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What Is Pain and Suffering in a Lawsuit?

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What Is Pain and Suffering in a Lawsuit?

Filing a personal injury claim can be a complicated and stressful experience. You may not fully understand what type of compensation you’re entitled to and how much. In some states, monetary compensation for physical and mental pain and suffering is available. For victims, this feels fair and just. At Morgan & Morgan, we will do whatever we can to ensure you receive as much compensation as possible from your claim. We have been handling personal injury lawsuits for decades, and as the largest personal injury firm in America, we have the resources necessary to give you the best chance of success. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free consultation. 

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a common term that is used when discussing personal injury lawsuits or any type of civil claim. If you were injured or harmed and as a result of someone’s negligence have experienced mental or physical pain and suffering, you may be entitled to recover monetary compensation. Any pain you experience as a result of the incident that is substantial could qualify you for pain and suffering compensation. So what is pain and suffering in a lawsuit?

Types of Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering might sound like a simple phrase, but when it comes to civil claims, it can be a bit more complicated than it sounds. There are typically two primary categories of pain and suffering: physical and mental/emotional. 

Physical Pain 

Physical pain and suffering includes injuries to the body that cause pain and discomfort pain. In most cases, physical pain is visible on the plaintiff. For example, in car accidents, bruises and scrapes might be present. It’s also possible that a plaintiff will be in a cast due to broken bones. Some physical pain can be internal, though, such as concussions or other internal injuries.  

Mental Pain

Mental pain and suffering, unlike physical pain, cannot be seen on the plaintiff's body—there are no signs of bruises or cuts. However, mental pain and suffering can be diagnosed in the hospital or by a mental health professional. It’s possible for physical pain to be the source of mental anguish, but sometimes mental and emotional pain can be a result of just being involved in an accident or a frightening incident. Mental and emotional pain and suffering can be in the form of depression, mental anguish, emotional pain, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anger, humiliation, anxiety, shock, and more. 

Mental and emotional pain and suffering can manifest in several different ways. A victim may be unable to participate in activities they used to enjoy because of fear, anxiety, or depression. It’s not uncommon for a victim to experience mental and emotional pain based on activities they can no longer do because of their physical pain. For example, a victim of a car accident who experiences a spine injury may no longer be able to exercise or play sports. This can cause significant mental and emotional pain, not just physical pain. 

Examples of Physical Pain and Suffering

Physical pain and suffering sounds very straightforward, but it’s important to understand that it can cover an array of injuries. Knowing what constitutes physical pain and suffering can give you a better idea of whether you might have a valid claim. It goes beyond physical pain. Some of the most common types of physical pain and suffering include the following:

  • Physical Impairment. If physical injuries prevent you from engaging in certain activities, such as exercise, work, or spending time with your family, this qualifies as physical pain and suffering even once the pain of the injury is no longer present. 
  • Physical Pain. Physical pain refers to the actual pain you feel from an injury. This is separate from what that pain prevents you from doing or what it requires you to do. 
  • Disfigurement.  Even once your pain dissipates (assuming it does), you may still be left with permanent evidence of the injuries you suffered, such as scars, burns, or even lost limbs. In this case, you should certainly be entitled to compensation for physical pain and suffering. 

The above list is not exhaustive; there are many other scenarios in which you could experience physical pain and suffering. If you have questions about what you are entitled to or need help filing a claim, it’s always important to contact an experienced attorney right away.

Examples of Mental Pain and Suffering

Mental and emotional pain and suffering can occur as a result of any personal injury. For example, a victim who is injured in a car accident might suffer physical injuries, which could easily lead to mental and emotional injuries. It’s also possible for emotional and mental pain and suffering to result from the incident itself and not the physical injuries. This can manifest as PTSD symptoms, causing the victim to be in so much despair that they are unable to get in a car or drive on the highway again. 

