If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or careless
actions, you probably know you can file a personal injury lawsuit against
him or her to recover damages. While most are familiar with economic damages,
such as medical costs, lost wages, loss of work, and other tangible losses,
not as many are familiar with non-economic damages. Non-economic damages
are typically referred to as pain and suffering and are not as easy to
calculate as economic damages. Here is what you need to know about this
important element in your personal injury case.
Pain and Suffering
The law recognizes two types of pain and suffering – physical and mental.
Physical Pain & Suffering: This refers to the injured party’s actual physical injuries their
resulting pain and discomfort. It also includes the effects the plaintiff
is likely to suffer in the future as a result of the injuries caused by
Mental Pain & Suffering: This refers to the emotional by-product of a plaintiff’s physical
injuries. It encompasses a wide range of adverse emotions such as mental
anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anger, humiliation,
anxiety, and shock. It is essentially any form of non-physical pain suffered
by an accident victim as a direct result of having to endure both the
trauma and physical pain of the accident.
In serious cases, severe forms of mental pain might include depression,
loss of appetite, lack of energy, sexual dysfunction, mood swings, sleep
disturbances, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It does
not only include a victim’s present state of anguish, but the mental
pain he or she is likely to continue to endure in the future.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
Car accidents are some of the most common personal injury cases. Serious
accidents can often cause life-altering injuries. Imagine someone got
into a car accident, which resulted in multiple broken bones and a severe
traumatic brain injury. Due to these terrible injuries, the victim became
depressed and angry, developed a sleep disorder, and a substantial loss
of appetite, which led to an alarmingly rapid drop in weight. To address
these problems, the injured victim received a referral to a psychologist
and a therapist. He or she would be entitled to compensation for the mental
pain and suffering experienced in the aftermath of the accident, which
ultimately required professional help.
Mental pain and suffering can sometimes be so unbearable that it keeps
an individual from returning to work, even once the physical injuries
have healed. Trauma is not as easy to mend as broken bones, so the process
can take much longer. If you had to miss work due to depression, trauma,
or other mental pain and suffering caused by the accident, you can claim
damages for this.
However, you do not need to be on the verge of a mental breakdown to be
able to recover damages for pain and suffering. For example, imagine someone
was involved in a minor car accident and suffered from back strain as
a result, preventing him or her from exercising. Unfortunately, the injured
victim had been training to run a marathon for months, and could no longer
participate in it, resulting in frustration, anger, discontent, and even
some minor depression. The injured party is not in need of mental health
assistance, but the effects of the injury still caused pain and suffering.
Compensation will not be as substantial as it would be in the previous
example, but it still qualifies for some damage recovery.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
Juries are not provided much in the way of guidelines when it comes to
determining the value of damages for pain and suffering in personal injury
lawsuits. Judges generally leave it up to a jury to be reasonable and
use good sense, background, and experience in reaching a fair figure to
compensate a victim.
It is possible for a multiplier, which is a number between 1.5 and 4, to
be used to determine this figure. This number would be multiplied by the
value of economic damages to reach a calculation for pain and suffering.
Still, there are other factors to consider in personal injury cases, including:
- The effectiveness of the plaintiff as a witness
- The likeability of the plaintiff
- The credibility of the plaintiff
- The consistency of the plaintiff’s testimony with his or her injuries
- If the claims of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering seem exaggerated
- If the plaintiff’s physician supports his or her claims of pain and suffering
- If the plaintiff has a criminal record
- If the plaintiff’s diagnosis, injuries, and claims make sense to the jury
North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have been hurt by another party’s reckless actions, you might
be entitled to compensation for your injuries, damages, and other losses
caused by the accident. At Twiggs, Strickland & Rabenau, we have seen
firsthand how devastating accident-related injuries can be for victims
and their families. Some individuals might suffer from permanent and debilitating
injuries that result in a loss of work or the ability to function on a
daily basis without assistance.
Our Durham personal injury attorneys have good standing in the legal profession
and local community, given our honorable reputation and the effort we
devote to our clients. With our proven track record of success, you can
be confident in our ability to effectively fight for the compensation
you deserve to move forward with your recovery and your life.
Contact us today at
919.701.8132 to schedule a consultation.