What Evidence Do I Need to Win a Pain & Suffering Settlement in Pennsylvania?
Serious injuries and pain & suffering settlement wreak havoc on victims’ lives. They cause intense physical pain that often becomes chronic, lingering for years, even a lifetime.
Victims may need strong medications with harsh side effects to fight the pain. The injured party may be unable to work, leading to financial stress and mental anguish. Formerly cherished activities, such as sports and other hobbies, may become a thing of the past.
Family life can be interrupted. Time with children and other loved ones may be forever lost. In some cases, brain injuries destroy memories, alter personalities, and permanently diminish important relationships.
These are severe, life-altering consequences of someone else’s negligence. Victims deserve total compensation for all the losses the injury entails.
Courts award damages based on evidence. Plaintiffs must prove that their damages resulted from the accident.
The following seven types of evidence provide the most effective forms of proof of pain and suffering:
- Medical records
- Photographs and videos
- Witness statements
- Expert witness testimony
- Injured party’s notes on injury’s impact
- Official reports
- Damaged personal property items
Medical records do more than show a history of treatments and the costs involved. They also tell the story of a personal injury victim’s pain and suffering.
While meeting with doctors, personal injury victims should never hesitate to share all of the symptoms they experience. Severe injuries affect the whole person, not just the impacted body parts. Chronic pain limits daily activities destroys plans prevents you from taking advantage of opportunities and causes continuous stress.
When visiting medical providers, be sure to detail how the injury affects your daily activities on a physical and emotional level. Physical anguish includes all pain and discomfort caused by the injury and treatment side effects, such as pain while walking, itching, stiffness, and nausea from medications.
Also, do not be shy about expressing feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, and loss of enjoyment of life. All of these difficulties routinely arise in accident cases.
Your attorney will obtain copies of all related medical records during the discovery process. Pain and suffering are more readily proven when recorded in medical records.
The medical evidence does more than demonstrate that you experience significant pain and discomfort. It also links that pain and discomfort to the incident.
Insurance company attorneys battle pain and suffering damages by asserting that the accident is not the cause. However, an accident victim can have pain from another source. Therefore, it is incumbent on the plaintiff to prove that the pain and suffering resulted from the injury.
Doctors note the symptoms, causes, and treatments when patients complain of a condition. For example, your doctor may note that an accident injured your back, requiring you to restrict lifting to items under five pounds. Your doctor may also write that pain in your knee from the incident makes sleeping difficult and prescribe painkillers to help you rest.
In addition, being hospitalized and then restricted to staying home for extended periods may lead to forced inactivity and isolation. Seeking treatment for resulting depression generates a medical record of this emotional distress.
Video and Photographic Evidence
Sometimes a picture or video instantly tells a story.
For example, many visible injuries look as painful as they feel. Visual documentation of bruising, swelling, stitches and other manifestations of your physical injuries can bring your pain and suffer home for a jury. In addition, pictures of accident victims on a hospital bed or gurney often show the gravity of the case.
By taking pictures at different stages of treatment and recovery, you can show a jury the severity of the initial impact, the amount of time and effort it took to recover, and the agony involved with processes such as surgery, re-learning to walk, and skin grafts for severe burns.
Surveillance videos may also tell your story. For instance, a surveillance camera may catch the moment a vehicle struck you in a crosswalk and you were thrown to the pavement to writhe in agony.
Pictures of the scene do more than demonstrate where the accident happened and that the defendant was negligent. They can also make pain and suffering apparently. For example, photos of mangled cars or bicycles, blood patches on sidewalks or floors, or torn clothing stuck in a machine's gears make the injury's severity clearer.
Often, young and healthy accident victims need assistive devices just to get around, such as wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers. Pictures of the victim struggling to move to demonstrate the impact on daily living.
In addition, visual documentation of lifestyle changes is also helpful. For instance, if the injury rendered you unable to climb steps, pictures of a bed moved downstairs to show the pervasive effect of the accident on your life.
