Michigan residents and visitors enjoy the Great Lakes State’s historic beauty and scenic roadways. However, traveling Michigan’s highways and streets also comes with the risk of being in car accidents. If you were injured by someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to recover financial compensation from the party at fault for, among other losses, your agony, misery, and pain and suffering damages.
As a general proposition, when someone else’s negligent, careless, or reckless actions cause you harm, that person has a legal liability to be responsible to you for two broad categories of damages caused: economic damages (financial damages) and noneconomic damages (pain and suffering damages). And usually there’s a lot of both, depending on the nature and extent of your injuries. According to Michigan Department of State Police, car crashes injured 74,963 people, killed 85 people in a recent year. Wayne County, Macomb County, and Oakland County combined witnessed the most reported traffic crashes and traffic-related fatalities of any geographic area in Michigan.
This being said, here’s how the category of damages break down:
Clients are people seeking to hold accountable at fault driver’s by demanding compensation for financial losses after a car crash, which they think of first may be getting reimbursed for the bills and expenses that piled up after the crash. Car accidents can have an immense impact on a victim’s finances. The purpose of economic damages is to repay an accident victim for obligations like bills incurred that cause financial harm to the victim’s wallet. This category of damages covers out-of-pocket expenditures for past and future medical care, such as hospital stays, surgery bills, rehabilitation, medical transportation, or even products such wheelchairs, crutches, home modifications, and wheelchair ramps. Basically, anything medically necessary that has a price tag can be claimed.
At fault driver’s insurance company can also reimburse victims for lost wages the victim missed-out on earning while recovering from the disabling injuries. Calculating economic damages is a mathematical formula use to add up all of the money the victim has spent, is obligated to spend, or will need to spend in the future as a result of the car accident injuries and damages.
Noneconomic damages pay accident victims for the personal bodily harm everything has caused that occurred because of a car accident. Lawyers sometimes refer to them as intangible damages (real but don’t have a market for them like the price of a car); losses that do not come with a readily determined price tag attached, but which our legal system says the only remedy must be assigned by the jury in dollar-value anyway. An accident victim’s pain and suffering are one of these types of losses the jury must assign a value to.
Pain and suffering, as the terms suggest, envelop a wide variety of physical and emotional damages caused by a car accident injury. Physical pain can sometimes agonize, misery, discomfort, debilitating, and results in limits an accident victim’s mobility, cognitive ability, and makes normal and essential life activities difficulty or excruciatingly painful to do. Physical pain keeps victims off of work, leading to financial catastrophe or struggles. It keeps them limited on their feet, leading to health complications from lack of normal movement or exercise. It digs deep into a person’s way living and into every crevice of a person’s normal being or existence.
Along with physical pain comes emotional injury suffering. Physical pain itself inflicts especially miserable forms of anxiety and depression. However, even when physical pain subsides, injuries can cause persistent emotional turbulence. An injury that leaves a car accident victim immobile in a wheelchair, for example, inflicts psychological difficulty in preventing the victim from taking part in normal activities of daily living that used to make life fulfilling and meaningful. An injury that causes serious or permanent disfigurement leads to emotional pain related to a victim’s appearance and how disfigurement affects social interaction.
These physical and emotional challenges do not come with marketable price tag attached, but they represent real and (sometimes) crushing debilitating harm that any human being can understand. Our legal system cannot wave a magic wand and take away that kind of human suffering, so the legal system uses juries to come up with financial compensation as a means of giving accident victims the restitution and resources they need to recover physically and help move forward with their lives.
The value of a car accident injury claim depends on many complex factors in your particular case. Since pain and suffering is a noneconomic injury, lawyers, jurors, and insurance adjusters must use rational measures other than looking into a market price tag to determine how much your claim is worth. Although there is not generally formula for calculating pain and suffering damages, as a general matter they increase with the severity and permanency of an injury.
Therefore, the amount of money a car accident victim might receive in pain and suffering as car accident damages in the claim will take into account the following factors:
Pain and suffering damages can seem particularly hard to calculate by relying on past outcomes, because two individuals might suffer the same injury, yet experience different degrees of pain. Instead, the calculation relies upon a reasonable assessment of the negative impacts of a particular injury on a particular accident victim.
