Pain and Suffering Laws
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
In a lawsuit, pain and suffering refers to a form of damages that are awarded to a plaintiff who has experienced some sort of mental or physical pain as a result of their injury. The damages may be considered as part of the "general damages" that are part of the plaintiff’s claim. Alternatively, they can be classified according to "compensatory damages" that are unrelated to the economic losses suffered by the plaintiff.
What Are Some Examples of Pain and Suffering?
The term "pain and suffering" can include many symptoms. In general, it refers to any pain or discomfort that is felt in connection with the original injury.
For instance, a person may have received a broken arm as a result of the defendant’s wrongdoing. However, they may also experiencing emotional trauma from the incident. They may be entitled to pain and suffering if there is a sufficient amount of connection between the person’s emotional trauma and the defendant’s actions.
Pain and suffering is also commonly awarded when the plaintiff is experiencing:
- Aches or pains in the body
- Depression, mental strain, or other emotional trauma and scarring
- Potential shortening of life
- Feelings of loss associated with the death of a loved one
- Temporary or permanent limitations on personal activities and endeavors
When am I Entitled to Damages for Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering damages can sometimes be difficult to calculate. This is because a person's pain and suffering is very subjective. Since it is not directly associated with medical bills or lost wages, it cannot be easily calculated into number in the same way that economic losses or medical expenses can be. It is often necessary to hire an expert witness to testify as to a plaintiff’s experience.
When awarding damages for pain and suffering, a court will usually base the amount on several factors including:
- The type of injury sustained
- The duration and severity of the pain
- Whether the plaintiff had any preexisting conditions
- The effect of the injuries on your enjoyment of life (i.e., it interferes with work or hobbies)
- Potential problems that may arise in the future in connection with the pain and suffering
- The actual evidence that you are able to provide in support of your claims
Are There Limits on the Amount Damages for Pain and Suffering That I Can Receive?
According to the Constitution, there are no limits on the amount of damages for pain and suffering that one can receive. However, due to economic concerns, about half of the states have implemented some sort of restriction on pain and suffering awards. Some states place an absolute ceiling on the monetary award, such as a limit of $800,000.
Other states calculate the limit based on the amount of economic damages the plaintiff will receive. An example of this is a limit of 3 times the amount of economic damages received. In any case, pain and suffering damages usually require that the plaintiff first prove that they have incurred some amount of economic loss.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Disputes Involving Pain and Suffering?
If you have suffered some sort of physical or economic loss, you should consult with lawyer if you believe that you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you prepare your claim and determine what’s right for you. Also, they will be able to answer any questions you might have regarding individual state policies on pain and suffering awards.
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Last Modified: 11-25-2013 10:20 AM PST
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