What Is Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case?
You have probably heard lawyers talk about “pain and suffering” when they are discussing an injury case. Although the term seems to be pretty straightforward, when it comes to its legal use, it can get somewhat complicated. After you are injured, there is no question that you are in pain or that you are suffering. In the legal world, compensation for your pain or your suffering is not automatic as there are specific criteria that must be met.
Physical pain is one of the easiest types to prove. In order to be compensated for it, you must have endured physical pain from an injury. You may also be eligible to collect compensation for pain you may suffer in the future. Physical pain includes any pain you feel from an injury, such as a broken bone, muscle strain or burn.
Because physical injuries are easier to diagnose than mental injuries, awarding compensation for the suffering is less difficult.
It is not unusual after a physical injury for someone to also have emotional difficulties. You may be distressed, fearful and angry. Your enjoyment of life may be less and you could suffer from anxiety. Even if you were not physically injured, you could still suffer mental pain, especially if you witnessed someone else get injured or even die. This can lead to depression, sexual dysfunction, mood swings, sleep disturbances or lack of energy. You could even be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental pain is more difficult to prove in some cases than physical pain as there is no actual injury to see.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
You may have been involved in a car accident where the other driver was intoxicated. In that accident, you suffered multiple broken bones and were unable to work for months. You became angry, depressed and had difficulty sleeping. Eventually, your doctor referred you to a counselor who diagnosed you with mental distress. In this instance, you are entitled to compensation for that mental anguish.
Now, suppose your injuries are less severe, such as a back strain. The accident occurred just a few days prior to a marathon you had been training to participate in for months. Because of the back injury, you could not run the marathon and you became angry, frustrated and depressed. The mental anguish was not severe enough to send you to a therapist, but it still could qualify you for compensation.
Multiplier Method of Calculation
One question often asked is what a judge or jury may award for this type of compensation. Many people believe that a “multiplier” is used, meaning the judge or jury will multiply the total medical bills and lost earnings with a random number.
Depending on the location, the multiplier may be between 1.5 and 4 times the damages. If your medical bills and lost wages total $10,000, the multiplier method would provide you with pain compensation of an additional $15,000 to $40,000. However, the multiplier method is a very rough estimate and does not apply to all cases.
There are many factors that go into the value of pain and suffering, including the likability, credibility, consistency and type of witness the plaintiff is. In addition, evidence and other witnesses can also have an impact on the amount awarded.
If you have suffered an injury and are in pain, contact Lundy Law today to learn what rights you may have. You can arrange for your initial consultation by calling 1-800-Lundy Law or by filling out the easy form on our website.