Even minor accidents can cause lifelong injuries and problems. For example:
- You may continue to have stiffness in your back and neck after being rear-ended at a stoplight or stop sign.
- After a fender bender you may have rib pain and abdominal bruising from the seat belt.
- A loud crash can cause headaches and tinnitus.
- You may have anxiety, insomnia, or PTSD no matter the severity of your physical injuries.
If you were injured in a minor car accident in Virginia, you may be wondering if you should make a claim against the other driver’s insurance. And if so, what compensation you can claim.
In almost every car accident where an injured driver or passenger files a claim, the claimant can seek to recover out of pocket expenses, the cost of medical care, and pain and suffering.
What is Pain and Suffering in Virginia Car Accident Cases?
Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain and emotional and mental stress caused by your car accident and injuries. For example if you fracture your leg in a car accident, you may be able to recover money for the agony of the fracture itself, the necessary treatment including surgeries and physical therapy, the discomfort caused by the injury, and the permanent restrictions and limitations you may have. You may also be entitled to recover money for permanent scarring and stress caused by your injuries.
There are two ways to seek monetary damages for pain and suffering after a car accident.
The first is by making a claim with your insurance company or the defendant driver’s insurance company. The second is by filing a lawsuit against the other driver in civil court. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method when determining what to do after injuries caused by a minor car accident.
Seeking Pain and Suffering Compensation by Filing an Insurance Claim
You should notify your insurance company after a car accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. But remember, Virginia uses a fault system when it comes to auto insurance claims. This means that drivers must pay damages for the accidents they cause. After a minor Virginia car accident, you should file a claim with your insurance carrier as well as the other driver’s insurance company.
The other driver’s insurance company will pay for costs associated with your injuries only if you were not at fault. If they determine that you contributed to causing the accident, you and your insurance company will have to pay for medical bills you incur because of the accident. This may increase your insurance premiums or force you to have to pay out of pocket for medical treatment.
If you feel that another driver was responsible for your minor car accident, then file an insurance claim with both insurance companies. If your expenses are low because the injuries you sustained were minor, the other driver’s insurance company may accept responsibility and pay your claim.
You may also be able to negotiate additional compensation for pain and suffering as part of the settlement. If your injuries were minor and the required medical treatment was limited, do not expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to offer a substantial amount of money for pain and suffering. The amount of time lost from work and the cost of the medical bills are important factors in calculating pain and suffering for many insurance companies.
Seeking Pain and Suffering by Filing a Lawsuit in General District or Circuit Court
You can file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for personal property damages and injuries after a car accident. Another party’s negligence serves as the basis for the claims in most cases.
If the other party is found to have acted negligently, the court will find that party responsible for the accident. Then it may award you damages to compensate you for injuries and losses.
In Virginia courts often award damages to injured drivers for pain and suffering. The court will use a number of factors to determine how much it should award in pain and suffering: 1) the severity of your accident; 2) the severity of your injuries; 3) the length of your medical treatment; 4) the amount of medical treatment required; and, 5) the impact the injuries had on you and your family. If you did not have much treatment or other evidence of pain and suffering, the court may award nominal damages only.
If you were injured in a minor car accident, do not expect to receive a substantial monetary award for pain and suffering. But you may be owed something.
If you have questions about your entitlement to compensation for pain and suffering, contact experienced car accident lawyer Richmond VA Corey Pollard. He’ll give you advice based on the facts of your case, and he can help you obtain compensation from the insurance company.