10 Tips for Determining Pain and Suffering Damages
Accidents are expensive. The cost in terms of damage to vehicles, medical treatment, lost wages and other monetary expenses runs into the billions of dollars every year in this country. The numbers can be quoted with a great degree of accuracy. The cost of those accidents in terms of the pain and suffering caused to the victims, however, is far more difficult to assess. Many people wonder, and rightly so, when pain and suffering claims go to an insurance company, or to a jury, who decides what is fair compensation for pain and suffering claims in Oregon, and how do they reach that decision?
Every personal injury case is different.
Two people could suffer an almost identical injury (or as close as possible for the purposes of this article), but one of those people may suffer a great deal more than the other. If that can be proven to a reasonable extent, the person suffering more may get a larger award. On the other hand, one may have better proof—an eye witness, a specialist’s report, better documentation—which will increase their chances of receiving a higher settlement for their pain and suffering. No two cases are alike, despite the similarity of injuries.
Things insurance companies and juries consider to determine the value of a pain and suffering claim in Oregon:
When a pain and suffering claim is put before a jury, or presented to an insurance company, they consider many things. So what are the factors that go into determining the worth of a pain and suffering claim? Among other things, they’ll look at:
- Is the witness credible?
- Were the injured person’s actions after the accident consistent with those of someone in pain? If someone putting in a large claim for a back injury is seen taking part in a bungee jump, their claim may suffer!
- Were there any pre-existing injuries? This will not rule out a claim, but will be taken into consideration.
- Was the injured party forced to change their day to day routine, or could they continue their normal activities? What do they do for a living?
- What is the injured person’s tolerance for pain under normal circumstances? Are they married and has their family life been affected by the injury?
- How good is their lawyer at presenting their case? This is critical in a personal injury claim for pain and suffering.
Other significant factors of the personal injury case:
In the real world, no two people are truly the same. As such, no scientific formula has ever been established to determine the worth of a pain and suffering claim. And there are other factors to be taken into consideration as well.
- Job and income might be considered. A jury might see a low income person as more deserving of a higher award than a successful business man who makes $245,000 per year, or they might think a construction worker is the hardest working and consider him to be in the greatest need. A personal injury attorney needs to adapt each case to his client’s own situation.
- The age of the victim is often put forward as a reason for giving a higher reward, but again, this can vary. For example, an insurance company may claim that an elderly person is less deserving of a higher reward because they’ve reached retirement age and may have money saved up. The attorney would argue that because the elderly are generally more frail, they would have suffered more and are therefore deserving of a larger claim. On the other hand, an insurance company may argue that a young housewife is more likely to recover quickly, will suffer less and therefore deserves a smaller settlement. The attorney will argue that the same housewife will have to endure her pain while trying to lift small children, do housework, and that she will have to suffer all this for a much longer length of time than an elderly person would.
- Lifestyles will be considered. Juries tend to look more favorably on someone who has to take a bus to work, or who has a difficult job, or who simply needs the money the most, and while these factors maybe should play no part in determining the value of pain and suffering claims, they often do.
- The attorney is going to make a difference. Without question, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side will have a major impact on the resolution of your claim. They deal with insurance companies and juries every day of the week, and know how to present your case in such a way as to achieve the greatest effect.
In addition to all the above, the injured person will want to be able to present their claim in a believable manner if they go before a jury. Someone who seems nervous or unsure of their own claim could be in danger of having a perfectly valid pain and suffering claim greatly diminished if the jury doesn’t believe their story. Once again, it’s up to the experienced Portland personal injury attorney to present your case in the most favorable light, and to guide you through the process to get the most money available for your pain and suffering claim in Oregon.