In any type of personal injury case, the victims suffer a range of damages. Some of the damages can be quantified. These economic damages include the costs for hospital surgeries, doctor visits, medications, and medical equipment. Economic damages also include lost income due to the inability to work or earn a living. Property damage to a car is economic damage. Other damages are not subject to a precise value. These non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering and also mental anguish. In most car accident cases, construction accidents, slips, and falls, and other accidents – the victim has to have some type of physical pain to claim compensation for mental pain.
What is physical pain and suffering?
Physical pain and suffering include each moment, each day, the accident victims suffer from any type of ache, pain, itch, hurt, or other change to his/her normal physical condition.
Pain and suffering cover the intense pain the victim has when the accident occurs, pain during surgery, pain while getting medical treatments, and pain throughout the recovery process. It includes pain the victim must cope with after the doctors have done the best they can to improve the victim’s medical condition.
Pain includes the agony of trying to sleep on a broken arm, shoulder, or another body part. It includes not be able to sit comfortably or to lift a fork to eat your food.
What is emotional pain and suffering?
During the recovery process, patients constantly cope with the worry about – will they ever heal properly? What is their pain doing to their spouse, children, family, and friends? Emotional pain and suffering include the shock of having your life changed in an instant. Many patients worry about their ability to work again and will the job be there for them when they can work. Personal injury victims often lose the ability to enjoy many of life’s little pleasures like spending time with a spouse and children or being unable to read or concentrate.
Depending on the type of accident, some victims have a loss of self-esteem – especially if there is any scarring or disfigurement. It is common to be fearful about getting into a car again if the accident was a car crash or being able to do an activity that the person did immediately before the accident.
An example of pain and suffering
A common example is when a passenger in a car suffers a broken arm. The victim probably first needs to treat with an orthopedist who will X-Ray the arm to see if there are any fractures. Surgery may then be required to repair any bone damages. The arm will need to be set and placed into a cast. The cast will likely need to be worn for several months. During this time, the victim will likely:
- Have difficulty sleeping
- Itch like crazy
- Have difficulty lifting, pulling, pushing, or pulling objects
- Have difficulty eating or writing if the dominant arm was broken
- Also, be unable to work if the job depends on the use of that arm
- Be in pain each time he/she answers a cell phone, tries to type, or opens a book to read
- Worry that he/she is asking the spouse to do the chores for him/her
- Be upset that playing with the child is not easy or not possible
- Suffer many other types of physical and emotional pain
How are physical and mental pain shown
Insurance adjusters, defense lawyers, and juries need to understand exactly how painful the injuries are. A summary will not suffice. Pain and suffering are usually shown and verified in several ways:
- The medical reports. Your treating doctors should do more than just state your medical condition and the prognosis. Experienced Florida personal injury lawyers work with your doctors so the reports identify all your physical and emotional difficulties.
- Your testimony. It helps if you keep a written record of your daily pain and suffering. The record helps to refresh your memory when you testify. Victims normally testify at oral depositions and, if needed, at the jury trial. They will normally also be asked to detail their pain and suffering in response to written questions.
- The testimony of family, friends, and coworkers. The people in your life know how you functioned before the accident and how you live your life with the pain and hurt from the accident. They can be witnesses on your behalf.
- The physical evidence. Often how the accident occurred and the physical aftermath are indicators of how severe your pain is. For example, catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries are a reasonable result of a head-on crash but not as likely to occur if the crash was a rear-end accident.
How pain and suffering is measured?
There is no formula for determining the amount of pain and suffering award. Nevertheless, many insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will examine your special damages – mainly your medical bills and lost wages. These professionals will also review what types of doctors you saw, your treatments, and your current prognosis. Based on these factors, insurance adjustors and defense lawyers will make an offer based on these factors.
Often, personal injury cases are settled based on what similar types of injures have settled for before – or what amounts juries have awarded as verdicts.
Generally, juries are then instructed to examine all the evidence presented and decide on their own what injures are worth. Juries will consider:
- The types of injuries
- The testimony of the doctors
- The testimony of the witnesses
- Their own experiences with pain
- The plaintiff’s future prognosis
- The diagnostic reports
- Many other factors