Calculating Virginia Personal Injury Compensation: A Guide to Pain and Suffering in Virginia
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If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover for your personal injuries 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 as well as calculable bodily injury.
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. They 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.
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.
What is Pain and Suffering in Virginia?
In Virginia, you can ask a jury or judge (in the case of a bench trial) to compensate you for non-economic damages, which include damages as the result of:
- Any bodily injuries he sustained and their effect on his health according to their degree and probable duration
- Any physical pain and mental anguish he suffered in the past and any that he may be reasonably expected to suffer in the future
- 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
(Virginia Model Jury Instruction 9.000)
The items listed above make up the “elements” of pain and suffering 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.
How can I prove my pain and suffering?
To help prove pain and suffering 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. You can make your own journal or diary with a notebook or you can download our “Pain and Suffering Journal” Pain and suffering journal here.
Well documented examples of pain and suffering 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.
- Visual evidence of harm is often very effective in legitimizing an injury claim. 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.
- Videos are also very helpful. 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 case.
- 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.
- If you are having trouble sleeping, document that whenever it happens.
- Record any inconvenience the accident has caused. Examples of this include going to doctor and therapy appointments, 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.
- 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.
Improve your chances for a good personal injury settlement
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can significantly improve your chances for getting a reasonable offer from the insurance company. Your Virginia personal injury attorney can help you tell the story of how your life has changed since the accident. 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, 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. 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 has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
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.
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