Most likely, people close to you observe your pain and suffering. Your family and friends knew you before the accident and can see exactly what has changed due to the injury. They see areas of life you struggle with because of the accident, such as the following:
- Personal care
- Pet care
You may have needed a great deal of assistance after the injury. Anyone who has helped you during this time can see how it has affected your life.
Expert Witness Testimony
Expert witnesses provide valuable opinions to the court. For example, an accident reconstructionist can testify to where negligence for a vehicle collision lies. In addition, experts have particular importance in claims involving medical malpractice and defective products. For example, expert witnesses must determine whether healthcare providers administered inappropriate treatments.
Expert witnesses also provide valuable testimony for establishing pain and suffering. For example, in a brain injury case, an expert can testify to the impacts of the injury on cognitive functioning and its long-term effects. A psychologist can shed light on an injured child’s emotional stress or an accident victim’s post-traumatic stress. In wrongful death cases, experts can explain the decedent's pain and suffering.
Injured Party’s Notes on the Injury’s Impacts
In many cases, the plaintiff is the chief witness regarding pain and suffering. The more detailed and concrete examples they can provide, the more convincing to a jury. Keeping memories fresh is essential. Personal injury cases can take several years to resolve, and without a diary or journal recording their daily experiences, plaintiffs start to forget many instances of pain and suffering.
Examples of pain and suffering to record in a diary include the following:
- Pain levels were recorded daily from 1 to 10
- Emotional impacts of disabilities
- Emotional impacts of disfiguring injuries
- Difficulties from being unable to work or perform the routine tasks of living
- Fear of continued disability
- Financial stress from the accident
- Distress from missing important events
- Isolation, loneliness, and depression
Many personal injuries result in police- and fire department reports that can help prove pain and suffering. For instance, car accidents involving casualties result in a police report. This report contains information on apparent injuries and if the victim was transported to a hospital.
Fire and rescue reports may record the victim’s emotional state immediately after the accident. For instance, you may have experienced severe mental trauma if you were trapped in a crushed vehicle, were buried by fallen building material, or were caught in faulty machinery. All of these cases naturally cause physical pain and terror.
Other incident reports may provide evidence of pain and suffering. For example, an incident report from a business where the accident occurred may show the traumatic nature of the accident.
Items from the scene often show the extent of pain and suffering. For instance, torn and bloody clothes that had to be cut off a car accident victim. Usually, physical evidence has an emotional impact on the jury. This often induces them to decide on higher damages for pain and suffering.
Avoid handling physical evidence over to an insurance company. Instead, keep it in a ziplock bag with the item's name and date written on the outside.
Proving High-Dollar Pain and Suffering Claims During A Pain & Suffering Settlement
Insurance companies prioritize their bottom lines. As a result, they are less likely to fight pain and suffer damages when the money involved is relatively small. The costs of battling them in court outweigh simply paying the damages.
However, when injuries are significant, the insurance company realizes that if it can reduce pain and suffering damages significantly below what the plaintiff requests, it is worth paying their lawyers to litigate the case.
Pennsylvania courts award pain & suffering settlement as multiple economic damages. Imagine a case where a victim’s monetary damages total $250,000. A jury can then award between 1X and 5X that amount for general damages. Insurance companies may try to litigate a case like this because even a 1X reduction in general damages represents a lot of money.
When you have a significant value claim, you need expert personal injury attorneys on your side. Mattiacci Law personal injury attorneys work diligently to build their client’s cases, both in terms of proving liability and damages. They understand the tactics insurance company lawyers use to devalue claims.
Because of this, Mattiacci Law collects every possible piece of evidence to prove their client’s pain and suffering in their pain & suffering settlement case. With an unassailable case against their client assembled, defense lawyers have little choice except to negotiate a settlement that provides the plaintiff with total compensation.
Consult With a Pennsylvania Pain & Suffering Settlement Attorney
Mattiacci Law’s personal injury litigators work meticulously to obtain evidence during their client's Pain & Suffering Settlement case. To learn more about how they can help, contact Mattiacci Law for a free, confidential consultation.
Related Content: How Are Pain and Suffering Settlements Calculated