Calculating Virginia Personal Injury Compensation: A Guide to Pain and Suffering in Virginia
If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover for your personal injuries, as well as pain and suffering damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company or “liability carrier.” However, before you can collect compensation from the liability carrier, you must prove that the other party, or “defendant,” was at fault in the accident. Once you have established that the other driver was at fault, next comes proving your financial losses. In the legal world, these losses are called “damages.” There are several different types of damages, you should know about. These damages include both pain and suffering damages as well as bodily injury.
Economic Losses: Physical Pain
In Virginia, when someone is injured in a car accident, or slip and fall, or from a defective product, etc., Virginia law allows the injured person to receive both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are usually pretty easy to calculate. Examples of an economic damage include your medical bills, lost wages, potential future medical expenses, as well as anticipated future lost earning capacity. If your case goes to trial, presenting economic damages to a jury is fairly straight forward. Usually, jurors can understand the numbers associated with medical bills and lost wages. Generally, we find that juries understand these types of losses, but understanding pain and suffering is more difficult.
While juries typically understand the losses involved with medical bills and lost wages, calculating non-economic damages, or pain and suffering often presents a substantial problem for those deciding the verdict amount.
Pain and Suffering Damages or Non Economic Damages
In Virginia, you can ask a jury or judge (in the case of a bench trial) to compensate you for non-economic or pain and suffering damages, which include damages as the result of:
- Any bodily injuries sustained and their effect on the victim’s health according to their degree and probable duration (evidenced by medical expenses and other similar evidence)
- Any physical pain and mental anguish or emotional distress suffered in the past and any future pain that you may be reasonably expected to suffer (future includes chronic pain and emotional distress)
- Any disfigurement or deformity and any associated humiliation or embarrassment
- Any inconvenience caused in the past and any that probably will be caused in the future as well as any loss of enjoyment of life and diminished quality of life
(Virginia Model Jury Instruction 9.000 on damages including pain and suffering) (Some states allow for loss of consortium, however, Virginia does not allow for such pain and suffering award)
The items listed above make up the “elements” of pain and suffering damages in Virginia. So, in this sense, pain and suffering basically amounts to giving the injured person money for having to deal with the injury and all the suffering or inconvenience related to the accident. For instance, your medical bills may be covered in economic damages. But payment of your medical bills doesn’t compensate you for the fact that you can’t play ball with your children any more. That is pain and suffering.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages?
To help prove pain and suffering damages for your personal injury claim, it is important that you try to document evidence as much as possible for both. Keeping a journal of how your accident is affecting you is very important, as the information in the journal can help prove your claim for pain and suffering. You can make your own journal or diary with a notebook or you can download our “Pain Journal” Pain and suffering journal here.
Click here Pain and suffering journal to download your our firm’s free “Pain and Suffering Journal”
Well documented examples of pain and suffering damages will help bring credibility to your claim. Things that you might document include:
- Keep a pain and suffering journal. Make a daily record of how you are feeling and how your healing is progressing. You might include examples such as the appearance of bruises, stiffness, soreness, as well as other discomfort, as they offer concrete examples of pain and suffering.
- Visual evidence of harm is often very effective in legitimizing an injury claim, including your pain and suffering. You may think about taking a series of photos documenting how long the healing process is taking. This may help to give the insurance company an idea of how extensive your injuries are and help them determine a fair value for your claim, including your pain and suffering.
- Videos are also very helpful in proving the amount of pain and suffering in a personal injury case. Videos and/or photos that show your activity level just prior to the accident can be very helpful as well. If your injuries are severe, video footage of you participating in physical therapy or occupational therapy may be beneficial to your personal injury case, including your pain and suffering damages.
- If you go back to work and find that your injuries make it difficult for you to perform your job, be certain to document what tasks are difficult and the area of the body those tasks affect. Also document the days you missed from work. This is all very helping in proving your pain and suffering.
- If you are having trouble sleeping, document that whenever it happens to help prove pain and suffering.
- Record any inconvenience the accident has caused, as this is also a part of pain and suffering. Examples of this include going to doctor and therapy appointments (from any physician or mental health professionals, taking numerous medications, having to work at light duty or accommodated employment, not being able to drive for a while, not being able to care for your children at the same level as before, etc. This documentation may be helpful in proving your pain and suffering.
- Explanations from friends, family members, and co-workers about your pain and suffering are also helpful. Family and friends may talk about how you have struggled since the accident. Co-workers can explain how the injury has affected your work. All of this evidence may be helpful in proving your pain and suffering damages.
Physical Pain and Suffering/Emotional Pain and Suffering
Emotional pain and suffering also plays a large role in your personal injury claim. Many times, car accident victims will suffer from anxiety, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), depression, mental anguish, emotional distress and other emotional injuries after an accident. Emotional distress following a car accident is no joke and can cause years of problems for the accident victim if not addressed. Making certain that your settlement will include a sufficient recovery for both physical and emotional pain and suffering (not just physical pain and suffering) is important in calculating pain and suffering. It is also absolutely necessary if you want a fair settlement from the insurance company.
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering?
So, how do you calculate pain and suffering? Unfortunately, there is no accurate pain and suffering calculator that will magically tell you how much you should get in a personal injury settlement for physical and emotional trauma. Having evidence gathered in the above outlined ways will certainly help paint a picture for insurance companies about your physical and emotional pain and suffering.
To ensure that you obtain a sufficient amount of money for your pain and suffering settlement, it is important to consult with a team of experienced personal injury lawyers that can serve as your pain and suffering calculator. Accident victims find that talking with an attorney who has experience with personal injury helps in proving pain and suffering and improves their chances to recover compensation because experienced attorneys know how much compensation a similar personal injury claim would bring. For instance, experienced injury lawyers will know the typical compensation for pain and suffering and physical injuries for claims with types of injuries similar to yours.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is better than a pain and suffering calculator and can significantly improve your chances for getting a reasonable offer from the insurance company, including a pain and suffering settlement. Your Virginia personal injury attorney can help you tell the story of how your life has changed since the accident to tell the story of the extent of your pain and suffering. If your case goes to trial, telling a compelling story is an absolute MUST. The jury will need a story to relate to and sympathize with your pain and suffering.
When Does an Insurance Company Compensate for Pain and Suffering?
Some insurance companies recognize that people who are injured in a car accident deserve something for their pain and suffering, and inconvenience. Usually, the amount the insurance company offers at first is very low. However, with representation from an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer, this number can often be increased to a more appropriate sum and include compensation for pain and suffering. Read our article about getting full value for your personal injury case.
If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation, including pain and suffering, they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
Talk To an Experienced Virginia Car Accident Attorney About Pain and Suffering
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. To learn more about recovering these damages, contact a personal injury attorney today. They can help you understand the process and gather the evidence you need to support your personal injury claim. Don’t wait to get the compensation you deserve.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make certain that you are fairly compensated for everything you deserve, including your pain and suffering claim. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we’re here to help guide you through the process and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to make sure you are being compensated fairly for your pain and suffering. We’ll answer all your questions and help you decide if hiring a lawyer is the best option for you.
When another driver is responsible for causing your injuries in a car crash, the Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. The experienced, certified car accident attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm will help you prove the other driver caused your injuries. DON’T GET HURT TWICE!! The Ritchie Law Firm will make them pay for their recklessness. We have helped thousands of injured people get the bodily injury and pain and suffering money they deserve.
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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.