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Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Lawsuits

There are many elements to a personal injury lawsuit, including holding responsible parties accountable for lost wages, medical bills, and more intangible damages like pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are compensatory damages a victim can recover to try to adjust their life as much as possible back to what it would have been like if the accident had not happened.

Pain and suffering can include everything from trauma due to loss of limb to knowing you’ll never get to hug your spouse again.  Pain and suffering awards may contemplate awarding a Plaintiff financial damages for physical injury, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional anguish and loss, stress, heartbreak, and lifelong psychological suffering.

But how do you calculate the “worth” of pain and suffering damages? How do you prove it? Are they taxable? Below are answers to commonly asked questions about pain and suffering.

What are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Damages are a sum of money that the injured party (the Plaintiff) requests from the liable party (the Defendant) to help them make up for loss and make their lives whole again. Economic and non-economic are two types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Economic damages impact a victim’s monetary means; for example, a loss in wages, mounting medical bills, or valuable property. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more intangible, like a person’s loss of enjoyment of life.

Pain and suffering damages are non-economic compensatory damages. This means they are noneconomic damages that occur in addition to economic damages like lost wages and medical bills. “Pain and suffering” refers to the trauma, anguish, inconvenience, and stress that a victim and their loved ones can experience following an accident.  Each type of pain and suffering needs to be accounted for, and the severity of each should be determined.

Can I Receive Pain and Suffering Damages if I am in an Accident?

Yes. Pain and suffering damages stem from injuries caused by an accident, so it is often applied to litigation involving vehicle collisions, construction site accidents, slip and fall accidents, and any other situation in which your quality of life has been impacted by an accident.

Accidents often involve serious bodily injury. Any kind of medical treatment needed following an accident should be factored into your pain and suffering lawsuit. In addition to physical pain, your mental and emotional suffering is part of the trauma of the accident and someone should be held responsible.

The mental and emotional trauma of an accident can also adversely affect your quality of life. This needs to be accounted for, as you would not have this trauma if the accident had never happened. Fear, anxiety, flashbacks, and anger can all stem from a traumatic event. These can limit your ability to function every day, and thus you should be compensated for having to endure this suffering.

Even what might seem like a “minor” accident can have serious repercussions on the spine, neck, and head of a victim. If you have been in an accident, seek immediate medical attention. An MRI and other tests can reveal injuries that you may not have been aware of at the time of the accident due to shock. For instance, bulging and herniated discs in the spinal column are often undetected at the scene of an accident but can be the cause of lifelong pain and suffering.

Types of Pain and Suffering Damages

This is a simple list of pain and suffering damages, sorted by physical and emotional impacts that can commonly occur for the victim of an accident. Click here for a description of each type of pain and suffering damages.

Physical Pain and Suffering Damages

  • Physical Pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical Impairment
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Loss of limb

Emotional Pain and Suffering Damages

  • Mental Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
  • Loss of Quality of Life
  • Mortification
  • Indignity
  • Embarrassment
  • Apprehension
  • Terror
  • Ordeal
  • Inconvenience
  • Fright
  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Nervousness
  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Humiliation
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of Companionship
  • Damage to Reputation

If you think you have experienced any of these types of pain and suffering, take notes and inform your attorney.

How Do I Prove a Pain and Suffering Claim?

Key evidence can help prove the emotional distress and medical treatments that you have had to endure as the result of an accident. Your attorney can advise on the types of evidence that will assist in proving your pain and suffering claim, and how you can work together to collect those documents.

Evidence of physical injuries can include:

  • Hospital and medical records
  • Photographic and video evidence
  • Record of surgery
  • X-rays
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Before-and-after evidence of physical activity
  • Physical therapist records and notes
  • Texts, emails, social media posts
  • Witness testimony from the accident

Mental and emotional injuries often stem from physical injuries, so evidence for physical injuries can contribute to the body of evidence that supports emotional and psychological suffering.

Evidence of emotional and psychological suffering can include:

  • Texts, emails, social media posts
  • Testimony from coworkers, friends, and family
  • A record of hobbies, activities, and sports enjoyed before the accident
  • Therapist notes
  • Journal entries
  • Record of time lost at work
  • Record of ability to care for others
  • Testimony and records from care givers

What is a Pain and Suffering Multiplier?

Pain and suffering damages can be calculated using something called a “pain and suffering multiplier.” Basically, this multiplier considers the impact that the accident has had on your life and multiplies it on a scale from 1.5 to 5. Factors that impact your multiplier can include ongoing medical care, loss of companionship, and changes to quality of life.

Your attorney should also advise you on how the multiplier scale works, and help you navigate the paperwork involved. This is just one of the reasons a skilled attorney is so important to the litigation process. They know all the ins-and-outs of how pain and suffering is calculated, and what you’ll need to prove the severity of your injuries.

A skilled attorney can guide you through the process, navigating the difficult hurdles of insurance company paperwork and the court system. Your attorney should not only litigate for you, but also be an advocate for collecting all the pieces of your story. With every piece of evidence, your attorney can build a case for compensation that will aid in adjusting to a different quality of life.

Legal Help for Pain and Suffering

Accident victims should have the best legal representation possible to help them recover compensation. With a qualified lawyer on your side, you will know exactly how to present your case to prove liability and damages, including pain and suffering damages. If you or someone you know has been injured, call the personal injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy. We have recovered over $1.5 billion in compensation for our clients. Select personal injury results include:

  • $110,174,972 for a cyclist who was biking near a construction site and was struck by a falling railroad tie
  • $32,756,156 for a 60-year-old Vietnam Veteran who was struck by a car while helping victims in an unrelated vehicle accident
  • $22,500,000 for a man who suffered injuries to his left arm and elbow during a violent head-on car collision
  • $20,181,484 for a man in a collision caused by icy road conditions which caused him to lose the use of his arm

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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