Can You Sue for a Car Accident if You Are Not Hurt
If you are thinking about what to do after a car accident, one of the first questions you may have is whether you can sue for the accident if you did not sustain any injuries. The answer is yes, and here's why.
The possible damages from an auto accident include pain and suffering, lost wages, and even physical injuries. While some people believe that their only damages would be economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, that's not true. In fact, many of these said damages could be awarded for pain and suffering or emotional distress that resulted from the accident.
The right to sue for car accident damages depends on the facts of your case. The ability to recover damages is also limited by state law, as each state has its own statute of limitations. States may also have a cap on monetary damages, which is the maximum amount that can be awarded, regardless of the extent of the injury or cost of treatment.
Proving Pain and Suffering Damages
In order to prove pain and suffering damages, your attorney will have to show evidence of your physical injuries. However, if you did not suffer any physical injuries due to the accident, you may still be able to recover damages for non-economic losses.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state. In some states, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims may be as short as one year, while in others it may be longer than five years. For example, under California law, you may have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a claim for personal injury resulting from a vehicle accident. A recent decision by the United States Supreme Court may have a major impact on how long you have to file a car accident lawsuit in California and other states throughout the country.
To determine how much money you can recover in your car accident lawsuit, you should consider:
- The total cost of your medical bills and any physical therapy costs
- Your lost wages if you had to take time off work
- Any past or future mental anguish and emotional distress due to the injuries
- Your pain and suffering due to physical injuries sustained in an auto accident.
The Value of Pain and Suffering
You may have heard the term "pain and suffering," or "general damages," in the context of a car accident. This is a term used to describe the non-economic damages that are recoverable by the plaintiff in a personal injury case. Pain and suffering damages include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and many other losses that do not directly relate to economic loss.
Pain and suffering damages are non-economic, meaning they aren't related to the cost of medical bills or lost income. Instead, they're for the emotional pain you experienced due to your injuries.
While pain and suffering damages are often thought to be strictly emotional in nature, they can also include physical manifestations of emotional distress. For example, one who is involved in an auto accident may suffer from chronic pain or migraines as a result of emotional distress.
Because pain and suffering damages have no dollar value, it isn't easy to put a price on them. Pain and suffering is subjective -- what one person considers unbearable could be viewed as minor by someone else. Pain and suffering damages are typically awarded in addition to your economic or out-of-pocket damages.
Compensation for pain and suffering is usually only available in personal injury cases where the defendant acted maliciously or recklessly. This category of damages also is generally not available when government entities are involved.
Emotional, Trauma and Distress Caused by a Car Accident
A traumatic event, such as a car crash, may have serious emotional and mental health effects on an individual involved in the accident or who witnessed it. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is one example of a disorder after someone experiences a traumatic event.
If you didn't suffer a physical injury, you might wonder if you're eligible to recover compensation for your losses and damages. The answer is yes—if you suffered emotional trauma as a result of the accident.
Individuals with PTSD may be unable to work because of the symptoms. Or, PTSD may significantly impact the person's ability to perform activities of daily living or care for family members. The person may incur financial losses and expenses, such as loss of income, medical bills, and paying someone to assist with household chores or care for children.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim When You Are Not Hurt
If you are ever involved in an accident, it is important to know your rights and the appropriate actions to take. If another driver or company caused the accident, you might be entitled to compensation for physical injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, it can be difficult to recover compensation for a car accident if you did not sustain physical injuries.
Trying to prove emotional damages from a car accident can be even more difficult. A personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have a legitimate claim.
Emotional Distress Claims
In California, there is no set amount that must be compensated for pain and suffering or emotional distress associated with an injury. The value of these damages is based on the facts of the case, such as the severity of your injuries, how long they lasted, and whether they caused lingering health problems. Your emotional distress damages may also be affected by other factors such as your age, gender, or occupation before the accident.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for PTSD
A person with PTSD may have difficulty functioning independently and may require extensive help from family members. Because of this, the person may not be able to work at a job or make money. The physical symptoms of PTSD can also affect a person's ability to care for children or perform activities of daily living, such as housekeeping and cooking.
Filing a personal injury claim for PTSD is not as simple as filing an injury claim for a broken arm. In these cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your injuries and prove that those injuries are severe enough to impact your life.
Talk to a personal injury attorney about your case to see if you have a valid claim. He or she can advise you on how to proceed with your case and whether you have an actionable claim.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you should see the car accident lawyer regardless of whether someone was hurt or not. They will be able to assess your situation and let you know if you are entitled to make a claim or not. If so, they can get right on the job helping your cause.
Author Atty. Lem Garcia
Lem Garcia founded Lem Garcia Law in 2014. It has become one of the fastest-growing and most well-respected personal injury law offices in Southern California, having recovered millions of dollars for clients. He received a journalism degree from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and loves to share personal injury law with the world via social media platform TikTok at over 20,000 subscribers.