What is the Value of Pain & Suffering?

bpf legal vermont personal injury lawyer attorneyA personal injury claimant is entitled to be compensated for his or her pain and suffering.  But what does that mean, and more importantly, how do we calculate an amount of money for pain and suffering?

First, it’s helpful to have a general overview of personal injury damages.

There are two broad categories of personal injury damages: economic losses on one side, and non-economic losses on the other.  Economic losses include such things as medical expenses, lost wages, and other tangible expenses that can be calculated.  On the other hand, non-economic losses are intangible.

Pain and suffering is a non-economic loss.  An intangible.  It’s hard to grasp and there is no precise method of calculation.  In Vermont, pain and suffering may include compensation for disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.  These consequences of an injury may be temporary for a defined period, or they may be permanent.

VT personal injury pain and suffering

When we evaluate pain and suffering, we are predicting what a jury is likely to award to an injured person after hearing evidence about how the injury has impacted the person’s life.  The evidence of pain and suffering is different for every person but in every case it includes a comparison between the person’s life pre-injury and post-injury.  How has the person’s life changed as a result of being injured?

Vermont personal injury lawyers who can help

Since most cases do settle without a jury trial, we use data from past jury trials and settlements to determine what we believe is appropriate compensation for pain and suffering.  It’s important to note that appropriate compensation does not mean adequate compensation.  In reality, there is no amount of money to adequately compensate a person for living with the effects of a personal injury.

If you have questions about a personal injury case, please contact me for a free consultation.  Call 802-863-1191 and ask for Adam or email me by clicking here or use the contact form below.

Who Pays The Medical Bills?

If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, you may be feeling overwhelmed by questions about who will pay for all of your medical treatment.

VT personal injury who pays the medical bills

That’s entirely normal because it is complicated and expensive.  The last thing you want is to be injured and be in debt for unpaid medical bills.

Part of what we do for our personal injury clients is figure out how the medical bills will be paid.  We want our clients to focus on their treatment and on getting better, not stressing about how to pay for it – or worse, not getting the treatment they need.

Many of our clients are surprised to learn that we do not ask the negligent person’s insurance company to pay for the medical bills at the time of treatment.  Instead, we look to the insurance company for payment at the end of the case as part of an overall settlement for all damages, including the medical expense, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.

In the meantime, we will evaluate other insurance coverage for the medical bills.  This could be a private health insurer (such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont), Vermont Medicaid, or medical payments coverage under your own auto policy.

If the medical bills are paid by another entity, or remain unpaid, we’ll make sure to get all claims for reimbursement or payment resolved at the time of settlement.

If you have private health insurance and have suffered a personal injury, especially if you have been in a motor vehicle crash, you may receive a letter like the following from your health insurer.  The following letter is what is typically sent out by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont to its insureds after they’ve been injured in a crash.

Vermont personal injury and medical bills - Who Pays?

The Importance of Photographs in a Personal Injury Case

The importance of photographs in a personal injury case

I cannot stress enough the importance of photographs in a personal injury case.  Pictures preserve valuable details about the case while memories tend to fade over time.  When months or even years have passed since the event in question, pictures help us re-tell the story of what happened.  Sometimes we are presenting our case to an insurance adjuster, and other times we are presenting the case in court; either way, our job is to tell the story.  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” proves true time and again in personal injury cases.

Imagine trying to describe the experience of being in a vehicle crash using only words.  And then imagine describing the crash with pictures of the aftermath like the ones below?  See the difference?

Importance of Photographs in a Personal Injury Case

Why Photographs are important in a Personal Injury Case

Vermont personal injury lawyers

When we are retained as lawyers for a victim in a personal injury case, one of our many tasks is to find and preserve all available evidence including photographs.  We obtain pictures from witnesses, police departments, surveillance cameras, and if possible we’ll go out and take our own pictures.

If you have questions about a personal injury case, please contact me for a free consultation.  Call 802-863-1191 and ask for Adam or email me by clicking here or use the contact form below.

Damages for Lost Income in Your Personal Injury Case

The term “damages” in a personal injury case consists of the total compensation owed to the injured person.

Every personal injury case includes damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering caused by the person’s injuries.

But it’s important to evaluate whether the injured person has suffered lost income damages as well.  Lost income damages can include both past and future lost income when a person is unable to work because of injuries.

Lost Income in Your Personal Injury Case

Past lost income claims can be easy to calculate.  For example, if you are an employee earning $500 each week and missed three weeks of work due to injuries, your past lost income claim is $1,500.  Past lost income claims can also be very complicated.  Sometimes earnings can vary from week to week because a person works overtime, works multiple jobs with an inconsistent schedule, or is self-employed.  In other cases, a person can lose an opportunity to earn income, such as a self-employed contractor who loses a big contract.  In the more complicated cases, the key is to document and explain exactly how the past lost income claim is calculated.  We do this with paystubs, W2’s, tax returns, contracts, letters, and any other records to help show the loss of income.

Future loss of income, sometimes called lost earning capacity, is another type of lost wages.  To show these types of losses, we obtain a medical opinion that the injured person will be unable to perform his or her job in the future, and then if necessary we work with an economist to calculate the future loss of income to the injured person.

vermont personal injury lawyers

We can help. We have offices in Burlington and Essex Junction, VT., and are ready to assist you. If you’ve been injured please contact me for a free consultation.  Call 802-863-1191 and ask for Adam or email me by clicking here or use the contact form below.

Insurance Coverage For Your Injury

One of our first priorities in a personal injury claim is determining the source and extent of insurance coverage.  In many cases, the negligent driver who caused the crash will have insurance to compensate the injured victims.

However, it’s not always that straight forward.  The biggest problem we run into is that the negligent driver does not have enough liability insurance.  In Vermont, the minimum insurance coverage that driver must carry is $25,000.  23 V.S.A. § 800(a).  Even worse is when the driver does not have any insurance coverage.

So what then? The most frequent source of additional coverage is under the injured person’s own auto policy.  Vermont law requires that auto insurance policies issued in this state provide uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in a minimum amount of $50,000.  23 V.S.A. § 941.

In some cases we looked to multiple policies of underinsured motorist coverage and “stack” the coverage when necessary.  There’s also situations where we may find coverage under a business policy or an employer policy depending on how and where the injury occurred.

If you’ve been injured and have questions about your claim please feel free to call and ask for Adam at 802-863-1191 or email me by clicking here or use the contact form below.

Personal Injury Basics

So you’ve suffered an injury — now what?!?!

You may be consumed by thoughts of doctors, and treatment, and medical bills, and health insurance, and auto insurance, and what about work and family, and on top of all that, you are in a lot of pain!

VT Personal Injury Basics

Take a deep breath.  As bad as it may seem now, you will get through this.

The Personal Injury Basics

First things first.  Focus on your medical treatment.  Talk to your doctors.  Tell them what is hurting.  Go to all your appointments.  Don’t try to tough it out and hope that you will get better.  That’s not good for you and it’s not good for your personal injury claim.

VT Personal Injury Lawyers

Do not talk to an insurance company about your injuries until after you speak with an attorney — and the advice an attorney will likely give you is “Don’t speak with the insurance company!!”  Whether it is another person’s insurance company or your own insurance company, they are not there to help you when you are injured.  Insurance companies have one goal — to make money — and they make money by paying you as little as possible for your injuries.

OK, now that you are focused on your medical treatment and getting better, and ignoring the insurance companies, it’s time to speak with an attorney.

I’m always happy to give a free consultation.  Give a call and ask for Adam at 802-863-1191 or email me by clicking here or use the contact form below.