Monthly Archives: May 2016

How Do I Value My Pain and Suffering?

A personal injury accident often causes physical and emotional or mental injuries. Anyone who doubts that these mental or emotional injuries are real and traumatic need only consider the depression that can set in when a person realizes that he or she is no longer able to participate in his or her favorite pastime. Or the trauma and fear that a person experiences any time he or she sits in a car after having been seriously injured in a car accident. Compensation for these mental injuries are often pursued in personal injury cases (under the name, “pain and suffering” damages). Do you know how to go about proving not only the existence of these injuries but also their extent?

Proving Pain and Suffering Damages

In some cases, the existence of mental or emotional injuries is easy to prove. Records from therapists and counselors consulted after the accident often provide a clear picture of the extent and nature of the victim’s mental or emotional trauma. Where a counselor or therapist was not consulted, family, friends, neighbors, and/or coworkers (for instance) can all attest to their personal observations of the victim following the accident. This group of lay witnesses will also be necessary to talk about the victim’s life and demeanor prior to the accident. For example, a friend may testify that the victim used to be lively and active and would never miss her morning run. The friend may then testify that, since the accident, the victim rarely leaves her living room, is always downcast and sullen when with others, and only talks about how much she misses running.

Therefore, when proving the existence of pain and suffering damages, it is usually necessary to establish the attitude, activities, and demeanor of the victim before the accident as well as the changes that have taken place since the accident occurred. The greater the disparity between these two periods of the victim’s life, the easier it will be to establish pain and suffering.

Proving the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages

The value of pain and suffering damages is much more difficult to determine as it is so personal. How much is a constant ache that won’t go away worth? What amount of money adequately compensates someone who is now in constant fear of getting into an automobile? These are intensely personal questions that will differ from case to case. The “cost” of an ache or pain to a young and formerly-healthy victim who was active may be different from the “cost” of that same ache or pain to an elderly individual who had previous mobility problems.

Unless a statute limits the amount of “pain and suffering” damages that can be sought, victims are free to pursue pain and suffering damages in any amount they believe is supported by the evidence. The greater the difference between the victim’s life before the injury accident and the victim’s life since the accident, the greater the amount of pain and suffering damages the victim can recover (generally speaking, of course).

Why an Attorney’s Help is Crucial – Seasoned Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyer Michael R. Lawless possesses the experience and knowledge necessary to help you properly value your “pain and suffering” damages. He will help you to understand what amount of pain and suffering damages is realistic in your case and will fight aggressively and zealously to help you obtain an amount that fairly compensates you. He can assist you in locating the evidence and individuals you need to help prove the existence and extent of your pain and suffering damages. Contact the office of Michael R. Lawless for assistance with your personal injury case by calling (800) 734-3771.

Staying Safe While Bicycling

The summer months bring not only sweltering heat to the Kansas plains but also bicyclists to Kansas roadways. Whether they participating in a marathon ride across the entire state or simply getting some exercise on the open roads, motorists will certainly begin to share the road with an increasing number of bicyclists in the coming months. Even rural roads and highways are not immune from this phenomenon. With the increased number of individuals riding bicycles on Kansas roads comes (of course) an increased risk of a bicycle crash.

Bicycle accidents can be catastrophic for the bicyclist when he or she is struck by a car, truck, or some other motor vehicle. Serious injuries – even death – have occurred as the result of an otherwise low-speed collision between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist. While nothing a bicyclist does can prevent all accidents from occurring, there are steps that bicyclists can take to reduce the chance of suffering a fatal or catastrophic injury in the event of a crash:

  1. Always wear your helmet! Wearing a properly-fitted and approved bicycle helmet can drastically reduce the chances of suffering a serious head injury in a bicycle accident. (A helmet does little good, however, if it is not properly-fitted or is not of an approved construction.) You should don your helmet before you take to the road and keep the helmet on any time you are on your bike, even if you are pulled off on the side of the road to take a brake.
  2. Wear highly-visible attire. You need to make yourself visible to motorists, especially if you are cycling on open rural roads where motorists are less likely to be paying attention. Make sure to wear bright, visible colors and to have reflectors on your bicycle. If you are riding at night, wear reflective clothing and use a headlamp and tail lamp on your bicycle. Some individuals even place flags on their bikes. Anything you can do to draw a motorist’s attention to you is beneficial.
  3. Obey the rules of the road. Reduce the likelihood of a bicycle collision by following the rules of the road. Do not cut in front of other motorists and proceed at a safe speed for the prevailing conditions. Before stopping or turning, provide a hand signal or other visible signal so that other motorists know your intentions. Ride defensively and be observant of the movement of traffic around you. Do not ride while distracted (i.e., with headphones or while texting), especially in congested areas. If you are riding alongside traffic, do not linger in a vehicle’s “blind spot.”
  4. Carry “crash essentials.” If you are involved in a bicycle crash and you are far from home, it would be very helpful for you to have a first aid kit and a charged cell phone at your disposal. You may also wish to include other “survival-type” gear as part of your “crash kit” in case you are stranded for a period of time. Also include a notebook and small camera (if your phone does not have a camera) so you can take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene if you are involved in a crash.

Finally, as soon as possible following your bicycle crash, contact Michael Lawless, a seasoned Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney for assistance. Mr. Lawless will take the information available about your accident and help you determine your legal rights. He is a zealous advocate who helps is clients pursue compensation for their injuries following bicycle accidents and other personal injury accidents caused by others. You can reach the office of Michael R. Lawless by calling (800) 734-3771.