If a car accident was severe enough to cause broken ribs, should I get pain and suffering?

In some cases, if your injuries qualify as “serious” and/or you have incurred a threshold amount of medical bills, you can step outside the confines of the no-fault system and file a liability claim against the at-fault driver.

Question:

If a car accident was severe enough to cause broken ribs, should I get pain and suffering?

Answer:

In figuring out whether you can get pain and suffering damages after a car accident, the most important consideration is whether or not you live in one of the dozen or so no-fault car insurance states. (Check out car insurance laws in every state.) In a no-fault state, you typically cannot collect any damages beyond compensation for medical treatment and reimbursement for lost income owing to the crash.

In some cases, if your injuries qualify as “serious” and/or you have incurred a threshold amount of medical bills, you can step outside the confines of the no-fault system and file a liability claim against the at-fault driver. But your options depend on the specific rules in place in your state. Learn more about how no-fault works.   

If you don’t live in one of the dozen or so no-fault states, then your options are pretty unlimited when it comes to getting compensation for injuries stemming from a car accident.

You can pursue a liability claim against the at-fault driver, either by filing a third party claim with his or her car insurance carrier, or by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Either way, all potential damages are on the table, including pain and suffering, as long as your injuries are legitimate -- and in your case, if your ribs are indeed broken, it’s going to be pretty tough for the other side to argue with an x-ray.

So, whether your case settles out of court or you file a lawsuit that makes it all the way to trial, you can expect to receive compensation for pain and suffering if the other driver caused the accident and you don’t live in a no-fault car insurance state.

Now, your next question is probably, “How much can I expect to receive in the way of pain and suffering damages?”

In calculating pain and suffering damages, insurance adjusters often use a formula that involves the multiplication of your quantifiable losses (such as medical expenses, lost income) by a number that will be lower or higher depending on the severity of your injuries, your prospects for quick recovery, the certainty of fault, and other factors. Learn more about calculating pain and suffering in car accident cases.          

Remember, the number that the insurance company offers may not be the number you think is appropriate, but it also probably won’t be the last offer. In car accident cases, settlement often involves a back-and-forth exchange of offers and counter-offers accompanied by supporting arguments and evidence.

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