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Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering damages refers to the compensation due to physical, emotional, and psychological pains that a victim experiences after an accident. While economic damages have to do with money directly lost as a result of the accident, pain and suffering damages are compensatory damages that target the anguish a victim would not have experienced if the accident had never happened. There are many types of pain and suffering damages, including loss of companion, humiliation, and loss of quality of life.

Since pain and suffering damages vary in type and severity for each victim, the victim and their attorneys must examine each area of pain and suffering and determine the severity of each. The attorney will then surface evidence of each point of pain and suffering to present to a judge or jury. Each point may include a multiplier to assist in determining the amount of each type of pain and suffering (this calculation is explained below). The court will decide on the appropriate amount of compensation based on the evidence provided.

Pain and suffering damages are an important part of a victim’s case because they should not have had to experience the stress, pain, and mental anguish at all. As a victim, they will carry the memories, and sometimes the pain, with them for the rest of their lives.

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Pain and suffering aren’t damages always apparent on the surface. There is no precise dollar amount determined for trauma, pain, loss of hope or sadness. How do you measure the amount of grief or anguish someone has experienced? Since pain and suffering are subjective, an experienced accident lawyer will use objective evidence to prove injury, loss, and suffering. This is what the judge or jury will use to make a reasonable judgement on the value of the subjective pain and suffering.

Depending on your state, there could be a cap on how much a victim can collect for pain and suffering damages. This means there is a maximum amount that can be awarded, regardless of the extreme severity of pain and suffering. At the time of publication, eleven states cap pain and suffering damages:

  1. Alaska
  2. Colorado
  3. Hawaii
  4. Idaho
  5. Kansas
  6. Maryland
  7. Mississippi
  8. Ohio
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Oregon
  11. Tennessee

Types of Pain and Suffering Damages

Physical Pain
The most obvious source of pain is physical. From severe injuries that need immediate medical attention to minor pain that seems inconsequential, physical pain should be taken seriously, as it could last a lifetime or lead to complications down the road. Accident victims often do not experience pain immediately following an accident, particularly injuries to the spine like hemorrhaged discs. Every instance of physical pain could lead to other pain and suffering damages.

A person’s face and body are an important part of their identity. Aside from the actual physical pain of the accident, an injury that disfigures a victim’s face and body can cause a lifetime of mental anguish. Disfigured victims may not be able to look in the mirror without experiencing stress, they may not feel comfortable in their own skin, and their personal relationships could suffer.

Physical Impairment
Some injuries could leave a victim unable to lead their lives as they did before the accident. This could mean a total loss of a hobby, sport, or way of life. They could be unable to care for their own children or go to the bathroom by themselves. The sadness, disappointment, and regret involved can lead to depression and a breakdown of relationships in the victim’s life as they become restricted from participating in activities that they once relied on to fulfill their quality of life.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Every human has the right to enjoy life on earth. An accident victim could lose the ability to enjoy life in the manner they did before the accident happened. From physical impairment to traumatic stress, the pain and suffering incurred as a result of the accident could prevent a victim from enjoying the life they used to live.

Loss of Quality of Life
Quality of life indicates a change in the quality of living that a victim experiences every day. They may experience incontinence after an accident, be suddenly wheelchair bound, or have lost the ability to live by themselves.

Trauma from the event
Even if an accident victim emerges physically unscathed from an accident, the sheer trauma of the event can cause serious psychological issues. These could include a fear of returning to work, intolerance for loud noises, or other trauma that triggers memories of the accident.

Shock Following the Accident
Human bodies use shock as a mechanism to help us get through stressful situations, but the effect of shock can lead to trauma and the development of triggers to similar situations later in life.

We should not have to experience fear in our daily lives. When an accident occurs, fear can saturate our senses to make a bad situation even worse. Feelings of terror would not have happened if the accident had never occurred.

Shame, Humiliation, and Embarrassment
The circumstances of an accident, or the resulting physical injuries, could leave a victim feeling shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. This can lead the victim to avoid certain activities and to question their worth and identity.

Mental Suffering
The deep sadness and trauma following an accident can compound into mental suffering and stress. This can lead to new complications like loss of sleep, anxiety, and depression. These then lead to more stress, creating a vicious cycle of mental suffering.

Loss of Companionship
Losing a spouse or partner is devastating, forever changing two lives. The grief and lasting mental anguish caused by losing a companion should be considered as pain and suffering damages.

Deep anger over the events of an accident can stay with the victim. Sudden outbursts, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive tendencies can take over a victim’s life. Anger management can require years of therapy and should be accounted for as pain and suffering damages.

Sexual Dysfunction
Whether caused by physical injuries or mental suffering from an accident, sexual dysfunction can impact a victim’s enjoyment of life. The inability to participate in sex can lead to the loss of companionship, loneliness, and loss of self-worth.

An accident can fully change how a person thinks about themselves and the world around them. The trauma of the experience or serious injuries can leave a victim feeling depressed and unmotivated. Depression can severely affect personal relationships, work, and self-care.

Nervousness and Anxiety
Anxiety following an accident is common. This can manifest as a feeling of being on-edge or unable to cope with seemingly “normal” situations that were easy before the accident.

Those in mourning face the tragedy of grieving a loved one for the rest of their lives. Grief is painful, depressing, and should be considered as pain and suffering damages. Some states recognize this and offer compensation for mental pain and suffering following the death of a loved one. Other states, like New York, are limited to pain and suffering damages that the loved one would have experienced before death.

Legal Help for Accident Victims

Have you or someone you love experienced pain and suffering due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence? With a skilled lawyer on your side, you can hold the negligent party responsible and recover compensation for your pain and suffering and other damages. If you or someone you know has been injured, tell us about it. The personal injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have recovered over $1.5 billion in compensation for our clients.

Select results include:

  • $110,174,972 for a cyclist who was paralyzed when struck by falling railroad tie construction.
  • $32,756,156 for a pedestrian who was injured while assisting victims in an unrelated vehicle accident.
  • $22,500,000 for a man who suffered severe elbow injuries in a head-on vehicle crash on an icy roadway.
  • $20,181,484 for a man who was in a vehicle collision due to icy road conditions resulting in permanent loss of use of his arm.
  • $15,000,000 for the family of an HVAC technician who lost his life when he was crushed by a 28,450-pound air chiller when the chain holding it broke.

Call 212-736-5300 for a free consultation or fill out our online contact form. We serve New York and New Jersey.

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