What Is Pain and Suffering in a Lawsuit?

Not all accidents have the same types of damage. Accidents can result in not only physical injuries but also emotional and mental distress. And in the context of personal injury law, these intangible damages are known as “pain and suffering.” 

Let’s take a deeper look into this aspect of personal injury law and how it can have instrumental impacts on your case.

Defining Pain and Suffering

“Pain and suffering” is a term used to describe the non-economic damages claimed by a plaintiff in a personal injury case. It goes beyond tangible financial losses and encompasses the emotional, psychological, and physical toll inflicted by the accident. To give you a clearer idea of this term, here are the main types of pain and suffering:

Physical Pain and Suffering: Physical pain and suffering are the actual physical sensations of discomfort or pain that result from injuries. Whether it’s a throbbing backache, persistent neck pain, or headaches stemming from the accident, victims are entitled to compensation for immediate and ongoing physical distress.

Mental Pain and Suffering: Mental pain and suffering encompass the emotional and psychological toll inflicted by the accident. This can include conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or even the grief associated with losing a loved one in an accident. The emotional anguish experienced can be just as debilitating as physical injuries.

Quality of Life: When injuries significantly impact a person’s daily life and abilities, it can lead to frustration, sadness, and a diminished overall quality of life.

Disability and Loss of Function: Serious injuries can result in disabilities or a loss of physical function. Everything related to these disabilities, including both the physical and mental aspects, are considered in lawsuits.

Fear of the Future: The fear of not having financial stability due to an accident can cause a great deal of suffering and it is another aspect considered in courts.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Damages for pain and suffering are difficult to calculate, unlike financial damages. How can you quantify clearly how much a person suffers? There are some methods that are commonly used, such as:

The Multiplier Method: One approach involves using a multiplier to estimate pain and suffering damages. The multiplier is usually between 1.5 and 5 and depends on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the accident. For example, if a victim suffered $200,000 in economic losses due to partial paralysis, a multiplier of 5 could lead to a pain and suffering award of $1 million, reflecting the profound impact of paralysis on one’s life.

The Per Diem Method: The per diem method assigns a specific daily rate for pain and suffering, usually based on the victim’s daily wage. If a victim’s daily wage is $100, and it is estimated they will endure pain and suffering for 100 days, the calculation would be $100 multiplied by 100 days, resulting in a $10,000 pain and suffering award.

The Role of the Jury: In many personal injury cases, the jury is tasked with determining the appropriate amount of compensation for pain and suffering. The jury takes into account the evidence presented during the trial, including medical records, expert testimony, and the victim’s own account of their suffering. While there is no fixed standard for evaluating pain and suffering, the jury’s goal is to award an amount that is fair and just based on the evidence presented.

When discussing pain and suffering damages, it’s important to note that they are distinct from punitive damages. though punitive damages are also non-economic damages, they are not included in pain and suffering damage calculations. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly reckless or egregious behavior rather than compensate the victim. Pain and suffering damages, on the other hand, are meant to compensate the victim for the harm they have endured.

The Significance of Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Lawsuits

With all of that in mind, what is the actual importance of pain and suffering when it comes to a personal injury lawsuit? Here are some things to consider:

Balancing the Scales: Pain and suffering compensation aims to balance the scales of justice. It acknowledges that the impact of an accident extends beyond medical bills and lost income. It recognizes the human suffering endured by the victim. This can have an important impact on the sentence the judge gives the liable party.

Encouraging Fair Settlements: Understanding the value of pain and suffering helps in negotiations with insurance companies. Victims and their attorneys can present a comprehensive case for compensation, including both economic and non-economic damages.

Get Guidance From an Experienced Lawyer

In personal injury lawsuits, pain and suffering is key. A great personal injury lawyer understands this and will look into other impacts that you might have suffered that aren’t surface-level. These are sometimes even more significant than monetary damages since they can literally affect a person’s enjoyment of life

When you need to go through a personal injury lawsuit, it’s much better to hire an experienced lawyer, like the lawyers at Morris & Dewett, to ensure that you get the non-economic compensation you deserve.

Morris & Dewett provides this information to the public for general education and interest. The firm does not represent clients in every topic discussed in answers to frequent questions. The information is curated and produced based on questions commonly asked or search terms commonly used. Every effort is made to provide accurate information. Do not make any decision solely based on the information provided, please seek relevant counsel for each topic area. Consult an attorney before making any legal decision, consult a doctor before making any medical decision, and consult a financial advisor before making any fiscal decision. Information provided is not legal advice. If you have any legal needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are pleased to assist you.

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