Accident victims commonly suffer from a whole range of complications after sustaining a personal injury that was not their fault. These include the physical injuries themselves, mental distress caused by their injuries and the events of the accident, a painful recovery period, physical complications and disabilities, and disfiguration.
The mental, physical, and financial damages of these complications far exceed the simple economic damages caused by the cost of medical treatment. That is why your personal injury lawyer can fight for you to be awarded pain and suffering damages and mental pain damages that take these factors into account.
If you are an accident victim who has suffered an injury due to no fault of your own, our law firm can help you recover compensation for your pain and suffering. The process starts with a free consultation, where we discuss the details of your personal injury case under no obligation and completely covered by the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship.
To find out more about how a personal injury lawyer from our firm can help you maximize your compensation, call us today at 713-535-9319.
The Types of Damages Available from Personal Injury Cases
When you make a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation across a number of categories. Which of these apply to you will depend on the specifics of your accident. Generally speaking, the more severely they apply, the higher your maximum amount of compensation is likely to be.
Texas personal injury damages include:
- The cost of medical bills;
- Property damage;
- Lost wages due to time off work recovering from injuries;
- Special damages – these include the additional out-of-pocket costs of childcare or transport that would have been unnecessary if the accident had not occurred;
- Loss of earning potential;
- Wrongful death and loss of consortium;
- Mental anguish; and
- Pain and suffering.
The following sections will focus on the last item in the list, explaining what pain and suffering damages are, how to prove them, and how compensation for them is calculated.
What Constitutes Physical Pain and Suffering Damages?
Pain and suffering damages take into account the physical pain and damage caused by the entire process of a personal injury.
Generally speaking, the level of pain and the length of an injured party’s recovery process constitutes pain and suffering in legal terms. They also consider changes to the life of the injured party going forward.
In Texas, pain and suffering damages only apply to physical pain, not emotional distress and mental pain. However, you will be able to seek compensation for both of these types of damages at the same time during a personal injury lawsuit, allowing you financial justice for both physical and mental pain.
What are Mental Anguish Damages?
Similar to pain and suffering, these damages give compensation for emotional anguish instead of physical injuries.
Unfortunately, as Texas law keeps these two categories separate, proving pain in the emotional category can often be more difficult from a legal perspective. This is because, unlike photographs of injuries or x-rays from medical records, it is more difficult to demonstrate emotional pain and identify its source in a fixed way.
What Types of Emotional Suffering May Result in Compensation?
Just because physical and emotional pain are divided into two categories, that does not mean that you should give up hope of receiving compensation for both. If you choose the right personal injury law firm to represent you, they will fight their hardest for you to be reimbursed for both.
Emotional suffering refers to the following categories:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Sexual dysfunction;
- Loss of self-esteem, enjoyment in life, or associated problems; and
- Night terrors, insomnia, or other sleep disorders.
This is a necessarily non-exhaustive list, as everybody is mentally impacted by their accidents differently. The best way to find out what you could be owed in your personal injury claim is to get in touch with our legal team for a free case evaluation.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering
The best way to prove pain and suffering will depend on the specifics of your case.
In order to receive fair compensation, injury attorneys need to present evidence of the victim’s pain. This can include:
- Hard evidence of the victim’s pain;
- Self-evident sources of pain, such as severe burns or permanent injuries; and
- Witness statements.
We will discuss these various proofs of pain and suffering in the following sections.
Hard Evidence of Pain and Suffering
While pain and suffering may be a largely subjective category, you and your lawyer can gather evidence that helps to prove pain.
Evidence items of this type include:
- Photographs of the physically injured person, both as soon as it is safe to do so after the accident and at every significant step of the recovery process;
- Documentation from the professionals involved in medical treatment, including medical bills, diagnoses, and any other official paperwork; and
- Incident reports from first responders, including the police, ambulance crew, or fire service.
The best proof for pain and suffering will vary between each individual personal injury lawsuit. If in doubt, retain and document everything. Your lawyer will also be able to guide you through the process of collecting evidence.
Self-Evident Evidence of Pain and Suffering
When it comes to pain and suffering damages, most of the time an injury itself is not sufficient proof.
However, if you pick an experienced attorney from a reputable law firm, they will have the experience, precedent knowledge, and persuasive skills needed to turn self-evident injuries into evidence that speaks for itself.
For example, if you have suffered a broken back, severe scalding, or even lost a limb as a result of your accident, a good lawyer will be able to use persuasion to turn this into evidence of pain and suffering.
Witness Statements for Pain and Suffering
Witness statements can be powerful pieces of evidence for pain and suffering cases.
As usual, the witnesses available will vary depending on the specifics of your situation. However, testimony from the following sorts of groups can be a great help when you choose to pursue compensation:
- Family, friends, co-workers, or others who witnessed the accident
- Spouses, family, neighbors, or friends who have witnessed a change in your behavior or daily habits due to pain
Due to the potential importance of witness statements in pain and suffering claims, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you think somebody could be a helpful witness, make sure you collect as many contact details from them as they are willing to give.