To help them in that analysis, lawyers often seek to make objective comparisons of the client’s daily activities before and after the injuries. For example, if a victim was formerly able to work a full-time job but now is unable to manage more than an hour-or-two per day? Or is the victim used to play sports now unable to walk, or perhaps run? Does a victim who used to take joy in spending time with her grandchildren now not recognize them because of her injuries?
This sort of before-and-after comparison helps to appreciate just how seriously an injury has damaged an accident victim’s life.
Of course, it is one thing to gain an understanding of how a car accident injury has inflicted pain and suffering, and quite another to prove that harm to an insurance adjuster or a jury. Experienced car accident injury lawyers often work closely with their clients to collect evidence that illustrates the degree and severity of pain and suffering.
Certainly, you as the car accident victim can testify about the continuing pain and suffering effects of the car accident injuries and damages. But, courts, juries, and insurance adjusters, often want to hear more than conclusory statements from the victim when it comes to proving pain and suffering damages. So, lawyers may also rely on asking you to give details, examples of your situation, and provide medically objective evidence of these subjective harms, such as:
All of these forms of evidence outlined above, and others similar to it, can serve to help the jury understand on the part of judges, jurors, and insurance adjusters what you have lost. By helping those parties imagine in their own minds how the client’s injury would feel, the lawyer can argue that the amount of money sought in pain and suffering damages is reasonable under the circumstances.
To make the most of a claim for pain and suffering damages, in other words, accident victims and their families can help by making sure to preserve as much evidence as possible, and by avoiding mistakes that can undermine an otherwise strong claim. Taking some simple steps in the days and weeks after a car accident injury can vastly improve an accident victim’s chances of recovering the maximum pain and suffering damages available.
These steps include:
By keeping these simple steps in mind, an accident victim can work to build a compelling record of the nature and extent of the pain and suffering injuries that resulted from a car crash. When the time comes to prove your pain and suffering damages, this evidence vital to the victim’s legal team in presenting something more than the victim’s own statements to prove these types of damages and recover maximum financial compensation for your damages.
Lawyers over the centuries, have dealt with this issue in varying ways. It’s no surprise to learn that the parties in a car accident injury cases such as insurance companies, in particular, sometimes resort to arbitrary formula to calculate a rough range of pain and suffering damages. Sometimes, this formula is irrational and fails to do a reasonable job of reflecting the scope of pain and sufferingdamages. You will need to work creatively with the outline above to establish the elements of the formula used to rationalize the compensation.
Two common rational formula are sometimes used to calculate pain and suffering damage include:
Experience as trial lawyers teaches us that even when using these two formulas, evidence and rational analysis plays a significant role in the amount juries award. For example, if an insurance adjuster suggests $50 per day out of thin air as the correct amount for a per diem calculation of pain and suffering damages, the victim’s attorney can argue on a far higher dollar amount if the evidence above is properly collected to rationalize such a higher price argument. The key is performing a rational analysis to prove why rationally $50/day is too low. You might even break it down further into hourly or minute of pain and suffering.
Michigan is one of the few states in the United States to use a no-fault auto insurance system for car accidents. Under this law, drivers select the level of insurance coverage for personal protection insurance benefits. Drivers who choose no-fault policies must make a claim for medical bills, wage loss, household services, and attendant care compensation from their own insurance company if injured in an accident. This coverage excludes pain and suffering damages, so you have to claim the noneconomic and excess economic damages from the at fault driver, even if the other driver is partially at fault.
If you sustained serious impairment injury, the driver can, however, seek compensation from the at-fault party for damages that include pain and suffering and excess economic damages (damages not covered by no-fault PIP benefits insurance).
Also, under Michigan law, personal injury claims against the State, Counties, and Cities (such as for a car accident caused by the negligence of a state trooper) are not capped. The law allows all damages against local government agencies (such as for a car accident caused by a road maintenance worker) to whatever amount a jury decides to award for damages.
Consult an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident injury. Michigan’s statute of limitations provides that you have just three years to take legal action against at-fault parties for damages.
Compensation in a car accident case is intended to ensure that the injured crash victim is made whole, meaning restored to as close to a position that the accident victim would have been in if the accident had never occurred. It can seem difficult to put a price tag on the pain and suffering you have endured and will endure in the future, but an experienced injury lawyer can help rationalize this demand for your dignity and maximize you compensation.
To find out more, contact Joseph Dedvukaj law team for a free consultation.
Contact us 24/7 for a free no obligation consultation at 248-352-2110 or toll free 1-866-477-3563 (1-866-HIRE-JOE).