A Survivor’s Guide: Compensation for Pain, Suffering, and Emotional Stress

There are many unfortunate situations where a person is the victim of someone else’s negligence, and thus must make a personal injury claim in order to receive appropriate compensation.

Often the incidents involve car accidents, dangerous worksites, defective products, or dangerous conditions on another’s property.  Many people assume that the only compensation they can receive is to reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses; however, not all losses are economic, and, in virtually every case involving physical or psychological injury, compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional stress is available and appropriate.

The amount of compensation for pain, suffering and emotional distress that can be recovered is based on the extent of the injury and how long the symptoms or conditions associated with the injury last.  There is a long list of possible physical or emotional injuries that could justify a person receiving added compensation for the unnecessary pain and suffering they endured because of another’s negligence.  Here are a few:

Emotional Scarring or Depression – Unfortunately, emotional injuries often stay with people longer than physical injuries do, and sometimes last a lifetime. Compensation for medical treatment or other expenses does not always cover all the losses in cases of extreme mental damage that might occur as a result of an unfortunate incident.

Psychological Trauma – Sometimes a distressing event leads to post-traumatic stress disorder that can manifest itself as actual, physical change inside the brain.  PTSD can take years to recover from and should be taken into account as part of the compensation a person recovers.

Personal limitations (both temporary and permanent) – Such limitations (for example, the inability to get up and down the stairs independently) can strain personal relationships with family and friends because of the added responsibilities to properly care for the injured.  For the injured person, being physically limited can lead to frustration, depression and loss of enjoyment of life.

Potential shortening of life – In some cases, physical injuries can cause the loss of years from one’s life.  This usually occurs in very serious accidents, but can also result from injuries like hip fractures in elderly people.  The loss of life expectancy deserves to be compensated.


Size of Settlement

The value of a personal injury case can be difficult to approximate until the client’s medical condition has stabilized and economic losses have been determined. But there are several questions that personal injury lawyers ask to help estimate the value of a case for trial as well as the reasonable settlement range:

  • How severe are the victim’s injuries?
  • Will the other party be found liable?
  • Does the other party have insurance?
  • What is the cost of medical treatment now and in the future?
  • How long is the recovery time?
  • What are the long-term consequences to the victim?
  • What are the income losses for the days missed at work?
  • What has been recovered in similar cases?
  • Many, many more questions like these are asked when determining compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional stress.

Have You Been in an Accident?

After an accident, the first thing to do is contact the police if necessary and then seek immediate medical treatment.  Once that is done, start writing down as many details as you can about what you remember about the incident. Pictures, contact info of witnesses, and other relevant evidence is of the utmost importance. The longer you wait, the less you’ll remember, so it’s important to do this as quickly as possible.

It’s not only important to write down what happened, but also document what occurs during the days following the unfortunate events. This includes dates of treatment appointments, physical symptoms, aches and pains, loss of sleep, or anything else that causes you discomfort or alarm.

Every correspondence with your insurance company should be recorded, in writing if possible, for detailed, accurate records that will help support recovery of the compensation you deserve.  Finally, make sure that you seek the guidance of an experienced and reputable personal injury lawyer before you proceed with your case, communicate with the responsible party’s insurance company or lawyer, or sign any documents from the responsible party’s representatives


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