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 the defendant.
- 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 Attorney
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 The Law Office of Donald R Strickland, 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 attorney has 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.