Some of the most common examples of mental and emotional pain and suffering include the following:

  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life. After experiencing an injury, it’s not uncommon for the victim to be unable to enjoy and experience many of the things in life that they previously did. This might be a direct result of a physical injury. For example, broken bones or nerve pain prevent a person from ever being able to play a certain sport again. In addition to the physical pain and suffering, this leads to the emotional and mental pain and suffering of losing certain aspects of their lives, causing a loss of enjoyment of life. 
  • Loss of Quality of Life. This type of pain and suffering is very similar to the loss of enjoyment of life, but it often refers more to the disruption that the physical or mental injuries cause on a day-to-day basis. For example, a victim who has to seek treatment and attend excessive doctor’s appointments will not have the same quality of life that they had before they were injured. 
  • Depression and Anxiety. After someone is involved in an accident, it’s not uncommon for depression and anxiety to occur. This can occur as a result of physical injuries that prevent the victim from engaging in certain hobbies, or it can occur from simply being involved in the incident in the first place. 

It is important to realize that even minor physical injuries can lead to significant mental and emotional pain and suffering.

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  • How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

    There is no standard way that pain and suffering is calculated in a lawsuit. It is very individualized. However, there are common methods that are used throughout the country that help determine an appropriate amount of compensation. This means, though, that juries are not bound by any rule to calculate pain and suffering in a personal injury case. There are limits in many states on how much compensation can be awarded for pain and suffering, but that is something that the judge can address after the jury makes its decision. 

  • What is the Multiplier Method?

    The multiplier method is often used to attempt to calculate a fair amount for pain and suffering. This is used frequently by insurance companies as well. With the multiplier method, the victim’s actual damages are totaled and then multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. When choosing which number to use as the multiplier, the goal is to determine how significant the victim’s pain and suffering is. The more significant it is, the higher the multiplier will be. When there are significant physical injuries, such as broken bones, paralysis, or disfigurement, it’s likely that the multiplier will be very high. This is simply a way to try to calculate how much compensation a victim is entitled to. Most defense attorneys don’t use this calculation because it can end up being significantly less than what they and the victim truly think is warranted. 

  • How Do I Prove Pain and Suffering?

    Pain and suffering can be difficult to prove because it’s quite subjective. Some pain and suffering that comes from physical injuries is easy to prove through medical records, doctor’s notes, and pictures. It’s important to keep all records, take notes, and make sure you keep track of what you’ve spent due to the incident and what you’re no longer able to do currently and in the future. The following elements are some of the important aspects of proving pain and suffering:

    Credible Evidence of the Pain and Suffering

    In order to be successful in a pain and suffering claim, there must be credible evidence. Evidence can be a healed or healing scar or broken bones, a medical report of the injury, or footage that shows how the injury is caused (in case of physical injury). For mental and emotional pain and suffering, it can include notes and medical records from a treating psychiatrist or psychologist, explaining how the incident affected the victim and what their diagnoses are.

    Consistency of the Plaintiff’s Testimony

    It’s crucial that the testimony of the plaintiff is consistent regarding what injuries they suffered and how it is affecting them. Inconsistency in the statement could lead a judge or jury to believe that the plaintiff is giving false testimony. Many victims who suffer significant injuries don’t remember everything exactly how it happened, which can lead to confusing or inconsistent testimony. This is not atypical and can be explained by a medical expert if necessary. However, the more consistent and straightforward the testimony is, the more likely the judge and jury will believe the victim’s account of their suffering. 

    Expert Witness Testimony

    Part of proving that a victim is experiencing pain and suffering can come from credible expert witness testimony. This might come from a medical doctor who treated the victim’s injuries, or from a mental health professional who treated the victim’s emotional or mental suffering.

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan

    If you need help with a personal injury claim or have questions about types of compensation and how much you might be entitled to, Morgan & Morgan is always here to help. All our attorneys are well-versed in negotiating and litigating these claims, and we will do everything in our power to ensure you receive a just outcome. We have the resources of a large firm with the personability of a small one, so you’ll never get lost in the shuffle. We are always available to answer questions and keep you updated about the status of your claim. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free case evaluation. 

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