Can You Sue Auto Insurance Companies for Pain and Suffering?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If you have been injured in an auto accident and have experienced physical and emotional pain, you may wonder, “Can you sue auto insurance companies for pain and suffering?” Before receiving compensation for pain and suffering damages, Michigan requires car accident victims to establish severe impairment of an essential physical function.
Knowing what constitutes a serious impairment can help you get the pain and suffering damages you deserve from the other driver. The personal injury attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can determine if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold.
We will help you seek maximum compensation for your chronic pain and mental suffering caused by another person’s negligent or reckless behavior.
When Can You Sue Auto Insurance Companies for Pain and Suffering?
In Michigan, all drivers must file an insurance claim with their personal injury protection insurance (PIP), regardless of who was at fault for the accident. While PIP insurance pays for medical expenses up to your coverage limit, a required $50,000 minimum, it does not pay for non-economic damages like pain and suffering or property damage.
You can sue the at-fault driver’s insurance company if your injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold. The serious injury statute applies if the accident resulted in a death, permanent disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function.
A serious impairment of body function requires your damages to meet the following criteria:
- Your impairment manifests objectively, meaning someone other than you can perceive your actual symptoms
- You have an impairment of a substantial body function
- Your impairment affects your ability to lead an everyday life
What Are the Types of Injuries That Qualify as Serious Bodily Impairments?
To submit your claim, you must have evidence of your serious injury. Your doctor should perform a physical examination and diagnostic imaging to determine whether your injury meets Michigan’s guidelines for severe bodily impairment.
Several types of physical injuries can result in severe bodily impairments, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Burn injury
- Compound fractures
- Spinal cord injury
Your doctor may find that you have sustained multiple injuries that interfere with your normal daily activities and diminish your quality of life. For example, you suffer multiple fractures and a severe traumatic brain injury that requires lifelong rehabilitation and daily assistance.
This injury could affect your ability to live a normal life and leave you with a permanent disability that prevents you from working and results in lost wages.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the court assesses your injury based on how your life has changed since you sustained your injury. To demonstrate this element, your attorney may call on an expert medical witness to help the jury understand the prognosis and the pain and suffering it has caused.
How Your Attorney Will Help You Seek Pain and Suffering Damages
Seeking pain and suffering can be challenging. Unlike quantifiable economic damages and based on documents such as receipts, bills, and W2s, pain and suffering is subjective damage.
A skilled attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can take the following actions to prove your injuries and win pain and suffering damages. Winning a settlement for pain and suffering can’t erase the accident’s impact on your life, but it can help compensate you for your suffering.
- Medical records and expert testimony: Your attorney may present medical records and expert testimony to show the extent of your injuries and the resulting pain and suffering.
- Statements from your loved ones: You and your loved ones can testify about the impact of the injury on your daily life, emotional distress, and physical pain.
- Psychological evaluation: An attorney may ask for a psychological evaluation to assess the psychological effects of the injury on your mental health.
- Expert testimony from professionals in related fields: An attorney may present expert testimony from professionals in related fields, such as therapists or occupational therapists, to demonstrate your suffering and the effect of your injury on your quality of life.
- Diaries or journals: Your personal injury lawyer may present your diary or journal that documents the pain and suffering you have experienced.
- Photographs and videos: Photographs and videos of your injuries and their impact on your daily life may be presented as evidence to prove pain and suffering.
At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., you will have partner attorney and former registered nurse Eileen Kroll on your side. Eileen is an accomplished attorney with over 25 years of experience. Before becoming a lawyer, she began her career as a registered nurse in a hospital surgical intensive care unit in Detroit.
Eileen’s nursing background gives her a unique perspective and expertise on cases involving severe injuries. She can use this specialization to review your medical records and prove pain and suffering damages for your case.
How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in Michigan?
In Michigan, pain and suffering damages are calculated based on the severity and duration of your injuries and their effect on your life. Your attorney will calculate your pain and suffering damages by multiplying your calculable damages by a number between 1.5 and 5.
This multiplier is based on the severity of your damages, with five times your economic award being the highest you can receive. For instance, if you win $40,000 in economic damages, you can win up to $200,000 in non-economic damages.
While there is a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice and product liability cases in Michigan, the state does not place a cap on pain and suffering awards for vehicle crash cases.
What if the Other Driver Was Uninsured at the Time of the Accident?
If you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage (UMC). Your UMC policy will pay for pain and suffering damages if you win a settlement against the uninsured or underinsured driver.
Your policy will only pay up to the coverage limit, typically $20,000 per person or $40,000 per accident. However, you can choose a policy with a higher limit to provide more coverage in this type of accident.
Get the Pain and Suffering Damages You Deserve
When you experience a serious injury due to another person’s negligence, you suffer more than monetary losses like medical bills or lost income. A severe injury can leave you with emotional and physical pain and suffering, impacting every aspect of your life.
The attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. are skilled at helping accident victims win pain and suffering to help rebuild their lives after an injury. Our legal team will build a strong case for your non-economic damages to win a fair settlement when suing auto insurance companies for pain and suffering.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.