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Doug Landau
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Invisible Harms, Real Injuries – evaluating losses for compensation

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What do the courts, insurance companies and juries look at when determining fair reimbursement for the harms and losses caused by a negligent defendant driver in a typical car crash lawsuit ? Picking up on yesterday’s post, the following are some of the factors evaluated in setting fair compensation in settling cases or by a jury’s verdict:

If you are a credible witness the jury will be much more likely to award compensation for pain and suffering. For example, you may have suffered a back injury in an accident. If you used to play basketball twice a week and now cannot play at all or less frequently, you will have credibility. However, if you say you are suffering from a back injury and have recently taken two ski trips, your credibility will be low. Additionally, if you say you are suffering emotionally after an accident and you are going on enjoyable trips and frequently going out with friends, your credibility will be low. The jury may also look at whether you had a pre-existing condition. If you previously had back problems and those problems only minimally increased as a result of your recent injury, the jury may not be as sympathetic. However, if you had no pre-existing injury the jury is likely to be more sympathetic.

Need Level

Your life situation will play a big role in determining your need level and subsequently your compensation award. If you have a job that allows you to work remotely, or collect disability benefits and still make a comfortable living while you are injured, then you will be less likely to receive substantial compensation. On the other hand, if you could lose your job as a result of the injury and will be out for months as a result of the injury, you will be much more likely to receive substantial compensation.

Your age could work for or against you. For example, the judge or jury might determine that since you are young you have plenty of time to recover and go out and make more money. On the other hand, the judge or jury may determine that since you are still young your earning potential has been compromised and you should receive a large pain and suffering award.

It is clear that compensation for pain and suffering has to be determined on an case-by-case basis. People that suffer injuries can have very different living circumstances and consequences from their injuries. But it is also clear that under the right circumstances and with the proper evidence you can receive substantial compensation for “invisible” harms.