How is Pain and Suffering Calculated After a Car Accident in Utah?

When a person is injured in a car accident, he or she will have medical bills and sustain other financial losses. For example, there is the cost of transportation to the hospital, prescription medication, and income lost from time off work. But while these financial losses can be truly devastating, most crash survivors say that the worst and most difficult part of an injury is not the expense, but the pain and impairment they experience. It may be possible to recover compensation for pain and suffering caused by an auto accident in Utah, and representation by a Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer will increase the likelihood that the victim will be compensated fairly.

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How Much is My Pain and Suffering Claim Worth?

Even a small injury can be immensely painful, not to mention completely disruptive to the victim’s daily routine and sense of self-sufficiency. The consequences of a catastrophic injury, such as a limb amputation or traumatic brain injury, are even more overwhelming. The daily joys and rhythms of life, like driving, working, eating, socializing, raising children, engaging in hobbies, or simply getting dressed in the morning, can become difficult or completely impossible.

Crash victims understandably want to pursue compensation for these injustices, whose physical and emotional effects may linger for months, years, or even decades. Compensation may be available for pain and suffering if the accident resulted in a serious injury and was caused by the negligence of another. (Because Utah is a no-fault state, compensation may be available through your own insurer for more minor injuries.)

This type of compensation is called “non-economic” damages. By comparison, “economic” damages means compensation strictly for medical bills and other financial expenses.

Needless to say, it’s impossible for anyone to objectively calculate the worth of a pain and suffering claim. How does one even begin to put a dollar value on the excruciating pain caused by a burn injury, or the psychological impact of extensive facial scarring and disfigurement?

All the same, Utah’s courts have attempted to establish a method to calculate the worth of pain and suffering in a car accident. Under CV2004, jurors are instructed to consider six factors as a guide when determining a pain and suffering award:

  1. “[T]he nature and extent of injuries”
  2. “[T]he pain and suffering, both mental and physical”
  3. “[T]he extent to which [the plaintiff] has been prevented from pursuing… ordinary affairs”
  4. “[T]he degree and character of any disfigurement”
  5. “[T]he extent to which [the plaintiff] has been limited in the enjoyment of life”
  6. “[W]hether the consequences of these injuries are likely to continue and for how long”

Most car accident claims are settled before a trial becomes necessary, in which case there is no jury, but instead, a series of negotiations between the claimant/claimant’s car accident lawyer and the negligent driver/insurance company. Insurers almost always try to make low payouts, so it is crucial to ensure that you are represented by an aggressive personal injury attorney who can fight to see that your best interests are served. The worth of each claim depends on unique circumstances, but a skilled car, truck, or motorcycle accident attorney can work to maximize the value of your claim.

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Compensation for Whiplash Neck Pain After a Crash

Unfortunately, whiplash is so common in car accidents that it deserves its own section in this article. In fact, whiplash may be the number one most common car accident injury in the United States. To quote the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Neck sprains and strains, commonly known as whiplash, are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims. In 2007, the cost of claims in which neck pain was the most serious injury was about $8.8 billion, or 25% of the total payout for crash injuries.”

If you were recently in an auto accident, even at low speed, there’s a fair chance you are suffering from whiplash. The statistical odds are especially high if your accident was a rear-end collision, which is the type of crash most commonly associated with whiplash injury patterns.

If you believe you may have sustained a whiplash injury (or, for that matter, any type of car accident injury), you should see a doctor right away. Obviously, the most important reason for seeking immediate medical care is your health; but treatment delays can also weaken your auto accident claim and make it harder to get fairly compensated.

Unlike a broken bone, open wound, or ruptured organ, whiplash is invisible to the eye and often difficult to diagnose. As a result, whiplash claims are often sharply disputed by insurance companies, so it is vital to see a physician early on and obtain detailed records of your treatment. The more evidence you can provide, the stronger your claim will be, and the better odds you will have of receiving compensation for whiplash-related pain and suffering, which may take the following forms:

  • Frequent headaches, which may be severe
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping due to severe pain, stiffness, and tenderness
  • Pain and/or stiffness in the jaw, neck, shoulders, upper back, and/or upper arms
  • Tingling or sensations of “pins and needles”
  • Vertigo and/or frequent dizziness

It typically takes anywhere from several weeks to several months to recover from whiplash. However, while such severe cases are rare, some victims report chronic pain or other symptoms persisting for years after the accident.

Salt Lake City Car Accident Lawyer Serving Utah

If you were injured in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, you are urged to contact Overson Law to discuss your personal injury claim in a free and confidential legal consultation. Salt Lake City truck accident lawyer Darwin Overson has more than 33 years of legal experience, and can come to your location if you are unable to travel. For a free consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143 today.


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