If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you know just how limiting the pain can truly be. You may spend weeks, months, or even years seeking treatment from your primary care physician or even an expert neurosurgeon just to provide some semblance of relief. While you’re certainly entitled to reimbursement of your medical bills, wage loss, and out-of-pocket expenses, a major portion of your personal injury claim will stem from your non-economic damages – also known as your pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are any general damages that are not calculable with a specific, recognized dollar amount. Medical expenses are a known quantity. Therefore, they fall under the tab of proven economic damages. Non-economic damages are the unknown and vague damages that you have suffered as a result of an injury. They are not quantifiable with a preset number; rather, they’re up for determination based upon what the judge or jury feels about the case.
Specifically, RCW 4.56.250 attempts to define economic damages as
“subjective, nonmonetary losses, including but not limited to pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disability or disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation, and destruction of the parent-child relationship.”
The question then becomes, how does one define these terms. That’s the hard part, and that’s what makes pain and suffering damages so difficult to calculate. The subjective nature of the claim means that every jury will come to a different conclusion regarding what the total amount of non-economic damages total for the same injured party. You could have 100 different juries hear the same exact story and they would likely give you 100 different answers because each jury has a different subjective understanding of the damages claimed by the injured person.
If it’s impossible to truly define non-economic damages, how do you prove it to the jury. The answer is easy in theory but very difficult in practice – through stories. Tell the judge, the jury, or even the insurance adjuster a story about how the collision and injury have affected your life. Lawyers are one-part logic and organization and another part creative storyteller. They need to weave interesting tidbits about their client’s life in with medical jargon from a highly decorated medical expert. Proving non-economic damages is all about showing the jury just how bad the injury was and how the client suffered the ideas described in the statute for a life-altering amount of time.
Speaking with an attorney is a great way to help better understand the insurance claim and litigation process. An experienced litigator will help you prepare your case so that your story shines through and the jury empathizes with the plight you’ve suffered since the collision.
At Magnuson Lowell, PS, we pride ourselves on working cooperatively with our clients to illustrate each story. Call today for a free consultation.