What is “Pain and Suffering” in a Personal Injury Case?
Many people, when contemplating a personal injury claim, consider claiming damages with regards to pain and suffering. But what does that mean, and how does anyone calculate what such a condition would be worth in dollars and cents? Here is a primer on pain and suffering in lawsuits, and how it may inform your personal injury claim.
Terms Involved in Personal Injury Lawsuits
First, it is important to understand certain some definitions. Physical pain and suffering is defined as the pain resulting from the actual physical injuries sustained by the victim. It does include pain and suffering likely to result from the same in the future, but not pain or suffering resulting from some other cause. Mental pain and suffering includes accompanying mental symptoms resulting from those injuries, such as emotional distress, humiliation, sexual dysfunction, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. Some simple examples of physical pain and suffering would be broken bones from a car accident, or a concussion from slipping and falling, while some simple examples of mental pain and suffering might include depression, loss of mobility, and difficulty sleeping resulting from those broken bones or concussion.
In terms of calculating what damages for pain and suffering would be, fact finders (like judges and juries) typically have a great deal of leeway. The idea is to compensate the victim fairly for the pain and suffering, and fact finders may take various facts and information into consideration when attempting to evaluate that. For instance, they may consider whether the victim’s testimony is credible and the testimony they give makes sense and is not exaggerated and whether doctors can provide evidence of the victim’s injuries. If fact finders believe the victim may be giving dishonest or unbelievable testimony, may have injuries that aren’t as serious as the victim claimed, or made claims contrary to common sense, then they may be unlikely to award substantial damages to the plaintiff.
It’s important to note that damages awards for pain and suffering can be decreased if the victim engaged in certain types of behavior. After an accident, plaintiffs generally are expected to take reasonable steps to mitigate the damages inflicted upon them. That includes going for appropriate medical treatment to avoid their conditions worsening and avoiding activities that could further injure them. In some states, the law actually requires plaintiffs to try to mitigate their damages, and regardless, fact finders are unlikely to look favorably upon plaintiffs who sue to hold defendants responsible for their injuries without having taken their own steps to alleviate their suffering first.
While hopefully this post can help inform you about pain and suffering and its role in lawsuits, this issue is extremely nuanced and complex. If you are involved in a personal injury case, consider seeking professional representation. At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, Lawyers and Counselors at Law, we represent Tampa victims of injuries in a variety of cases. If you believe may have a personal injury claim for pain and suffering, either mental or physical, or for other damages, call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.