Some people think that, just because they were hurt in an accident, they're going to win millions of dollars in court. They envision what they see on tv and in the movies. An accident victim walks into the courtroom wearing a neck brace and walks out a millionaire. The jury feels so bad for them that they award them millions of dollars in pain and suffering. In the real world, it doesn't happen this way. Rarely does an accident victim ever get this kind of money. In fact, less than 5% of all personal injury cases ever go to court in the first place. Your Texas personal injury attorney is going to make sure your expectations are realistic. They don't want to see you get your hopes up only to have them broken down the road.
That doesn't mean you won't be entitled to pain and suffering. If you experience serious injuries, there's a good chance you will get damages for pain and suffering. The first step is to call and schedule your free, initial consultation. Your lawyer will fight to get you the special damages you deserve so you can get back the enjoyment of life again.
What are the Typical Damages You Can Demand in a Texas Personal Injury Claim?
If you're injured in any sort of case, you'll likely be entitled to certain damages. The amount of damages in your personal injury claim will be commensurate with the seriousness of your injuries. If you only suffer whiplash, you can't expect to receive more than a couple of thousand dollars. If, on the other hand, you suffer a broken neck or end up paralyzed, your damages will be on the much higher end. The same thing is true for a traumatic brain injury.
Most personal injury lawyers in Texas will demand some or all the following in their clients' lawsuits based on the severity of injury:
- Medical bills – If you had to get medical care to tend to injuries suffered in your accident, the defendant should be held accountable. The defendant or their insurance company will have to compensate you for any out-of-pocket medical bills. They'll also have to pay for any future medical care you're going to need. If your private health insurance company paid your medical expenses, they'll expect to be reimbursed when you settle your case. In fact, many times, they'll place a lien on your lawsuit, so they're guaranteed payment.
- Loss of income – If you are out of work for any period of time, personal injury attorneys in Texas can demand lost wages. You'll have to submit timesheets or payroll records to prove that you missed this time. In addition to lost wages, you can ask that you be compensated for lost future income. If, as a result of your injuries, you can no longer do the same type of work as you did before the car accident, you can demand the difference. Your experienced attorney will take what you would have earned and deduct the amount you're earning after the accident. Whatever the difference is, they're going to demand that you be paid for that amount for each year until the age of 65.
- Property damage – If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, your injury lawyer can demand reimbursement. The same is true if you somehow have property damage in any other type of accident. The insurance adjuster should cover these things.
The types of damages listed above are all considered economic damages. They can be justified with receipts and proof of payment. There is another type of damages as well. These are called non-economic damages. The most common type of these non-economic damages is pain and suffering. They are considered special damages.
Pain and Suffering are Considered Non-Economic Damages
Pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages. This is because they aren't intended to compensate you for a particular bill or debt accrued as a result of your accident. They're based on something intangible. They are based on the emotional distress and physical anguish caused by the accident. These can be very hard to prove. Nobody can see your pain and suffering. They can't touch it or feel it. The only way to prove pain and suffering is to have somebody testify as to how much emotional pain and mental pain you're in. It all depends on the type of injury you suffer. You may experience loss of consortium or loss of enjoyment.
Personal injury lawyers in Texas tend to rely on medical experts to do this. They can take the stand and discuss how serious your injuries were. They can also explain how much pain is typically involved in a certain type of permanent injury or accident. For example, if you have soft tissue injuries, you may need multiple surgeries, it won't be hard to convince a jury that you suffered a lot of pain. The same is true for the mental anguish part. If your soft tissue injuries are so bad that you can no longer pick up your children or play with them, the jury will feel sympathy for you. As long as they can tie these severe injuries in with your accident, it won't be a far cry for them to decide that you're entitled to special compensation.
Why Do the Courts Award Pain and Suffering to Plaintiffs?
The courts don't award pain and suffering simply because they feel bad for accident victims. The law in Texas dictates that plaintiffs should be able to demand fair compensation for pain they've suffered. You can't always produce a receipt for a person's losses. Imagine that somebody is working construction and falls from a piece of scaffolding. They suffer neck injuries or back injuries and are told they'll never walk again. They're 31 years old with two small children. Prior to the fall, they were earning well over $100,000 per year including overtime. The worker's personal injury lawyer in Texas was able to prove that the scaffolding was made improperly and cracked. This is what caused the man to fall and suffer life-changing injuries. He now has to see the chiropractor or doctor once a week. He is suffering from anxiety and is entitled to an injury claim settlement.
The man in the above example can demand compensation for their client's lost wages. They can also demand compensation for about 34 years' worth of lost future income. There was no property damage to speak of so there is no need to worry about that. All the victim's medical bills were covered by his primary health insurance carriers. Or the defendant's insurance company may have paid for part of these expenses. They've already been assured they'll be reimbursed. If that's the case, what's left to discuss aside from a settlement?
The one thing left to discuss would be the crash victim's pain and suffering. There are no receipts to prove these losses. What the court would have to look at are the intangibles suffered by the worker. The fact that he's so young and can no longer play with his kids has to account for something. The fact that he can no longer play sports with his buddies or coach his son's future little games has some value. This is why the courts have pain and suffering. If it weren't for the accident, the injury victim wouldn't have these long-term problems. The defendant in these cases must be held responsible.
How Does Your Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Prove Pain and Suffering?
Proving pain and suffering can be difficult. Your Texas injury attorney can't turn to a pile of papers and tell the jury to add them up. They must find some other way to prove your pain and suffering. The way they do this is by allowing the victim and friends or family of the victims to tell their story. Your personal injury lawyer will have you get on the stand and explain how much life has changed since the accident. Your lawyer will have medical experts explain how painful your treatment and surgeries were. They can also talk about how much pain you'll be in for the rest of your life. They may allow your friends to write affidavits explaining how much you've lost. This sounds very touchy-feely. That's because it is. It's intangible.
You can expect to receive about three times as much for pain and suffering as you received in economic losses for your personal injury lawsuit. If your property damages, medical bills, and lost wages totaled $200,000, you can hope to get about $600,000 in pain and suffering. Likewise, if your economic damages total $50,000, you can demand about $150,000 in pain and suffering. That doesn't mean you're guaranteed this amount. You could get nothing. You could get more. This is just the general rule. It may come down to the settlement negotiation your attorney has with the insurance company. This will likely determine the extent of your money for pain.
Talk to a Seasoned Injury Attorney in Texas
When you're seriously hurt in an accident, your whole life will change. You may not be able to resume your career. You could end up in a wheelchair. For all you know, you may be fine. It all depends on your injuries and your recovery. Your Texas personal injury lawyer will try to get you as much money as possible in your personal injury settlement with the insurance companies or insurance adjustor. You just want to be realistic about your expectations. It's a good idea to go into things assuming that you won't get any money for physical pain and emotional distress. That way, whatever you do get will be a total surprise.
In order to find out what your case may be worth and get valuable legal advice, you should call and talk to a skilled Texas accident lawyer. They can review your case, including your medical records. They can look at your work history and find out what the doctor has to say about your future ability to work. They'll answer your questions and reach out to the other parties. Once they've done this, they will have a better idea of what your case is worth. They can also get in touch with the insurance companies to negotiate a settlement. You should call right away and schedule your free, initial consultation. Call The Glenn Law firm today.