The Importance of Previous Medical Records
One thing that an insurance company will commonly try when it comes to pain and suffering claims is attempting to pass your pain off as resulting from a pre-existing condition.
There is one effective way to deal with claims of this nature. Contact your healthcare provider and get ahold of your medical records. Armed with these, your lawyer will have the best chance of ensuring your pain and suffering is not passed off as a pre-existing condition.
Time is of the Essence when Collecting Proof
It is important that you act fast when collecting proof of your pain and suffering.
It is easy for important evidence to be lost over time. Security footage, artifacts from the scene, and other similar pieces of evidence are not guaranteed to be recoverable forever. Similarly, eyewitnesses may become uncontactable over time.
You are also likely to not be the only party involved in collecting evidence. Any insurance company involved will likely have their own lawyers and insurance adjuster teams on the case in order to lower the amount they need to pay out for your insurance claim.
The same is true if your accident was due to somebody else’s negligence. Generally speaking, all other parties involved will be seeking evidence to discredit your claim. It can pay to get there before them, even if it simply gives your attorney more time to build the most solid case possible.
How to Deal with Insurance Companies
We just mentioned that insurance companies will be attempting to devalue your claim where possible. This is because it is in their best interest to protect their bottom line, and they do this by attempting to pay out as little compensation as possible in each case.
Do not be fooled – insurance companies are for-profit enterprises, no matter how good their customer service may be. Insurance companies commonly try to devalue claims by doing the following:
- Attempting to make you divulge unnecessary information;
- Getting you to agree to a recorded interview; and
- Making you sign documents.
You should never do any of these. Any interaction with an insurance company should only give the minimum amount of information possible. It is best that you speak to your lawyer before any such interaction.
Considerations for Future Pain are Possible
When calculating damages for pain and suffering and the compensation you could receive because of it, it is not only the past that is taken into account.
If you have yet to reach maximum medical improvement, you may have a long and painful process still ahead of you. You may also have sustained an injury or disability that will leave you with lifelong pain, or it may be necessary for you to have regular painful surgeries.
If you choose the right lawyer to undertake your legal services, they will ensure they take these into account when calculating a reasonable amount of compensation for your pain and suffering case.
How is Compensation for Pain and Suffering Calculated?
When calculating pain and suffering compensation, there are two categories to consider: economic damages and non-economic damages. We will explain both of these in the following sections.
However, it is important to remember that there is no exact science used to calculate pain and suffering. Your case may differ according to negotiations with insurers, legal precedents, or other variables.
Economic damages in a pain and suffering case are quite easy to calculate. These look at the cold, hard figures involved in the personal injury case.
This includes things such as:
- The medical costs already incurred;
- The estimated cost of future medical expenses as a result of the injury;
- Lost wages due to time forcibly spent off work due to the recovery process;
- Loss of future earning potential; and
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as transport or childcare costs that were only necessary due to the accident.
When all of these things have been added together, the resulting total will be your economic damages. You should be sure to retain proof of any costs your injury incurs, in order to provide proof for this process.
Determining non-economic damages is the part of the process where things become more subjective. Depending on the severity of your injury in Texas, you will usually be assigned a number between one and five.
One will be assigned for the least severe injuries, and five for the most severe. The total that was calculated for your financial damages will then be multiplied by this number, in a method known as the multiplier method.
The resulting total from this calculation using the multiplier method will then be used as the basis for your pain and suffering compensation.
How Long do You Have to Claim for Compensation in Texas?
In Texas, you only have two years from the exact date of your accident in which to file a claim for compensation. This period is known as the statute of limitations.
However, even within this timeframe, the more time that passes, the less likely you are to maximize your compensation. For the best chances of financial justice, you should arrange a free consultation as soon as possible after your injury occurs.
We Work on a Contingency Basis
Unfortunately, there is a mistaken belief in America that good legal representation is only available to those who can afford it. This could not be further from the truth.
Here at Abraham Watkins, we are committed to ensuring everyone can afford the justice they deserve. That is why all of our accident and injury work takes place on a no-win-no-fee basis.
You will not pay a single cent if your case is unsuccessful. If it is successful, your fees will be subtracted as a percentage of your final settlement. There are no hidden fees, upfront costs, or nasty surprises.
Speak to a Texas Accident Injury Lawyer today
If you have been involved in an accident in the past two years that left you with pain and suffering, you could be entitled to compensation.
To find out how our team of experienced lawyers could help maximize this compensation, get in touch today for a free consultation. We will evaluate your case and provide information at no obligation, in an environment completely covered by the attorney-client confidential relationship.
Our lawyer team has over 70 years of experience helping people just like you to win their maximum compensation. Call us today at 713-535-9319 to begin your journey toward financial justice.