When you have a personal injury case, one of the questions you want answered is how you will be compensated. A car accident causes not only economic loss, but physical and mental harm.
While medical bills can be easy to quantify, they often are only a small part of your personal injury claim. You deserve to also be compensated for intangible damages, but it can be hard to know what amount is reasonable to expect for things like pain and suffering. Your South Dakota personal injury attorney is trained to advance your interests and answer the question: how are pain and suffering damages determined?
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Often, it is best to describe pain and suffering through the use of examples. If your leg is broken, you will have medical bills to repair it. But in addition to that expense, the broken leg will hurt, affect your mobility, and make it difficult to participate in activities you once enjoyed. The physical pain of healing and the mental stress resulting from life changes are examples of pain and suffering that stem from your injury. If the pain and other effects of injury are likely to continue in the future, you are entitled to be compensated for that, too.
Suppose you are physically disfigured after a car accident. Even after your medical treatments are complete, the change in your appearance may have social and psychological effects. You may experience a breakdown of your interpersonal relationships and find it difficult to reintegrate into society exactly as you had before. Though your medical bills may be substantial, the emotional pain of disfigurement, physical pain experienced as your wounds heal, fear and worry about the future, and other lasting effects of being hurt can be even more serious.
Pain and suffering can stop you from returning to work and cause long-term conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, sleep disturbances and depression. You may attempt to manage these on your own, but sometimes you’ll need the assistance of your doctor, a psychologist, or counselor to return to your normal life. You are entitled to recover damages for anguish in the past and reasonably certain to be expected in the future as a result of your injury.
How Much Are Damages?
Pain and suffering damages usually are worth several times your financial or “special damages,” the amount you receive for medical costs, lost income, and other measurable financial losses. Insurance companies often make a general assumption that non-financial damages for things like pain and suffering are worth only about twice as much as the financial damages, but that formula usually short-changes the injured person. In cases handled by a skilled personal injury lawyer, the financial damages may turn out to be a small fraction of the total amount owed. Juries have considerable leeway to decide how much to allow in damages, but every verdict amount is subject to appeal. It is valuable to follow the guidance of a South Dakota personal injury attorney, who can offer an assessment of what your case could be worth in front of a jury or in settlement.
What If You Are Partly at Fault?
If through some carelessness of your own, you contributed to your injuries, the amount you can receive is reduced proportionately. For example, if you are partly at fault for a car accident, your damages will be adjusted appropriately, in accordance with South Dakota state law. Also, if you fail to mitigate your injuries, you can expect a smaller damage award. Mitigation means taking steps to minimize the effects of your injuries, instead of sitting back and allowing your injuries to get worse. For example, if you do not attend therapy sessions, visit doctors, or follow their orders, the defendant or his insurance company will insist you have not mitigated your losses.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
South Dakota personal injury attorneys are uniquely trained to represent you in a legal system that depends on state law and a vast catalog of past cases. They know the rules of damages and the practicalities of how to best preserve proof of damages. Contact us at 866-231-0914 to learn more about how pain and suffering damages are handled in South Dakota and in your individual circumstance.