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What Factors Do Liability Insurance Look for in Placing a Monetary Value on Pain and Suffering Claims?

A common question arises when it comes to pain and suffering claims–how is the monetary value for a settlement determined? It’s a question with a multi-layered answer, one which we’ll dive into and explain further.

Behavior Is Key

When trying to figure out a fair and accurate monetary value on a pain and suffering claim, insurance companies often turn to a somewhat simple plan–check on the injured person’s behavior to see whether it’s consistent with someone who is genuinely in pain and/or suffering as a result of the injury they’re claiming caused it. What does this look like?

  • Was time missed from work, particularly if the job requires physical labor? If so, how much time was missed?
  • Was this time away from work authorized by a medical doctor?
  • Were all medical appointments attended as scheduled? Were any appointments missed? If so, how many?
  • Did the injured person follow medical advice?
  • Did the injuries claim to have been sustained impact daily activity and life? If so, how?
  • Has a medical doctor certified these injuries to be permanent?
  • Are there residual impairments remaining from the injury that further medical treatment can’t cure?

Other Factors to Consider

While behavior is a major consideration for insurance companies in determining a dollar value for pain and suffering claims, there are some other things to consider. One is the amount of property damage to the vehicles involved in a car accident. Though there is no scientific evidence or proof that directly links damage to a vehicle with the extent and nature of the injuries sustained, liability insurers still connect the two–and perhaps just as importantly, so do juries in personal injury cases.

For this reason, insurance adjusters and insurance defense attorneys commonly use terms like “fender bender” in an (often successful) attempt to minimize the physical injuries suffered in what must have been–in their views–a minor mishap. And when injuries are minimized, so are pain and suffering claims…and, therefore, pain and suffering settlements are lower than such claims otherwise would be.

Overcoming the False Correlation Between Property Damage and Injury

Of course, even what may appear to the naked eye to be a “fender bender” or “minor accident” can cause significant injury. Take whiplash, for example. It doesn’t require a vehicle moving at a high speed and rear-ending the car ahead of them to cause whiplash.  A moderate speed impact will have the same effect.

How Accident Victims Can Prevent Injuries from Being Minimized

Much like behavior is a factor that liability insurers can use against accident victims, behavior can also go a long way toward the victim establish the true and accurate extent of their pain and suffering.  Not only that, but the following factors can help any injured person to recover faster than would other would be the case. In short, what helps recovery helps the case.  That’s why it’s so important to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re injured in an accident.

  • Make sure you regularly attend your doctor’s appointments.
  • Be sure to obtain any necessary medical paperwork or verification informing your employer that your injuries are serious enough to prevent you from doing your job sufficiently.
  • Follow the advice of all your doctors and medical professionals.
  • Do not participate in any activities that could be perceived as minimizing the severity of your injuries. Such activities include strenuous physical activity, working long hours, attending social events, as well as long-distance travel of any kind.

Doing so will go a long way toward preventing the minimization of any pain and suffering claim by insurance company attorneys or by a skeptical jury.

If you are the victim of a car accident, be sure to seek immediate medical attention–regardless of the severity of vehicle damage or appearance–and call the auto accident attorneys at The Lapidus Law Firm at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500. We’re here to help victims and will work our hardest to secure a fair, reasonable settlement for your pain and suffering.

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