If you’ve ever watched a civil court case on television or followed one in the news, you’ve probably heard of money being awarded for “pain and suffering”. You may be wondering how someone arrives at a dollar amount for suffering. This can be one of the most complicated aspects of an injury case. Let’s dig a little deeper:
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering fall into two categories: physical and mental. In most states, these are referred to as “general damages.”
Physical pain refers to not only the injuries you’ve faced to-date, but also the effects you’ll likely be enduring in the future.
Mental pain is often a by-product of the bodily injuries or the trauma of the accident itself. It can include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, fear, humiliation, anxiety, shock, and grief. If your mental distress is severe, it might lead to depression, lack of energy, anger, sexual dysfunction, issues sleeping, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Again, this also includes pain the claimant will likely feel in the future.
It’s Not Easy to Prove
Whereas you can see damage on a vehicle or the concrete cost of medical bills, ongoing pain and suffering are less obvious to outsiders, making them difficult to express in dollars and cents.
Even if a doctor can list symptoms like inflammation and limited range of motion, it’s not easy for anyone besides you to fully understand how severe your pain is. When we can see the injury, it’s easier for us to recognize how much suffering it is causing.
So, an injury like a broken bone that requires ongoing treatment, surgery, and even instrumentation like pins and screws is often more obviously painful to an outsider than a soft tissue injury. But anyone who has experienced a sprained ankle knows that although damages do not show up on muscles, ligament, or tendons, the pain is still incredibly severe.
Additionally, because pain and suffering also takes mental distress into account, it can be hard to place a monetary value on your general damages as a whole.
Working with a personal injury lawyer will help you receive the compensation you deserve for the discomfort you are living with.
Your Personal Injury Case and Insurance Companies
Insurance companies handling your case assume that if you did not seek healthcare, you’re likely not suffering from pain. For this reason, it’s important that you seek medical treatment immediately. Even if it’s for a soft tissue injury, your doctor can still provide vital documentation of your pain by taking notes on the suffering you describe to him or her.
The insurance company will review medical records, bills, prescription records, photos of your injury, and documentation from your employer listing any time you were out of work. Be sure to hold onto these types of documents and share them with your personal injury lawyer to guarantee you are awarded appropriate compensation.