“Pain and suffering” is one of the least concrete things in the law. Many things have firm lines drawn with clear rules – and so many others have shaky guidelines and change from case to case. Pain and suffering is the latter type, to an even higher degree. Pain and suffering damages are one of the most individualized things in any case, but we can give you some guidelines for how they are calculated in a car accident lawsuit.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you should consider talking to a personal injury attorney about your case. The Queenan Law Firm can help you understand how much your car accident case may be worth and how you can best get compensation.
Noneconomic Damages in Texas
“Damages” is the legal name for the awards a victim receives in a car accident lawsuit or settlement. Damages are one of the main four elements of proving someone else’s negligence in a personal injury case. This means that if you cannot prove damages in court, you cannot even win a lawsuit – they are an integral part to any injury suit.
Damages can cover many different things. Ultimately, any negative effects you suffer because of an accident are part of “damages.” That means “damages” include the physical damage your car suffers, the cost of medical expenses, and even lost wages if you miss work because of your injury.
Any financial consequences are called “economic damages,” since they deal with paying you back, monetarily, for problems. These are alternatively called “compensatory damages,” because they compensate you for your losses.
Though money can set many things right, it cannot replace everything. These irreplaceable consequences of an accident are called “noneconomic damages.” When you suffer from pain after an injury, no amount of money can ever set that pain right again or erase the mental suffering from your memory. Similarly, the loss of a loved one cannot be compensated by money, and will not disappear after a financial reward.
Many states set a maximum, called a “cap,” on how much you can receive in noneconomic damages. In Texas, personal injury victims are lucky, because there is no legal limit on noneconomic damages. That means that a court and a jury can award you whatever amount they think is fair, with no upper limit.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is one type of noneconomic damages, and since Texas has no cap on economic damages, it has no cap on pain and suffering. That means that a jury is allowed to award you as much money as they think is fair to try to compensate your pain and suffering.
To be clear, the jury – not the judge – decides how much your case is worth in a lawsuit. In a lawsuit, the jury is responsible for deciding facts, and the judge is responsible for deciding the law. That means that questions of how much things are worth is ultimately a fact the jury decides. Because jurors are just regular people, decisions can vary greatly from case-to-case or jury-to-jury.
There are no clear-cut guidelines as to what injuries are worth what amount. It is generally true that more severe injuries are worth more in pain and suffering damages than less severe injuries, but not always. Very severe injuries may be surprisingly easy to repair, which means that they may actually cause less pain than other injuries. Similarly, some less severe injuries like whiplash may cause prolonged pain that will last for the rest of your life, and might be worth more.
Since the name is “pain and suffering,” pain is only half of the consideration. The suffering aspect is often where high payouts can emerge. For instance, a brain injury might not cause much pain, since the brain itself does not have the nerve endings to feel much pain. Moreover, brain injuries often place victims in comas, and unconscious people do not feel their pain. Brain injuries are very severe, though, and victims of brain injury are affected for the rest of their life. This can completely change their personality, their ability to care for themselves, and the way they think. That kind of suffering is separate from the pain, and can lead to very high compensation.
Beyond this, there are really no guidelines or price tags attached to pain and suffering. The evidence that you are able to bring to court about how the injury feels, how it affects your life, and what changes you have had to make are really what determines, for a jury, how much to award you.
Dallas Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, take your case to experienced car accident injury attorneys. The Queenan Law Firm has decades of experience helping car accident victims get compensation for their pain and suffering in Dallas. For a free consultation, and to learn what your case could be worth, call today at (817) 476-1797.