After an accident, there are a few different types of damages available to the injured party. One of these types of damages is called “pain and suffering.” This is the legal term for physical and emotional stress or trauma caused by the accident.
Almost any car accident is stressful. The shock to our daily lives can very easily lead to both physical and mental pain. In some cases, injuries don’t show up for weeks or months after an accident occurred. In California, there are three main different types of damages: special (economic), general (non-economic), and punitive. “Pain and suffering” damages are part of the general, or non-economic category.
What are general damages in a car accident?
Many of our clients ask questions like “can I sue for pain and suffering?” and “does pain and suffering include medical bills?” Generally speaking, yes, you can receive compensation for pain and suffering, but not always. If you’re insured and not at fault, then pain and suffering damages are likely available to you. But how you get there requires a bit of explanation of the different types of damages in a car accident first.
Special or Economic Damages are typically hard costs that are easily determined. This includes medical bills, lost wages from work, travel costs associated with getting to the doctor, etc. These are usually easy to calculate because they’re based on an invoice, bill, or estimate.
Punitive Damages are designed to deter or punish a defendant from acting a certain way. They aren’t considered damages for compensation. In the context of a car accident, punitive damages will usually only apply in extreme situations like drunk driving.
General or Non-Economic Damages are where pain and suffering fall. This type of damages is to compensate the injured victim for physical and mental pain. Because each and every case and individual is different, General Damages are much more difficult to calculate. Pain and suffering is actually just one type of general damage. Other examples include:
- Inability to do daily activities (exercise, drive, shop, get groceries, clean, etc.)
- Loss of companionship or spousal support
- Loss of enjoyment of life and activities
- Stress, anxiety, depression
These are only some examples that fall under the umbrella that is general damages. Depending on the extent of the injuries and symptoms, pain and suffering may include much more.
What is included in pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is broken down into two types: physical and mental pain and anguish. It’s likely that our bodies won’t just be physically injured after a car accident, but that there can be a mental toll from the stress and trauma as well.
Physical pain and suffering is the discomfort experienced by the victim as a result of the physical injuries. This includes pain and suffering already endured as well as that in the future as a result of the accident.
Mental pain and suffering is a consequence of the physical injuries sustained by the victim. This is a result of the pain and trauma of the accident. Examples of mental pain and suffering include:
- Great difficulty
More severe mental pain and suffering can include severe depression, mood swings, appetite changes, reduced energy, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both physical and mental pain and suffering include past and future effects that are related to the car accident.
My name is Daniel Hanecak and I am a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer. I know from personal experience how stressful and time consuming a car accident can be. When you call Hanecak Law Inc., you will speak with me directly. It is my aim to provide you with free and friendly advice. Call me today at (858) 206-4326 for a free case evaluation.
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