Proving Pain and Suffering

Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyers Serving the Chicago Area

Car accidents can affect people in many different ways, and in ways that go beyond the physical injuries. Sometimes the pain and the impact on a person's daily activities can be devastating. It is critical to find an attorney who is able to prove pain and suffering and who can convey to an insurance adjuster and a jury that your injuries are more than simply a "brain injury" or a "severed spinal cord" — that they have caused daily pain, difficulties in your personal relationships, sensory sensitivity, or a loss of self-worth from the inability to do your job in the same way. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, our Chicago car accident attorneys can probe all of the aspects of how car accident injuries have affected your life in order to provide a persuasive account to insurers and the court.

Proving Pain and Suffering

Catastrophic or significant injuries can make it hard for a person to live independently and may trigger humiliation in social settings. Sometimes, serious injuries alter personal relationships. They can make it impossible to have sex or ruin the ability to be close to a partner. They may affect your ability to play sports for recreation, for example, or pick up your children. In a personal injury lawsuit, all of these things can be quantified and translated into noneconomic damages.

If your attorney can establish liability, you are entitled to be compensated not only for the economic losses that you experience but also for your physical pain and emotional suffering. While economic losses are such items as medical bills and wage loss, noneconomic damages include the subjective losses experienced by an accident victim. Pain and suffering is one item of noneconomic damages, and it can be challenging to measure. It may vary significantly based on how your lawyer presents your losses, as well as what a particular jury believes would naturally flow from the types of physical injuries that you suffered.

Factors that may go into the jury's calculation of your pain and suffering include the nature and duration of the injuries, any inability to perform the usual activities that you perform, disfigurement, actual physical pain and emotional suffering, and aggravation to a pre-existing injury. In Illinois, the state Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to cap pain and suffering damages. However, damages are diminished in proportion to how at fault a plaintiff is, and a plaintiff who is more than 50% responsible for causing their injuries is barred from recovering any damages.

In some cases, it may be appropriate for your attorney to retain an expert on the issue of future pain and suffering. If future pain and suffering can be readily determined from the type of injury, the jury can make a decision about future pain and suffering based solely on lay testimony or without any testimony on the subject. However, if it is not obvious from the nature of the injury, a plaintiff is supposed to present expert testimony that pain and suffering are likely to occur in the future to a reasonable degree of medical and surgical certainty, such that it should be awarded. In one case, a lower court had refused the plaintiff's instruction on future pain and suffering in a case in which the pain was not readily evident to the jury, and the expert testimony was ambiguous. The plaintiff had provided only her own subjective testimony about ongoing pain and provided no corroboration from medical providers or experts. In that case, the appellate court affirmed the lower court's refusal to instruct the jury on future pain and suffering.

Seek Assistance from a Car Crash Lawyer in Chicago or Beyond

Proving pain and suffering can be challenging in lawsuits arising out of collisions on highways or other roads in Illinois. It is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can explore all of the aspects of how a car accident has affected your life. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent victims in Chicago, Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as other cities in Cook, Kane, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Adams Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.