What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Many people know enough to associate pain and suffering with personal injury claims and lawsuits. However, the legal perspective applied by an accident attorney differentiates physical from mental pain and suffering. The way an attorney approaches this legal concept affects how injury-related insurance claims and lawsuits are calculated.
The two types are defined as follows:
- Physical: The pain and suffering caused by injuries such as wounds, broken bones, whiplash, and other physical trauma. Also included are the short- and long-term effects caused by the injuries and the defendant’s negligence, in addition to the physical pain and discomfort the plaintiff must endure.
- Mental: The mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress caused by physical injuries. Compensation for mental pain and suffering can also include anxiety, humiliation, fear, shock, and anger. Severe depression, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be factored in too.
Both types of damages consider the pain and suffering experienced up to the claim date as well as that which the plaintiff is likely to continue experiencing.
A Closer Look at Pain and Suffering
Car accidents often result in severe injuries. A personal injury victim who experiences pain and suffering might have broken bones and/or a concussion. These are difficult injuries to recover from and can cause psychological symptoms such as depression, anger, and loss of appetite. If a psychologist or therapist, or both, provide a diagnosis, the individual can be entitled to compensation for mental pain and suffering. In severe cases, depression can prevent a victim from returning to work even after they have healed.
However, mental pain and suffering can manifest in other, less serious ways. A back injury sustained in a car accident can prohibit exercise during the healing process. You might miss out on exercising to prepare for an event such as a bicycle race or weightlifting competition. Naturally, this can leave you frustrated, angry, or depressed. Although minor by comparison, these impacts still qualify as mental pain and suffering you may be entitled to financial compensation for.
How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?
Pain and suffering are quantified differently than compensatory damages. A jury in a personal injury lawsuit has few guidelines to consider; there is no official chart nor does a judge typically issue specific orders. Rather, juries are instructed to determine a fair and reasonable amount based on their best judgment.
A multiplier is sometimes used in personal injury cases to calculate pain and suffering. This might be a multiple of the plaintiff’s medical bills and lost earnings, often an estimate determined by multiplying special damages by a factor of 1.5 to 4. But multipliers don’t apply to every personal injury case; they’re most often suited for minor cases with damages totaling less than $50,000.
Applying pain and suffering to a personal injury case also depends on the plaintiff’s:
- Credibility as a witness
- Consistency in testimony
- Honesty about the scope of their injuries
- Claim and whether it makes sense to a jury
- Criminal status
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Whether you qualify for pain and suffering or not, a personal injury lawsuit can take time. Lawsuit funding can help you pay for medical bills and daily expenses while you wait for a decision. For non-recourse legal funding with no upfront costs, apply now and our team will discuss the case with your attorney to make an offer in as little as 24 hours. Submit your application online or call us at 310-424-5176 for more information.