personal injury attorney.