If you have been involved in an automobile accident, you may be eligible for pain and suffering damages. However, unlike economic damage, which can be easily calculated using medical bills or car repair receipts, pain and suffering is more difficult to quantify. The best way to ensure you receive fair compensation is to call an automobile accident lawyer as soon as possible.
In Casper Wyoming, you will have to pass several tests before you can receive compensation for pain and suffering. Each state’s laws vary, so your best course of action is always to choose a lawyer with experience in the state. A lawyer can help you build an airtight case and maximize your potential payout. In the meantime, here are things you need to do to prepare your case.
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Find Out When You Can Receive Compensation
In Wyoming, you may be able to claim pain and suffering damages in addition to economic damages. The latter is most easily calculated by looking at any expenses incurred as a result of the accident. For instance, your out-of-pocket medical expenses and vehicle repairs count as economic damages. These are often covered by your insurance company and frequently settled out of court.
However, pain and suffering is more subjective. In order to be eligible, you have to first demonstrate that you were only 50% at fault or less. Wyoming uses a “modified comparative negligence” system to determine fault. If a party is found to be mostly at fault, that is, bearing 51% of the responsibility of the accident or more, they cannot be rewarded with damages.
This system allows for multiple parties to be involved in a suit, and for their damages to be distributed accordingly. As a recent example, a Casper Wyoming jury recently awarded $2 million dollars to the family of a driver who was killed in an accident. The other driver was only found to be 10% at fault since construction crews had not properly marked off the intersection. Therefore, the court held the construction companies to be 60% and 30% at fault, respectively.
Police and insurance adjusters will play a major role in determining who was at fault for a collision. However, you can lend credence to your case by documenting as much as possible as soon as possible. Of course, if you are seriously injured in an accident, you may not be able to get out and start taking photos or videos of the situation. If a passenger is able to do so after calling for help, this would be beneficial to your case.
Nevertheless, most people are understandably stressed when an accident occurs. If you don’t have documentation of the accident, don’t worry. Police reports and the reports provided by your insurance company will still count. You should focus on documenting the aftermath as this will be necessary to prove your pain and suffering damages.
Keep all of your medical records, including the initial diagnoses and recommendations from the doctors that treated you. These will be vital documents later on.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Your claim will need to be proven to a jury. While a good automobile accident lawyer can describe your injuries in detail and paint a vivid mental image for the jurors, photos or videos of your injuries will have a much stronger impact. Your lawyer can show these in court as evidence throughout the process.
Early photos tend to be more effective in proving pain and suffering as your swelling is at its peak and wounds have not begun to heal. This is not an attempt to manipulate the jury; your pain and suffering truly is at its worst when you’ve just been injured, and these images capture that sensation. With this evidence, your claim will be much stronger.
Nevertheless, you should take photos of your injuries repeatedly. This can demonstrate just how severe these injuries were. Bear in mind that the defense will also try to limit the damages their client has to pay. Therefore, they will attempt to downplay your injuries. If you only show images of the initial damage, they may try to persuade the jury that you recovered quickly. Taking daily photos can reveal the extent of your personal injury.
The Value of Expert and Witness Testimony
If any of your doctors are able to provide testimony for your case, either through a written testimony or an appearance in court, it will lend further credibility to your claim. A medical professional’s word is highly valued by juries and they are the foremost authority on physical pain and suffering. If you were referred to a specialist, you may want to ask them for their testimony as well.
Physical damage is not the only way to prove pain and suffering. You may also be able to cite emotional damage. Here, testimony from a psychologist or therapist would be valuable. Their comments bear even more weight if you had been working with them prior to the accident, as they can then note changes in your mood or stress levels.
Witnesses can also be supportive. Police will typically try to ask bystanders if they saw the accident. If anyone approaches you to help you after your accident, you should try to get their personal information so that you can ask them for testimony later.
Impact on Your Life
While lost wages due to being unable to work are generally considered economic damage, other impacts on your life can be used to justify pain and suffering damages. For example, if you were unable to move about for several weeks and could not take adequate care of your children, this could qualify. Especially if you then had to hire extra help or your spouse shouldered additional family burdens, you can count this as part of your pain and suffering damages.
Documenting these situations can be difficult. However, your phone is a treasure trove of data. If you have Google’s Timeline tracking feature enabled, for example, you can show the jury how your daily routine changed. If you had to rely on delivery apps instead of driving, whether due to your vehicle being repaired or because you couldn’t physically drive, save those receipts.
File Your Claim Quickly
Wyoming has a four-year statute of limitations, however you should never wait to file your claim. Unfair as it may seem, a jury may see your hesitation to file as a sign that your pain was not so severe. Of course, if you are filing later, your automobile accident lawyer will work hard to explain that you didn’t file precisely because you were dealing with so much pain and suffering that you couldn’t concentrate on legal matters.
Call a Casper Wyoming Lawyer
Whenever you’ve been involved in a car accident, even one where you think you might be at fault, it behooves you to call an automobile accident lawyer in your local area as soon as possible. You’ll get the best advice in a timely manner that allows you to construct a solid case and get the most for your pain and suffering. Call Ochs Law Firm to speak with one of our experts and start your road to recovery.