Yes, dear reader, this question has been asked. Repeatedly. If you Google that question right now, you will see many entries related to the question along with guesstimates of how much more money you might get in such a scenario with some as high as an additional $10,000. In light of all of this, we wanted to explain what types of injuries and damages are recoverable under the law and how your case gets valued by an insurance company or a judge or jury.
First, let’s start with the very basic principles. In any type of injury case, you must prove three key elements. First, you must prove the at fault driver (the defendant) did something wrong under the law. This can be an act or omission. For example, the defendant ran the red light (an act). Or for instance, in a medical malpractice case, the defendant failed to give a drug required under the circumstances (an omission).
Second, you must prove causation. Mountains of paper and energy have been expended explaining causation as it actually has two parts: cause-in-fact and proximate cause. Understanding the fine points of these causation concepts has caused substantial anxiety in nearly every first-year law student. But in simplest terms, causation can best be described as: did the defendant’s act or omission cause some harm to you?
As previously mentioned, causation can either be very simple or incredibly complex. In a car accident where the defendant runs the red light causing a collision that causes a fractured wrist, causation is pretty straight-forward. You did not have a broken wrist before the accident and a broken wrist is easy to prove with an x-ray.
On the other hand, causation can be very difficult to prove. Assume the same car accident but instead of a broken wrist, you have back pain. All of the imaging studies are negative for any fracture, dislocation, etc. Nonetheless, you have pain. This is harder to prove. Even harder yet would be if you had back pain before the accident, as evidenced by your past medical records.
Finally, once you have proven the defendant did something wrong and that act or omission caused you harm, you still must prove the nature and extent of the harm. For this element, you need to show proof of such things as how much medical treatment you had, the amount of your medical bills, how much time you were off work, how much you are going to need to spend in the future to address the injuries you sustained, whether you have any disfigurement or scars or any permanent disabilities, etc.
So back to the original question of whether you will recover more money if you pee or poop your pants in a car accident. That fact is unlikely to have very little impact on your recovery. If you were seriously injured in the accident with broken bones, burns or amputations, etc., the fact that you pooped or peed your pants is certainly not something you or your attorney should be focused on as an element of damages. If you were not injured at all in the accident save soiling yourself, an insurance adjuster is unlikely to pay you anything because, while embarrassing, it does not really rise to the level of an injury as contemplated by the law. Perhaps in a scenario where you have some minor injuries, an insurance adjuster might nudge your settlement up a tiny bit if you claim this fact. But the notion that soiling yourself gives rise to some type of multiplier that will seriously boost your recovery is just, well, bull-poop.
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