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Pain and Suffering Damages in a Car Accident?

teen leaving accident scene - Fremstad Law

Q. What is meant by “pain and suffering” damages in a car accident?

A. In North Dakota, a jury (or a Court) is able to award two different categories of damages --  economic damages (think medical bills or wage loss) and non-economic damages (think pain and suffering).  A jury can award both past and future non-economic damages.   How does a jury decide the amount of non-economic damages?  The answer is that it looks at the evidence that is presented to it.  If a person broke their leg in a car accident, they may receive a greater amount of non-economic damages than a person who received some bruises or cuts and scrapes.  There is no magic formula to determine the amount of pain and suffering for which a jury can award damages.  However, juries may consider some of the following when determining the amount (if any) of non-economic damages:

  • Whether an injury is permanent or temporary
  • Whether the injured person needed a surgery
  • Whether the injured person is disfigured because of the accident
  • Whether an injury causes the need for a medically assistive device either on a temporary or permanent basis (i.e., a walker, a brace, a cast, etc. etc.).
  • Whether the injured person’s “normal day” has changed because of the accident
  • Whether the injured person is still treating for the injury at the time of trial
  • Whether the injured person had any gaps in their medical treatment after the injury
  • Whether the injured person had pre-existing injuries that were the same or similar to the injury caused by the accident

The list above is not exhaustive, nor is it meant to be.  Juries can look at one or any of the factors above, or choose other reasons to award or not to award pain and suffering damages.  Car accidents are complicated.  They change an injured person’s life in ways that cannot be expressed in words.  That being said, each person’s experience is unique but matching their experience to a lawyer who can draw out the experiences for the benefit of a jury makes a huge difference.  Mark Western has tried many matters to verdict for his clients and received successful results for his clients.  Mark Western may be able to help.