Pain and suffering damages, unlike economic damages such as medical bills, are subjective. It’s up to the jury in a personal injury trial, and one jury might come up with a completely different number than another jury. It’s especially difficult in these situations to give a client a guess as to how much their case is worth.
There are different types of pain and suffering to consider. Physical pain is one kind of pain for which you can seek compensation from the defendant. To prove physical pain, your attorney will rely on medical records, the testimony of a medical expert and testimony from you, as well. Family and friends also might testify about what they observe about you and how it’s different from what you were like prior to the injury.
Another type of pain and suffering is mental and emotional. Mental and emotional pain or anguish is common after a traumatic incident, such as a serious car accident. The person involved may be fearful or full of anxiety, and they might be afraid to travel in a car. Injuries from the accident also can cause emotional suffering, especially if those injuries are debilitating, permanent and/or obvious, such as scarring or amputation. Depression is common, as well.
In addition to explaining the type of suffering that the injured person is experiencing, an attorney will explain to the jury how it will have an impact on their life, now and in the future. Effects range from shortened lifespan and physical limitations to unemployment and depression. There is no formula for measuring pain and suffering and putting it into a dollar amount. An experienced and aggressive attorney will know how to explain it to the jury in a way they will understand.
Proving the extent of your pain and suffering – physical and emotional – is extremely important in a personal injury case. Doing this well is key to being fully compensated for all of the harm caused by the defendant. Your life has likely changed significantly. Take care to find an attorney who not only has years of experience in these cases but has had a lot of success, as well.
Written by Michael Helfand