The physical pain associated with an injury can be extremely distressing, especially when that pain is intense, chronic, or impacts your ability to function.

If your pain and suffering is associated with an injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you could have legal recourse. Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic loss that you can seek compensation for in a lawsuit. There are several types of losses that could be considered under the scope of ‘pain and suffering’ damages, and calculating the value of these losses will likely prove challenging. Consulting with an attorney is usually the best way to navigate the complexities of filing for pain and suffering during a claim.

Defining Pain and Suffering in Legal Terms

The basic pain and suffering meaning in legal terms is that it is a type of compensation award that an injured party can seek during a personal injury claim. Damages for pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage. While you can seek compensation for these types of losses, it’s much more difficult to value and prove losses like pain and suffering.

Types of Pain and Suffering

‘Pain and suffering’ is a broad term that encompasses many types of discomfort or stress you might endure after an injury. It includes the mental and emotional suffering you experience as a direct result of the physical sensations from your condition and injury, as well as the physical sensations that prevent you from living your best life. Here are just a few examples of things you might experience that could be considered pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit:

  • emotional stress;
  • depression;
  • scarring;
  • mental trauma;
  • emotional trauma;
  • physical limitations;
  • embarrassment.

These types of losses are typically considered ‘general damages’ or ‘non-economic damages’ in a personal injury claim. Proving some of these losses is a bit trickier because there may not be hard evidence that can convey the levels of your emotional distress or mental trauma, for example. In these situations, your lawyer may opt to bring in a mental health expert to testify on your behalf, or they may work on building a strong narrative that outlines your story and highlights the impact your injuries are having on your overall well-being.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Legal Claims

Calculating the value of your pain and suffering isn’t straightforward. Since there isn’t an actual monetary value attached to these injuries, courtrooms have a unique way of valuing them. First, you’ll need to calculate your economic damages. Add up all the financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of your accident and injuries. This can include things like your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more. The total sum of these damages will be considered your economic damages.

From there, you’ll want to compile strong evidence to show the severity and impact of your pain and suffering. Courts will analyze this evidence and assign your pain and suffering a value that usually ranges from 1.5 to 5. This number is then multiplied by the sum of the economic damages to determine the value of your pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.

This is the most common approach to calculating pain and suffering damages, but some courts do leverage other methods. Another common strategy is called the Per Diem method. This way of calculating pain and suffering takes into account the pain that will be experienced by the injured person every day until they reach maximum medical improvement. A reasonable dollar amount is assigned to each day.

Legal Challenges in Proving Pain and Suffering

The term ‘pain and suffering’ may seem like legal jargon for those not familiar with personal injury claims, but it describes actual losses experienced by the victim that should be compensated. The thing that makes these damages so controversial is because they are very difficult to prove and value.

Punitive damages are another type of award that isn’t meant to compensate the injured party but to penalize and punish the responsible party. When a victim’s pain and suffering is intense or heightened as a result of the other party’s actions, then it might give rise to punitive damages, especially if the suffering is extreme.

The Role of Attorneys in Pain and Suffering Claims

If you plan on pursuing pain and suffering damages, then it’s often best to consult with an attorney before presenting your case. The right attorney will help you build up your case with evidence, statements from expert witnesses, and more to bolster your claim. This step is important since proving pain and suffering damages is difficult. An attorney will also advise you on what they estimate your pain and suffering is worth. It’s important to have an estimate in mind before negotiations so you don’t wind up accepting a settlement that doesn’t fully consider the extent of your pain and suffering.

Glossary References

Economic Damages: This type of compensation is awarded when an injured party provides proof of financial loss in a personal injury claim.

Pain and Suffering: A type of non-economic compensation award available in some personal injury claims.

Personal Injury Claim: A legal claim that arises when one party has a legal duty to provide for the care of another party and they fail to do so. This negligence leads to legal liability.

Ray Kermani
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