Damages that are recovered by victims in personal injury cases can vary pretty widely, even when dealing with similar types of injuries. The two primary reasons for this are that damages regarding pain and suffering can be very personal, and juries will likely view damages for pain and suffering a bit subjectively.
If you are involved in an accident, how are you able to persuade the insurance adjuster, the defense attorney, and the jury that you were actually harmed and that your injury is as bad as you claim? Presenting a persuasive claim for pain and suffering will usually hinge upon these factors:
- Your ability to testify honestly and openly about your pain and suffering; and
- Having the aid of health care practitioners on your side.
We are going to examine these factors in a bit more detail.
Insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, and juries place significant value on the consistency of testimony. You should remain consistent concerning your statements and what actually happened in the accident, and you should definitely be consistent with any complaints of pain.
When complaints are inconsistent, it can be seen as a sign that the injured victim is not being completely truthful about their condition. For instance, if someone with a back injury tells a certain doctor that they are experiencing pain in their left leg, then proceeds to tell another doctor that the pain is felt down the right leg, then tells his or her physical therapist that he or she is not experiencing leg pain, that person will experience some difficulty when trying to persuade anyone that he or she is experiencing any legitimate pain.
Consistency is seen as a type of credibility. There have not been any real tests developed to determine if someone is actually experiencing pain, so doctors and juries often have to rely on the word of the patient. If the jury does not view the plaintiff as credible, they will likely not believe the plaintiff’s testimony regarding the circumstances of the collision. They definitely will be skeptical of about the plaintiff’s testimony regarding their pain and suffering. There are some key factors that may impact the jury’s standing regarding the plaintiff’s credibility:
- If the plaintiff’s statements and testimony are consistent;
- If the jury thinks that the plaintiff is lying; and
- If the plaintiff has a criminal record.
Likeability is a very personal characteristic. If you don’t like someone, you may not want to cooperate with them. When jurors don’t like someone who is asking them money, such as a plaintiff in a personal injury case, they are not likely to give that person much money. This is just human nature. When a plaintiff is likable and a good witness, he or she will fare a lot better during a trial than someone who is unpleasant.
When a client is hard to like, even if they have a strong claim, a personal injury lawyer can spend extra time coaching the client in order to prepare them for trial, hopefully working on their personal disposition. A good attorney will even directly tell their client that they do not come off well to others and that they should work on certain aspects of their personality in order to improve their chances of having a successful interaction with the defense attorney and the jury.
Openness About Your Pain And Suffering
You have to give a jury a good reason to give you compensation. If you experience pain, you need to the jury this directly. When you do not communicate openly, you may not get what you should for pain and suffering because the juror’s do not understand the extent of your suffering. You have to be able to explain the pain you feel to a jury to receive adequate compensation. This includes how often you experience pain, as well as how this pain has impacted your quality of life and ability to work.
Having Health Care Providers On Your Side
You should have your doctor on your side. If you and your doctor are not working together, you may have run into trouble proving your claim. This is because damages recovered at trial for pain and suffering have to match the severity of your injuries as reported by your doctor. For instance, if someone broke a toe, and the jury awarded the plaintiff $300,000, the judge will likely reduce this compensation substantially.
The severity of your injuries is measured solely through the diagnosis of the doctor, and only the doctor is able to testify about your diagnosis at trial. This means that in the event that your doctor does not believe your injuries are as severe as you claim, the jury will only hear the diagnosis of your doctor and will likely base awarded compensation on their professional diagnosis.
Put simply, if your doctor is not cooperating or does not believe your injury is particularly severe, you should probably consult with another physician. However, although it is fine to seek a second opinion, if you consult with too many doctors, it will likely seem that you are “doctor shopping.” If the jury believes that you are doing this in hopes of receiving a more beneficial diagnosis, it will likely believe that your injuries are not serious, which will be reflected in your compensation for pain and suffering.
Traumatic Auto Accidents in Salt Lake City
If a victim seeks mental counseling after a vehicle collision, there is a 60 percent chance that he or she will experience symptoms of traumatic stress following the incident. This can lead to intense mental anguish on part of the victim, which is kind of pain and suffering that is difficult to determine. In some cases, you can take the reckless driver to court in order to seek financial compensation for trauma with the help of a Salt Lake City car crash attorney.
At Siegfried & Jensen, our Utah personal injury lawyers have helped victims recover after being injured in a car crash for over 30 years. If you have been harmed by a negligent driver, call us at (801) 845-9000 to discuss your case.