In most car accidents where an injured party makes a claim or files a lawsuit, the plaintiff will attempt to recover their out of pocket costs and pain and suffering. Out of pocket costs, such as medical bills and prescriptions are usually quite easy to prove. But pain and suffering is harder to prove and are even more difficult if the accident and injuries were minor.
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Before you decide to pursue a car accident claim, you should think about how serious the injury is that was caused by the crash, when you consider the time and effort you will need to make a claim. Dealing with an auto insurance company can be time-consuming, especially if the other driver’s insurance carrier becomes difficult.
Determining Your Pain and Suffering
In a minor accident, figuring out what your pain and suffering is worth could be the key factor in determining if you should file a claim or lawsuit.
Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional distress you have from an accident and the injuries it caused. For example, if you were seriously burned in a car accident, you would probably be entitled to a lot of compensation for your pain and suffering, the cost of the treatment, and limitations that are imposed on your life. You also would get money for the limitations and stress that are associated with being disfigured or scarred.
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But it is another matter when you are talking about a relatively minor injury.
Pain and Suffering for Minor Injuries in No-Fault States
Most states have a fault-based system for car accident liability. If the person who caused the accident is found negligent, their insurance company is responsible for the injuries and damages caused by the accident.
But some states have a no-fault system. This means you cannot make a claim and get compensation for your pain and suffering unless the costs are above a certain amount. States with a no-fault system include FL, HI, MA, MN, NJ, NY, PA, UT and ND.
When an insurance company calculates your pain and suffering, they will look at how severe and permanent your injuries are. For example, you would be entitled to more pain and suffering compensation if you broke your leg rather than just bruised it. The more serious and permanent the injury, the more pain and suffering you will have.
Most insurance companies will multiply the amount of your medical bills by a number from 1-5 to determine your pain and suffering. The more serious your injuries, the higher the multiplier will be. You and your personal injury attorney must exercise your best judgment to estimate your pain and suffering.
If you cannot resolve the claim with the other driver’s insurance company, you will need to file a lawsuit. Whether this is worth it in your case will depend on many factors. Litigation takes time, is expensive and can be very stressful. Before you file a lawsuit, you should talk to your personal injury attorney about whether the case is worth it. Your attorney probably works on a contingency fee basis, so he will not get paid on the case unless you do. He will not take a case that does not have a chance of substantial compensation.
Of course, if you have thousands of dollars of medical bills and your life has been seriously affected by the accident, it might be worth filing a lawsuit.
In the end, wrestling with a difficult attorney or insurance company can be time-consuming and frustrating. Attorneys who deal with car accident cases handle these situations all the time. They usually know when a case is worth pursuing and when it is not. The best course of action is to talk to an experienced car accident attorney in a free consultation. The attorney will review your case and tell you if he thinks it is worth pursuing.
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