Compensation for Pain and Suffering

Question: I was involved in a car accident. I was stopped in a parking lot waiting to enter traffic when a man backed into me. Since the accident, I have not been able to work. I am going to a therapist for an injury to my neck. The therapist says it will take some time to get my neck back into condition. This injury has affected my lifestyle as I raise and ride horses and got boating on the weekends with my family. I have been having headaches and neck pain. His insurance has already sent a check to me for the damages to my car. Does this relieve them of any responsibility for the injuries I have incurred from the accident? What should I do about not being able to live my normal lifestyle? Is this a case that lends itself to pain and suffering?

Answer:

The answer to your first question is NO. The responsible party’s insurance company is responsible to you for more than just the damage to your car. The responsible party’s insurance company must pay, typically, for all of your medical bills and other “out-of-pocket” costs associated with the accident. In addition to these costs, the insurance company for the party responsible for your injuries must pay you for how this incident has affected your life. This type of damage has many names. Some call it pain and suffering; others simply call them general damages or non-economic damages. In the end, however, regardless of what you call it, the responsible party MUST compensate you for how this injury has changed or altered your life. As you now realize, everyone’s injuries are truly personal to them. That is why they are called personal injuries. The challenge is how to put a dollar figure on not being able to ride horses or wake up each day without a stiff neck. Our advice is two-fold. First, wait until after you have completed your physical therapy to see if the problem is still around some months from now, but don’t wait too long as there is a two-year statute of limitations within which you must file a lawsuit. Second, you should consult a qualified personal injury now, to discuss your options.

It is always best to discuss your concerns with an attorney. Contact our office for further information, a free consultation, or representation, and we will be glad to give you our personal attention, or your may visit our website atsternbergandzeid.com or e-mail us at sternbergzeid@ameritech.net .

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