Factors Impacting Your Pain & Suffering Claim

Blog,Personal Injury • June 8, 2020

When you pursue compensation after an injury, your damages are not usually limited to the expenses of physician visits and hospital bills. You have a right to be compensated for the full extent of the harm caused by the injuries, not just to your bank account. 

This means damages for pain and suffering. However, unlike financial damages, such as medical costs and lost income, there is no fixed dollar value assigned to pain, or losing the freedom to live your life as you did before the accident. Because of this, the damages awarded by juries and the settlements negotiated with the insurance adjusters for pain and suffering and loss of lifestyle are entirely subjective. 

Credibility Can Make or Break Your Claim

There are many factors that can impact the opinion of a jury or insurance adjuster regarding your pain and suffering claim. One of the more crucial factors is consistency. How much does your account of the incident and description of your symptoms vary over time? If you give conflicting statements of the extent and location of your pain symptoms to different physicians, or if you tell your physicians one thing and then say something else during your deposition, it will cause juries to question which version, if any, is true. There is an old stereotype about crash victims exaggerating or lying about their injuries for a lawsuit, and this conception is alive and well in the minds of jurors and insurance adjusters. The more consistent statements you provide, the less reason they will have to doubt you. 

In the end, the consistency of your testimony is just one factor that can determine your credibility, which essentially is the question of how reliable you are. Many other factors can impact your credibility, for better or for worse, including:

  • How consistent your account of the accident and injuries remains over time.
  • How confident and sincere you seem when answering questions.
  • Whether any other evidence has been presented that calls your honesty into question. 

If a plaintiff has any previous criminal convictions, he or she will probably be considered less credible by adjusters and jurors alike. 

Jurors are not impartial or robotic. They are just human beings with their own set of biases and emotions, meaning that certain factors that are not directly related to the case can potentially sway their decisions, especially in subjective and ambiguous areas like pain and suffering damages. Something as seemingly unimportant like how likable a plaintiff is can possibly impact the amount of the damages recovered. Regardless of what the law may claim, people tend to decide that plaintiffs who seem polite and kind and who inspire sympathy are more deserving of money than plaintiffs who are rude, surly, or arrogant. When it comes to verdicts or settlements, nice things happen to nice people. 

Your New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Your Image

Factors Impacting Your Pain & Suffering ClaimAn experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney will pay a lot of attention to the likability factor of their clients and will work with those who have trouble seeing sympathetic in order to prepare them for depositions and testifying. These lawyers are not scared to tell their clients that they may have an image problem and need to put in some work improving the impression they make on strangers. The success and value of the client’s case are liking riding on how the jury feels about them. 

It is critical that you seem sympathetic and believable, but it will not do much if you have a hard time being honest about your pain, which is the case with many people. Admitting to pain is often viewed as a weakness. However, in the courtroom, there are no points awarded for being stoic. If you ask a jury to award you pain and suffering damages, you need to let them know that you are suffering and in pain. Be open about what you are feeling. You need to be able to express how the pain affects you and the ways it is interfering with your personal and professional life. However, it is never a good idea to exaggerate. When you are asked about the level of your pain, on a scale from one to ten, will the jury be able to believe that your pain is a ten if you are just sitting there and calming discussing it? This is an exaggeration, but many people will claim their pain is extreme and just expect to be believed. However, they are not always, and their complaints of pain can be significantly discounted. 

Another factor of real importance in pain and suffering claims is the support of your health care providers. Pain and suffering damages are usually calculated based on the types of injuries suffered, so an accurate diagnosis is critical. Testimony about your diagnosis should come from your physician. You may be able to discuss this with your medical condition with a physician. If your doctor may tell you that your injuries are less severe than you believe, you should seek a second opinion. However, you should be careful, because “doctor shopping” can potentially harm your credibility. You should discuss with your New Jersey personal injury lawyer to see if you should take such an action. 

Car Crashes in New Jersey

Car accidents are the leading contributor to death and serious injuries in the United States, with more people dying each year. Even in non-fatal crashes, the resulting injuries can be life-changing, causing victims to be saddled with expensive medical bills while being unable to return to work to cover the costs. Making sure you get the compensation that you need to make a full recovery after a serious New Jersey car accident is critical. 

If injured victims think a reckless driver is responsible for their injuries, they should consult with a New Jersey auto accident lawyer immediately. Brady Reilly & Cardoso, LLC has helped countless victims obtain fair settlements after being injured in a car accident. Contact our law offices today at (201) 997- 0030 to see how we can help.