As a personal injury attorney in Salem, I have handled many types of accident cases involving, cars, trucks, motorcycles and pedestrians. There are two typical types of damages that must be handled when people are injured in an accident.
People have generally heard of pain and suffering as a form of damages. In Oregon they are referred to as noneconomic damages, which is a much broader category of damages. The scope of damages was originally part of the common law, but Oregon has added a statutory definition of noneconomic damages.
ORS 31.710 defines noneconomic damages as “subjective, nonmonetary losses, including but not limited to pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, injury to reputation, loss of care, comfort, companionship and society, loss of consortium, inconvenience and interference with normal and usual activities apart from gainful employment.”
You can see that pain and suffering is included in this definition, but there is so much more. None the less, it is a good practice to only seek those elements of noneconomic damages if you are willing to reveal your complete past.
To describe pain resulting from the accident is pretty straight forward. To show that the permanent injury to your leg now causes you interference with your normal and usual activity of walking can be shown in many ways. But let’s say that you are in emotional distress over the accident; that as a result you have become totally incapable of riding in or driving a car. Believe me there are real emotional impacts to automobile and vehicular accidents that remain for years. However, in claiming emotional distress, you entire life history of emotional or mental conditions or treatments become an area of great scrutiny and examination by the insurance defense lawyers. So if you happen to have suffered from emotional or mental conditions prior to the accident for which you received treatment and medication, these elements will have to be revealed. If you do not mind the personal exploration of your history, then seeking emotional distress as an element of noneconomic damages is certainly proper.
I will seek to explain more about this topic in the next blog post about damages arising out of personal injury cases.