When can plaintiffs pursue compensation for pain and suffering following a motor vehicle accident? Are pain and suffering awards limited by state statutes? In order for plaintiffs to pursue pain and suffering damages, it is necessary for an injury to have occurred. Since pain and suffering is a form of non-economic damages, pain and suffering damage awards are calculated differently than compensation for medical bills, property damage, loss of limb, etc. Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court struck down attempts to cap awards for pain and suffering in personal injury cases.
Pain and Suffering Stemming From Personal Injuries
Severe physical injuries that result in loss of limb function, loss of ability to work, loss of companionship, or loss of quality of life are the most common injuries that clients choose to pursue pain and suffering compensation. For example, limb immobilization in a cast, amputation of a limb, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). It also includes permanent disfigurement resulting from burn injuries or chemical exposures. These types of personal injuries can cause extensive physical and psychological trauma.
When calculating the damage award, juries will consider the severity of the injury and the expected duration that the injury will continue to impact the individual's life. For instance, a broken bone may cause discomfort and inconvenience for a few months, whereas a TBI or SCI will cause lifelong trauma.
The jury will also consider the victim's age and the amount of suffering the injury causes or is expected to cause. They will also review personal diaries, counseling records, and other evidence that establishes the extent of the trauma and the impact on the individual's life. Typically, the longer the duration, and the greater the degree of suffering, the higher the pain and suffering damage award.
Pain and Suffering Awards for Psychological Injuries
Mental anguish is common following a motor vehicle accident, and it's even more common when a loved one is seriously injured or killed in an accident. In particular, if the deceased is a child or a spouse. Under Kansas statutes, individuals can pursue non-economic damages for the mental anguish caused by a loved one's wrongful death.
However, it is not common for juries to award pain and suffering compensation for other types of emotional damages. This includes fear, shame, or anxiety, even when they are directly related to the accident. However, there are exceptions to the rule, and the jury can take into account the defendant's actions. For instance, if the defendant's conduct was extreme and grossly negligent, such as reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, or aggressive driving.
Pain and Suffering Awards Are Non-Taxable
Many clients are concerned that if they receive large pain and suffering awards, they will have large tax bills when the dust settles. Fortunately, as with other damage awards resulting from personal injury lawsuits in Kansas, pain and suffering compensation is non-taxable. Individuals can use these funds as they desire and see fit toward improving their quality of life.
Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Brad Pistotnik is a car accident attorney who represents individuals who suffer personal injuries in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. Our team can recover pain and suffering damage awards for the injuries you have suffered. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.