How do you determine pain and suffering for children involved in a car accident?

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How do you determine pain and suffering for children involved in a car accident?

My two daughters and I were involved in a car accident where the other driver was at fault. How do I determine my children’s pain and suffering? They were not physically injured but were very sore for the next few days. They also were not “sick” enough to be exempt from the State standardized testing they had to take the next day at school. Also, my youngest daughter can be required to go to summer school if she did not pass that portion of the test for the day after the accident. Will the other driver’s insurance company take any of this into account when we begin to settle?

Asked on May 4, 2009 under Accident Law, Georgia

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

How much would YOU award someone with a story like this if you were a juror? Not much, if anything. and it might make any other portion of the claim look suspicious. In short there is no real way to determine the amount appropriate for pain and suffering in this case, and any insurance carrier will regard it as a pure  as a nuisance claim. 

If someone else was injured you have a lawyer the lawyer will know how to throw in the potential claim your children might bring for their injuries and possible pain and suffering, but even mentioning their potential claim might derail or complicate any settlement of your claim as insurance companies really do not want to settle a case for party 1 with the knowledge that parties 2 and 3 will also sue and may wait until they are 18 and sue again.

If you try to settle the case by yourself and bring this up the insurance company will take it in stride, but you may not like the stride. Also, getting court approval to settle claims for minors is a hassle and a half, and any funds they might get for something such as pain and suffering or permanent injury are generally locked up to age 18.

L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Although you indicate that your children were not physically injured, you say that they were "sore" for the next few days.  Soreness is a sign of physical injury of the soft tissue variety.  If the girls were sore, they should have been seen by a physician following the accident to evaluate them for injury.  It is difficult to prove there was any injury without having sought out the opinion of a medical professional.  Insurance adjusters begin evaluating injury claims by adding up the medical bills for treatment.  Since your girls had no treatment and, thus, no medical bills, it is unlikely they will get much, if anything, for their soreness, pain and suffering and the inconvenience of possibly having to attend summer school from the other driver's insurance company.  I would ask for a small amount, such as $500-$750 for each of your daughters and see if the adjuster is willing to negotiate a settlement based on your word regarding their injuries. 


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