How Is “Pain and Suffering” Defined in a Personal Injury Case?

After a personal injury case, injured parties have the right to receive economic compensation, such as medical bills and time spent out of work. Noneconomic damages better known as “pain and suffering” may also be awarded to them. Pain and suffering can be mental or physical.

Mental physical pain describes any negative emotion that an individual may suffer after an accident such as mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, or shock. Physical pain and suffering describes the pain of actual physical injuries sustained. This can include future pain associated with those injuries. Pain and suffering can be difficult to define and assess, but in a personal injury case, it is very valuable to you.

Measuring Pain and Suffering

There is no science behind measuring pain and suffering. The court typically expects the jury to use good sense. Some have used a ‘multiplier’ to determine the numerical value of pain and suffering, which is usually some multiple of the individual’s medical bills. Other factors used to quantify pain and suffering are:

  • The type of medical treatment prescribed
  • Medications prescribed
  • The duration of time of the pain and suffering

Compensation for pain and suffering can include the cost of slings and braces used for an injury, cost of medications prescribed, and if the injuries cause long-term disability or disfigurement, compensation can be awarded for either emotional suffering or medical bills, or both. Several other factors go into calculating pain and suffering such as, if the plaintiff is credible, likable, what their diagnosis is, and whether they have a criminal background.

Limitations of Pain and Suffering

Most states define their own specific laws on the extent of pain and suffering. For example, in Tennessee non-economic damages are capped at $750,000. In the event of catastrophic injuries such as amputations, spinal injuries, burns, or wrongful death of a parent to a minor, the cap is $1 million. You can be sure that the courts will determine if the plaintiff is exaggerating their claims and receive testimony from the individual themselves and their physician. If the individual lies about any aspect, pain and suffering compensation will not be awarded.

Examples of Pain and Suffering

A few broken bones and a concussion from a personal injury case are serious injuries. However, other types of pain and suffering ensue, as well. Medical injuries lead to substantial medical bills, but people generally do not consider how depression and anger can arise following these types of injuries. Depression and anger could then cause a lack of sleep or loss of appetite, to which the claimant may seek professional therapy. Mental pain, in addition to physical injuries, may result in time spent out of work as injuries heal, resulting in an additional loss of income. This is also a direct result of the accident and personal injuries. All of the ensuing expenses resulting from the initial injury can be defined under pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering in a personal injury case exists to protect and aid the injured individual as much as possible. When an individual claims pain and suffering, courts will go to great lengths to ensure that pain and suffering is valid and justifiable. If you were involved in a pain and suffering case, you would want the same benefits awarded to you.