Pain and Suffering: What Is It In Personal Injury Litigation And How Does It Affect Your Personal Injury Case

Posted By Michael R. Varble || 26-Nov-2013

In today's blog post, I discuss the concept of pain and suffering and how it affects your personal injury case. Pain and suffering is a legal concept that lawyers use in personal injury litigation when discussing damages to a plaintiff in the context of a personal injury case. We lawyers, when we use this phrase, are talking about what is probably the largest component of a recovery in a personal injury case. Juries are instructed that, if they decide that a defendant is liable to a plaintiff, the plaintiff is entitled to recover a sum of money which will justly and fairly compensate the plaintiff for any injury and conscious pain and suffering caused by the defendant. If there is an issue regarding the plaintiff's awareness, juries are instructed that conscious pain and suffering is pain and suffering where there is some level of awareness.

There are circumstances, with multiple defendants where a jury can award different amounts against different defendants. A plaintiff, through their lawyer, must establish a causal connection to establish liability and this is normally done with medical testimony. The accident does not need to be the exclusive cause of the injuries but only a competent producing cause. Moreover, an accident that produces injuries by speeding up the development of a latent condition or aggravating a pre-existing condition may be considered a cause of the plaintiff's injuries. What does all of this mean ? You, as a plaintiff through your lawyer, have to show that the defendant blowing through a red light and smashing into the side of your car caused your leg fracture. You also have to show, if you had previously suffered a neck injury, that the herniated discs in your neck that showed up on an MRI film after the car accident I just mentioned, were not as severe prior to the accident. This is known as an aggravation of a pre-existing injury.

You, as a plaintiff, may also be compensated for any form of permanency associated with your injury or for future pain and suffering if there is evidence of this. Normally, this type of information will be contained in your medical records and/or will be testified to by your doctor at the time of trial. Plaintiffs may also recover for emotional reactions to injuries as well. What does this mean ? If you have suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the car accident that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a jury can compensate your for this element of damage as well. What you will need to show for this is that you actually underwent treatment with a mental health professional like a psychologist or a psychiatrist and that you were diagnosed with PTSD. Normally, people need to participate in therapy for a significant period of time and the use of anti-anxiety medication or other psychotropic medication will assist in this type of claim as well.

Damages for pain and suffering are non-economic in nature. Economic damages are items like lost earnings and what we lawyers refer to as special or consequential damages such as out of pocket medical expenses and any other expense that results of being injured. A jury, when considering non-economic damages may properly consider plaintiff's loss of enjoyment of life. The loss of enjoyment of life encompasses the loss or diminished capacity of a plaintiff to participate in the activities which were part of the person's life before the injury and to experience the pleasures of life. A plaintiff has to be aware of the loss of enjoyment to recover for this element of pain and suffering. What does this mean in practical terms ? A plaintiff that is placed into a comma as a result of a traumatic injury and has no responsiveness really cannot be said to experience a loss of enjoyment of life. The plaintiff's lawyer has to show that there was some ability by the plaintiff to perceive what happened to him or her and understand that they have suffered the loss.

So what should you, our readers take from this information ? Pain and suffering is often the largest component of a personal injury case. It is also one that is difficult for a layperson, someone without legal training, to determine. It involves a number of factors like mental anguish, pain, loss of the ability to enjoy life and, possibly, future pain, suffering and mental anguish.

As I always say, I hope you and those that you love do not have to be a plaintiff in a personal injury case. However, I know that people do get injured and do suffer as a result of other people's negligence. If you find yourself in need of a personal injury lawyer, please give us a call at 1.800.900.6204 for a free consultation and a free case evaluation. The attorneys at Michael R. Varble & Associates have over 150 years of combined experience and we will fight for you.

Categories: Personal Injury

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