Recovering from your pain and suffering after a Georgia car crash or other accident
What does my Macon car accident lawyer mean by “damages?”
If you have been injured in a car crash or other accident through the fault of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. A fundamental principle of law throughout this country is that a victim is entitled to full compensation for his or her injuries and damages suffered at the hands of a wrongdoer. Full compensation includes compensation for all harm, past, present, and prospective, legally caused by the wrongful conduct. Contact the Westlake Village injury lawyer for more information about the settlement of damages.
Typically, the victim of another’s negligent or wrongful act may recover an award of money damages for:
- Lost wages,
- Anticipated lost future wages or lost future earning capacity,
- Past medical expenses,
- Expected future medical expenses, and
- Pain and suffering.
What are pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering damages are sometimes called general damages or non-economic damages to distinguish them from the other items of damages, known as special damages, which are easier to measure with money. In many cases, pain and suffering damages are largest component of the total damages.
Pain and suffering are not the same thing. The loss of an arm causes physical pain. Looking out the window, seeing your son with a ball, and knowing that you will never be able to play with him again, is suffering. A better term is “mental anguish.”
Apprehension that an existing injury will lead to a future condition is also an element of suffering that demands compensation. The cancer victim, obsessed by the fear that the cancer will recur, or the person who has lost an eye and is consumed by the fear of losing the other eye, are obvious examples.
An individual who suffers serious physical injury also usually sustains psychological injury. If you have been injured by another’s negligent conduct, you may be able to recover compensation for (a) fright, shock or other emotional disturbance resulting from the bodily harm or from the conduct that caused it, and (b) further bodily harm resulting from the emotional disturbance.
Of course, money is all that you can obtain for your pain and suffering. This is almost never adequate compensation for the mental and physical injuries you have sustained. On the other hand you must never exaggerate or falsify your injuries. If discovered, the harm may be irreparable
How can my Macon personal injury attorney prove my pain and suffering?
Your attorney has a sworn duty to maximize your recovery. Part of this duty is to translate your pain and suffering into money. To perform this duty, your Macon personal injury lawyer must listen, really listen, to you, and to your friends, family, physicians, and witnesses. Your lawyer must prepare, shape and mold what he or she learns into a story that will gain the attention and empathy of the listener: an insurance adjuster, claims manager, judge or jury. It takes immense skill and sensitivity to prove damages for pain and suffering.
Here are some of the sources of evidence your Macon personal injury attorney may use to prove your pain and suffering to the insurance company or jury:
- Testimony from treating medical professionals (doctors, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists).
- Anesthesiologist’s and pain clinic’s records.
- Testimony from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers.
- Medical and hospital records.
- Photographs of your injuries before, during and after treatment.
- “Day in the life” video showing how your injury has affected your ability to do daily activities, like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, house and yard work, for example.
- Videotapes of your physical therapy sessions.
- X-rays and other scans showing your injury.
- Medical equipment and devices you are or were required to use because of your injury (orthopedic devices, artificial limbs, surgical screws, bolts, plates, catheters, etc.).
- Exhibiting your injuries.
- Your testimony. However, as mentioned below, your testimony about your own pain and suffering is almost never the best source of evidence.
Investigating and preparing the case for pain and suffering damages
If I am your Macon accident lawyer, I will begin proving your pain and suffering when you first sit down for your initial interview, if not before. In fact, I may ask you to fill out an information sheet containing not only your name, address, date of birth, etc., but also: (1) the name, address and telephone number of the person or persons who can best describe your damages; (2) a description of the incident; and (3) a description of the injuries and the disabilities it caused. As your Macon accident attorney, I want your subjective description of your pain and suffering and the impact of your injuries on your life.
Once you are in my office, I will listen carefully to what you say about yourself, the defendant, the incident that caused the injuries, your physical damages and mental anguish, and what you feel the future holds.
Your spouse or partner—a key pain and suffering witness
I will want interview your spouse or life partner very carefully. He or she is one of your key damage witnesses. You will not want to lose listener empathy by complaining about your injuries and anguish. It has been said, “the people juries like, win; people juries don’t like, lose.” Likeable plaintiffs get larger settlements and sympathetic plaintiffs get more for their pain and suffering than those who are obnoxious, aggressive or for whatever reason, unsympathetic. This is, of course, unfair, but this is the way the system works.
In most circumstances you must come across as a courageous survivor, not a complainer. After you have demonstrated courage by not complaining, your spouse or partner can tell the adjuster or jury about the pain and anguish you have endured. This can be done in great detail with eminently successful results without losing listener empathy. The jury or adjuster must like you and want to help (at least subconsciously). They may even think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Gathering the medical evidence
After your initial interview, I will write to all the hospitals where you have been treated and obtain your records. These records are usually full of information that will help prove pain and suffering. I will also write to your treating physicians and obtain their diagnosis and prognosis, along with an opinion that your injuries were caused by the incident in question. It is also important for me to obtain the treating physician’s opinion as to (1) whether there is a risk of your developing complications, (2) your physical and mental limitations, (3) whether future physical therapy or surgery is contemplated, (4) the side effects and risks of medications that are required, (5) whether future medical care or monitoring may be required.
Interviewing the witnesses
Next I will complete the investigation of the liability and damage aspects of the case. Either I or a trusted investigator will interview and obtain statements from all possible witnesses. Getting to the witnesses first tends to win them over to your side. Obtaining their statements early tends to lock them into a story favorable to you. Their statements will refresh their recollection later when their memory has become hazy due to the passage of time.
The following is a list of some of the witnesses I will wish to interview and obtain statements from:
- Police and investigating officers.
- Witnesses at the scene.
- Ambulance personnel.
- Emergency room physicians.
- Treating physicians.
- Your family members.
- Your coworkers.
- Your employer.
- Your neighbors and social friends.
- Any persons you have turned to for psychological counseling.
Investigating the defendant
Finally, as your slip and fall lawyers in tampa, I will want to find out as much as possible about the defendant. Your pain and suffering are worth a considerably higher verdict or settlement if the defendant can be perceived as bad, willful and clearly at fault. Was the defendant drunk or up to no good when this incident occurred? Is the defendant a corporation out to make money at the expense of the public? Is the defendant a physician more worried about making money than the well-being of his patients?
A Macon accident lawyer can help prove your pain and suffering
If you have experienced pain and suffering as a result of another’s negligence, don’t already have an attorney and would like my evaluation, please complete the short Case Evaluation Form on this page or contact my office.
Macon Georgia personal injury lawyer
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