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Understanding Damages for Suffering and Pain

Protecting Your Rights When Working with Your Insurer after a Car Accident

When you have been hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s wrongful act, you will have two types of damages (financial compensation) available to you through the legal system: special damages and general damages. Special damages are losses that can be measured in specific dollars, such as medical expenses or lost wages. General damages, however, refer to those losses for which a clear dollar value is not available. One type of general damage is for “pain and suffering.”

Because of the difficulty in putting a specific dollar value on pain and suffering, lawyers and juries tend to use a number of factors as barometers to assess damages for pain and suffering, including:

  • The extent to which you need medication for pain—As a general rule, the stronger the medication, the greater the dosage, and the longer you need medication for inflammation, discomfort or pain, the more likely a jury will award more damages for pain and suffering.
  • The length of time it takes you to recover—Juries also tend to associate the length of recovery with the amount of pain and suffering you have experienced. The longer it takes you to get well, the greater your pain and suffering.
  • Your medical record—It’s extremely important that you visit your doctor as often as necessary, and that you make certain your doctor notes all your medical conditions in the record. If you experience pain, make certain you tell your doctor and that your doctor documents it in your file. If your doctor hasn’t taken pictures of your injuries, take some yourself, particularly if you have swelling, discoloration or open wounds. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for another appointment. Don’t let the doctor tell you when you need to be seen. Tell them when you are hurting.
  • Your own personal log—Keeping a diary can be extremely helpful in securing damages for pain and suffering. You should note anything related to your injuries—were you unable to go to work? Did you have difficulty sleeping? Were there ordinary tasks that you could not complete?

In the final analysis, damages for pain and suffering are highly subjective and at the discretion of the jury. However, you can greatly enhance the likelihood of a damage award for pain and suffering by following the steps above.

Contact Howard D. Popper, P.C., P.C.

Contact us online or call our office at 973-993-8787 to set up a free initial consultation. We have office locations in Morristown and Newton, but will visit you in your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You will not incur legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.