Can I Sue For Pain and Suffering in Texas?
The accident itself may have been over in moments, but the effects of your injuries can ripple across your life in significant and profound ways. It’s not just your medical bills, lost wages, and other easily quantified expenses, but also the pain, anxiety, uncertainty, and sense of loss that you experience for a long time, or even for the rest of your life.
Texas law gives injury victims recourse for these losses when their injuries are caused by the negligence of others. One of the most significant parts of many personal injury claims is compensation for pain and suffering.
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is a legal term for the physical and emotional stress that is caused by an injury or illness. This includes physical pain as well as the anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions that accompany an injury, loss of opportunities to enjoy life due to physical limitations, and emotional trauma.
Damages (financial compensation) for pain and suffering are a subset of non-economic damages, which are subjective, non-monetary losses that result from an injury. While economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages, can be objectively calculated in a relatively straightforward manner (for instance, by producing itemized medical bills or income statements), non-economic damages are more abstract and subjective in nature – but the losses they represent are no less real.
What’s included in a pain and suffering claim in Texas?
Pain and suffering starts with physical pain, and that starts with the moment of the accident. If you sustained broken bones, lacerations, burns, or other injuries, your pain and suffering claim should account for the pain of those injuries. If you’re left with long-term or chronic pain because of the injury – migraines, a bad back, body aches, and so on – then that future pain should be accounted for, too.
In addition to the pain from the injury itself, you should be compensated for the pain of any necessary treatment for the injury. If your injuries require surgery, for example, then any pain experienced during the recovery period should be included in your claim.
In Texas, mental anguish is a separate category of damages from pain and suffering, though the two have several commonalities. While the Texas statutes do not specifically spell out how to define mental anguish, case law provides some information. Texas courts have considered compensation for:
- Public humiliation
- Wounded pride
- Severe disappointment
How much can I get for pain and suffering?
While there may be some guidelines or benchmarks used at various stages in the process, there is no set formula or amount for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering awards are highly individually specific and dependent on how strong a case you can present in negotiations and, if necessary, at trial.
Determining damages for pain and suffering is not just about the pain and suffering itself, but also the effects your pain has had on your quality of life. It’s about whether you’ve lost the ability to engage in activities, take care of your family, and live a normal life.
An experienced attorney can help maximize your compensation for pain and suffering
To get full compensation for all the losses you’ve endured as a result of an accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. In part, that’s because an attorney can gather the evidence you need to support a strong pain and suffering claim. While pain and suffering damages can’t be pinned down with documents in the same way as economic damages, evidence is still critical. Your lawyer may hire medical experts who can describe the specific painful symptoms of your injury or produce medical records that can verify those symptoms.
Medical documentation only goes so far, though. Ultimately, claims for pain and suffering are won and lost based on whether you can be an effective witness in support of your own case. If you can tell a compelling story about how your injuries have affected your life, either in depositions or at trial, an insurance company will notice – and if they won’t pay up, then so will a jury. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you tell your story in a compelling manner, as well as prepare you for questioning by the other side’s attorneys.
Talk to a lawyer about your legal options right away
There are a few things you need to do after an accident to protect your right to sue for pain and suffering. First, get medical attention right away. This not only protects your health but also creates a record of your injuries to verify when and how you were hurt. Second, start keeping a journal. Write down your level of pain and how the pain has affected your quality of life. For instance, if you had to miss an activity or couldn’t complete household chores because of your pain, write that down.
Then, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Meeting with a lawyer isn’t an obligation to file a lawsuit; it’s a chance to tell your story to someone who understands the law and can advise you of your legal options. A good personal injury attorney will listen empathetically to your story, ask follow-up questions, and seek to understand how the injury has affected your life and what you may be able to do about it. The key is to act quickly before important evidence disappears and legal deadlines expire.
You don’t have to endure your pain alone, and you have the right to pursue compensation for the harm you have suffered. Schedule your free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Smith & Hassler today.
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