No one wants to endure the ordeal of an injury that may involve intense physical and financial pain that could last for years. Thankfully, in many cases, this suffering can be mitigated by receiving a financial compensation from the party at fault.
At the Gilbert Law Firm, we take the time to get to know each and every one of our clients — who you are at your core, and what you need. We work with you through your case to determine how we can help you move forward after your injury.
In this blog, we examine how pain and suffering is determined in Washington, but as always, contact us to discuss the details of your case more specifically.
Pain and Suffering in Washington State
If you suffered a personal injury due to the actions of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. On top of the costs of damaged property, lost wages and medical bills, you could receive compensation for any of the following:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
Unlike economic damages which can be calculated by adding up bills, pain and suffering must often be interpreted by a jury.
Compensatory Damages in Washington State
If you are not a lawyer or have never been involved in a personal injury case before, then you might not be familiar with some of the legal terms that your lawyer may use.
First of all, the term “compensatory damages” refers to a financial award that reimburses you for some kind of harm, be it physical, mental or financial.
There are two kinds of compensatory damages: special and general. Special compensatory damages cover the expenses related to a personal injury.
This may include:
- Medical bills
- Household expenses
- Loss of earnings and future earnings
General compensatory damages cover non-monetary damages related to an injury and includes pain and suffering. In the state of Washington, pain and suffering is defined as non-economic damages that may be subjective and include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life or personal humiliation.
How Is Pain and Suffering Determined in Washington State?
Before you try to estimate how much your personal injury may produce in pain and suffering damages, you should understand that every case is unique. Not only are the circumstances of the injury unique, but so is the makeup of the court.
Washington law doesn’t cap pain and suffering damages, and ultimately, the amount awarded for pain and suffering damages is left to the province of the jury to decide. Because every person is unique and every claim is unique, factors that can influence the decision can include the nature of the injury, the type of trauma experienced and/or the permanent harm that is left as a result of the trauma.
For example, one person may sustain a strain/sprain injury in a car crash that they recover from without a significant amount of care, while another person may experience a catastrophic injury that leaves them with paralysis and the need for permanent support to complete their activities of daily living. These two claims will have very different pain and suffering damages.
Some attorneys like to argue pain and suffering damages considering a person’s life expectancy and their prior injury annual income in an effort to try to calculate an amount based on the person’s earnings and remaining years. However, Washington does not have a set “right” or “wrong” method for determining a person’s pain and suffering. This allows a knowledgeable attorney to assess the value of your claim based on your unique situation and the impact the traumatic event has had on your life.
Another factor that may influence an overall verdict award is where the injured person is partly at fault for causing their own harm. Washington employs the “pure comparative fault” rule, which allocates fault to both parties and proportionately distributes damages. If, for example, the court determines that the injured party was 60 percent at fault for the injury, then they could only recover 40 percent of the jury award.
There are also many other laws governing personal injury cases in Washington, including statutes of limitations, meaning you have a limited time period in which you can bring a personal injury lawsuit, so you want to make sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney promptly after you’ve been injured.
Contact the Gilbert Law Firm to schedule your consultation
To learn more about pain and suffering compensation in Washington state and what you can expect in your case, contact us to speak to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Gilbert Law Firm.