When you are injured in an accident, the harm caused to you can have long-term effects on your mental and physical health, as well as on your lifestyle. The physical and emotional pain arising from an injury is called “pain and suffering” in legalese, and you may be able to file a claim to recover damages for any pain and suffering you have been subjected to. Working with a lawyer can help you maximize your claim and prevent the responsible party from taking advantage of you.
What Exactly Is Pain and Suffering?
Since pain and suffering includes any emotional and physical pain you suffer in relation to injuries sustained during an accident, you could be compensated for the pain itself or for any loss of enjoyment and/or ability to carry out activities resulting from the pain.
Some examples of pain and suffering include but are not limited to:
- Any physical discomfort and pain
- Persistent headaches
- Loss of appetite
- Binge eating
- Mood-related issues (anger and frustration)
- Feelings of shame and humiliation
Another example is if your pain rendered you unable to engage in sports or hobbies you previously enjoyed, or if you lose interest in these activities because of feelings of depression arising from your injury. Another instance in which you could be compensated for pain and suffering would be if your injury rendered you dependent on others to perform daily activities — for instance, bathing.
Please note that the state of Illinois has a claim specifically designated for emotional pain resulting from an accident: a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. If your pain and suffering is exclusively related to emotional distress, it would be more appropriate to file this type of claim.
Pursuing a Pain and Suffering Claim in Illinois
The law grants a person a certain window of time to file a pain and suffering claim, as outlined in every state’s statute of limitations. In Illinois, the statute of limitations permits pain and suffering claimants two years after the accident happened to file a personal injury claim. For medical malpractice, the state allows two years from the date that malpractice was committed or two years from the date a claimant could be reasonably expected to know it was committed to file a claim — whichever date comes first. When a claim is made against a government agency, claimants are given only one year to file.
It may seem easy to figure out the appropriate statute of limitations and file a claim before it expires on your own, but these limitations have nuances that a person who is not a legal professional can easily overlook. For instance, pain and suffering claims for an injury caused during birth may spark confusion about when exactly that two-year clock starts running, especially if the doctor was not honest that their malpractice caused the injury. An experienced attorney can ensure that you do not let the statute of limitations run out on your pain and suffering claim. They will also know of any other legal deadlines that can be just as important to meet.
Determining Damages for Pain and Suffering Claims
Pain and suffering is considered a non-economic damage because these negative experiences do not have an associated itemized bill. This is wholly because pain and suffering encompasses negative experiences to which it would be difficult to assign a dollar amount. In fact, the law does not lay out any specific procedure to determine pain and suffering payouts.
A lawyer can ensure that you do not unintentionally give the negligent party a low estimate and assist you in determining the appropriate method to calculate your payout based on the following factors:
- Nature and severity of the injury and/or disfigurement
- Length of recovery and required medical attention
- Any aggravated pre-existing conditions
- Professional pain rating associated with the injury
- Negative impact on work
- Negative impact on daily activities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced quality of life
- Testaments from friends, family, and mental health professionals
Attorneys will also know what can be used as evidence for the pain and suffering you are going through. Evidence may include journal entries, missed time from work and/or school, and documentation of previous and current prescription medications.
The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm Has the Experience Needed to Help You.
You could pursue a pain and suffering claim without the help of an attorney, but taking into account the statutes of limitations, determining factors, and even the multiplier and per diem methods, it is advisable to hire a professional lawyer experienced in this line of work.
Our attorneys at The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm can guide you through the legal process to help you build a strong case and fight against the opposing party’s insurance company, which is likely to minimize or completely deny your claim. We are not afraid to take on large corporations, having done so many times in the past. Our legal team has a vast network of resources, which allows us to retain experts in civil engineering, pathology, radiology, or whichever industry caused your injury. We accept small and large cases throughout Central and Southern Illinois, as well as in the St. Louis area.
Call The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm at (217) 394-5885 or contact us online today to discuss your case with a member of our legal team.