Wisconsin Car Accident Pain & Suffering Damages
When you receive financial compensation as a result of being involved in an auto accident in Wisconsin, the compensation you receive is commonly know as “damages.” If you are hit by another driver and are injured as a result of that driver’s negligence, it is likely you will be negotiating damages with an insurance company or, in the event of a lawsuit, the at-fault driver’s attorney. Knowing what damages consist of and how they are calculated will be of great benefit to you if you find yourself negotiating compensation for car accident injuries.
The two most common categories of damages are “economic damages” and “non-economic” damages. Economic damages are those quantifiable, documentable expenses you have incurred as a result of your accident. Non-economic damages are also often referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. Hard to quantify and highly personal, non-economic damages tend to be the largest—and most controversial—portion of any settlement. Read on to learn more about economic and non-economic damages.
Common examples of economic damages resulting from an auto accident include:
- Current and future health care expenses, including insurance co-pays and replacement services
- Lost wages and diminished or lost future earning capacity
- Damage to professional or personal reputation
- Property damage, including auto repairs, damage to personal belongings, and any other property damage resulting from the accident
Non-economic damages represent a dollar value placed on some or all of the following:
- Pain, Suffering and Humiliation
- Mental Anguish or Distress
- Impairment of a Bodily Function
- Trepidation, Fear or Embarrassment
- Reduction in Quality of Life
- Interference with the physical marital relationship, also called Loss of Consortium
Wisconsin utilizes a “tort liability system” for resolving pain and suffering claims. In a tort liability system, claims that cannot be resolved between the plaintiff (the person suing for damages) and the insurer or responsible party, are sometimes taken to court and juries then decide who is or is not at fault for the accident and injuries and how much in compensation, if any, the plaintiff is entitled to. When looking at compensation, a jury will scrutinize each injury the plaintiff is claiming and the amount of money the plaintiff is requesting, and will decide if the amount asked for is reasonable based on the circumstances. Wisconsin law and court rules dictate how pain and suffering damages may be calculated and awarded. In the case of a lawsuit, a jury is the ultimate arbiter of how much you will receive in non-economic damages. Be aware, however, that Wisconsin has passed laws capping non-economic damages in certain situations. So while a jury can award whatever amount they see fit, a judge is obligated to reduce the award if a damage cap applies. To learn more about how juries assign value to a case, see How Do Insurance Companies and Juries Assign Values to Pain and Suffering?
Wisconsin does not mandate that each and every driver carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. In fact, it does not even require insurance companies to offer such coverage. PIP coverage, however, is often a good idea because it will normally pay for economic damages, allowing you to receive some money while pursuing your claim against the at-fault driver. Talk to your insurance agent about your coverage options.
Document Your Pain and Suffering Claim (Checklist) : Start documenting your economic and non-economic damages by using this handy list to help you prove your claim for compensation.
Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance: The Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance site provides useful FAQs and links for filing complaints.
Free Advice Auto Insurance Center:.Articles, FAQs, free quotes and resource links.