Connecticut Car Accident Pain & Suffering Damages
What to pay for an injured driver’s pain and suffering is always one of the central issues to be sorted out after a car accident, and in Connecticut, how this gets resolved depends on whether the injured party is dealing with an insurance company or a group of jurors.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Most auto accidents end up in the hands of insurance companies and adjusters in the form of a car accident claim. Knowing how insurance companies view compensation for pain and suffering will help you negotiate a settlement that is both fair and reasonable. The first step to understanding the injury claims process in Connecticut is understanding that damages are divided up into two types: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include medical care and medical expenses related to the injury, and loss of earnings, earning capacity and/or loss of future earnings. Non-economic damages are the more intangible losses, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, anxiety, loss of the enjoyment of certain relationships, embarrassment, humiliation, etc.
Insurance companies typically use the amount of economic damages as a baseline for deciding how much to offer by way of compensation for non-economic damages. Looking to the severity of your injuries and the duration of your incapacity, an insurance company will usually offer compensation that reflects how much and how long you have suffered as a result of the accident in question. For example, if your injuries were minor, and within a week, you were good as new, your economic damages will be small as well. Let’s assume your medical expenses were $300 and you lost no time at work. An insurance company might award you two times your economic damages for your non-economic damages (the pain you suffered and the inconvenience of having to go to the doctor, for example). Your non-economic damages would amount to $600, coupled with your economic damages, and the insurance company would offer you $900 to settle your claim. Of course, if your injuries were more serious, the multiplier for non-economic damages would be higher, maybe even five times your economic damages.
Convincing a Connecticut Jury
If your claim ends up in court, a jury will determine the amount of damages to which you are entitled. A jury has some leeway to decide what is right and fair in terms of compensation for your injuries and will not use a formula to make its decision. Instead, a jury will consider all of the evidence presented at trial and provide separate awards for economic and non-economic damages.
Your medical expenses and loss of past, present or future earnings or earning capacity will be considered as long as your claim for compensation is reasonable and the expenses or losses were ultimately caused by the other driver’s carelessness (or negligence in legal terms). In addition to your medical expenses and loss of earnings, a jury may also consider compensating you for any physical pain and suffering, emotional suffering, loss of enjoyment of life’s pleasures and any loss of function. If you have a permanent injury, disfigurement and/or loss of function, a jury will consider the nature and extent of these injuries and their negative impact on your life. To learn more about how values are assigned to pain and suffering, check out How do insurance companies and juries assign values to pain and suffering?
Personal Injury Car Accident Checklist - Documenting Your Injury Claim: Use this checklist to keep track of your economic and non-economic damages and to document the validity of your claim.
Connecticut Insurance Department: The Connecticut Insurance Department, Consumer Affairs Unit, publishes helpful information about auto insurance and coverage, and fields complaints about insurance companies.
Free Advice Auto Insurance Center: Car insurance articles, Questions & Answers, insurance quotes and research links.