What to Expect from Pain & Suffering Settlements in PA: A Philadelphia Injury Attorney Explains
If you’re in Pennsylvania and you’ve been the victim of a personal injury accident, the damages are done to you probably didn’t stop at just your medical bills or lost wages. There are a whole host of ways that being the victim of an accident can affect your life, which is why you have the right to claim pain and suffering as part of a legal case against the negligent person or business who caused your accident.
In Pennsylvania, experienced Philadelphia Injury Attorneys not only know how to appropriately value your case (with all the information you provide), but they know how to win your case hands down. You’ve already suffered enough—it’s time that you get justice in the form of a settlement that appropriately matches what you’ve gone through.
Pennsylvania Specifications Regarding Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are also known as intangible losses. This means that there isn’t a clear-cut, black-and-white price tag that you can put on what you’re going through. Sure, there might be lost wages, prescription medications, doctor and hospital bills, and physical therapy appointments that are all associated with your personal injury, but there’s more to it than that.
Personal injury damages are typically separated into two categories in Pennsylvania: economic and non-economic. Economic, or special, damages are those classified above that tend to have a specific amount connected with them. These are things you can show payment stubs or schedules for, which will add up on their own. Noneconomic, or general, damages, though, are less easily identified. Here is where it is incredibly important for you to have a seasoned personal injury lawyer from Pennsylvania, like the ones at Mattiacci Law, who can ensure that you are bringing forth all the necessary information to win the settlement you deserve.
One of the reasons that pain and suffering damages are so hard to determine is that everyone’s situation is unique. Let’s say you slipped on a puddle of water in a restaurant and broke your wrist when you fell. If your career is as a professional video gamer, your entire livelihood revolves around using your hands to navigate the video game controllers. You might not be able to work for months if your break requires surgery, and even when you do, it will take you a great deal longer to be able to get back to using your controllers at the speed you used to. If, however, you are a teacher, and you broke your non-dominant hand, you might be able to run your classroom fairly efficiently with your arm in a sling while it’s healing. On the other hand, if the accident affected your ability to speak, this situation might be reversed. As a teacher, you wouldn’t be able to speak to your students and lead a class, but as a gamer, you might be able to work without talking to others.
To accurately estimate how much pain and suffering is actually associated with your injury and the way it affects your life, you have the responsibility to provide medical testimony (even if it doesn’t have a monetary amount attached to it) that reflects the way your life has been altered by this injury. A judge will consider all your information and weigh it against your age, your lifestyle, and your personal testimony.
Pennsylvania Limitations on Pain and Suffering Damages
The damages awarded in your case don’t have to be limited to what you’ve already experienced. They can also include possible future pain and suffering, too, if your injury is likely to affect you for a long time afterward. However, there are certain limitations to what you can ask for (and be awarded) for a personal injury case.
The first thing to be aware of is the Pennsylvania statute of limitations. Once you have been injured or your property has been damaged, you only have two years to bring your case forward. This might seem like a long time, but once you’ve got your head back above water after the accident happened, time can slip away pretty quickly. This is another important reason to have a personal injury attorney at the ready so that your case can be brought forward as soon as possible. Two years is also the time limit for cases involving medical malpractice and/or wrongful death.
Pennsylvania law also has damage caps on personal injury or personal property claims, although the only cases personal injury caps are applicable are those against the government. In these cases, there is a $250,000 cap against Pennsylvania itself and a $500,000 limit against the local government. Local government cases only allow pain and suffering damages to be collected if the injury resulted in death or permanent loss of bodily function, disfigurement, or dismemberment. The medical and/or dental expenses in these cases must have also exceeded $1,500.
Pennsylvania also has laws stipulating your own fault in a case. If you were more than 50% at fault in the injury itself, you cannot sue for damages. If you have no-fault car insurance, your ability to sue another driver is also limited.
However, state laws are often changing. Your Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the current legislation to make sure that you aren’t letting anything slip by the wayside and that you can still get everything you need and deserve to get your life back on track after your injury.
Letting an Experienced Philadelphia Injury Attorney Evaluate Your Claim
You are already going through enough while healing from your injury and adjusting to a new way of life. The last thing you need to worry about is whether or not you are going to be able to present your pain and suffering case in the best way possible to recover the damages you need. Hiring an experienced attorney ensures you get the guidance you need, as they will know how to present a case with regard to the limitations in place and the subjective nature of this area of law. They will know how to present your case to a jury so that your voice is heard.
What the Jury and Court Look For in Philadelphia
There aren’t any set standards or objective qualifications in a pain and suffering case, which is why you want your lawyer to be confident in their ability to speak on your behalf. However, there are a few things that a judge and jury typically look for and give weight to. These include:
- How severe your injury is/was—If your accident caused an injury or disability that will last for years to come or that will be life-altering, such as the loss of a body part and or blindness or deafness, then your case is more likely to require (and win) pain and suffering damages.
- How old you were at the time of the injury—Since younger victims have more life ahead of them, they are more likely to receive larger pain and suffering settlements, as they have longer to suffer the effects of the injury.
- How much suffering the injury actually caused (or will cause)—If there was specific and/or acute pain when the accident happened, and that pain is continuing (or likely to continue), this is a good sign that pain and suffering damages will be awarded. Simply having something be a nuisance or a bother is less likely to receive an award.
Juries are instructed to use their best judgment when they are asked to determine a settlement amount in subjective cases such as personal injury pain and suffering cases.
Mental and Emotional Anguish
Not all pain and suffering has to do with the physical body. Oftentimes, a physical injury causes mental and emotional pain as well. Some of these struggles could include new phobias around certain areas or activities, social anxiety because of a deformity or disfigurement, or shame surrounding the effects that the incident had on your family or loved ones.
Usually, the only time that emotional pain and suffering damages are awarded in a case is if the defendant’s actions were outrageous or extreme. This can also be known as “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Usually, the victim attests to some form of emotional trauma connected to the accident or injury. Not all negative or derogatory behavior qualifies to be charged with this, though, because as a society we are expected to deal with certain levels of rude and/or disrespectful behavior from others. When it crosses a—very subjective—line, though, it can be brought forward in court to add to a pain and suffering case.
Usually, cases that can include mental or emotional anguish involve a defendant’s extreme conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes not only severe emotional distress but also possible bodily harm. The defendant, in this case, would be responsible for both the emotional and physical damages to the victim.
However, these cases aren’t always cut and dry. If you are experiencing a great deal of mental or emotional upheaval because of your injury, make sure that your attorney knows this and can bring it forward during your hearing.
Call Today For A Free Case Evaluation From An Experienced Philadelphia Injury Attorney
Pain and suffering settlements are fraught with subjectivity and emotion. You shouldn’t have to go this route alone, especially when you’ve already been suffering enough. Reach out to our empathetic, experienced lawyers at Mattiacci Law Firm in Pennsylvania. We will help you navigate the process in a way that allows you to heal physically while being confident that you will receive a pain and suffering settlement that will cover every struggle you’ve experienced.