If you were involved in a car accident and sustained injuries, you might be considering a personal injury claim. As you go through this process, you will find that you are entitled to pursue not only compensation for your medical costs and lost wages, but for your pain and suffering as well. What is considered pain and suffering in such a claim? We will define what these terms mean in a personal injury case and how it can impact the value of your claim.
Pain and Suffering
In a personal injury case, there are two main types of pain and suffering – physical and mental.
- Physical pain and suffering: This refers to the pain caused by the plaintiff’s physical injuries. Physical pain and suffering covers both the pain and discomfort caused by the injuries to date and the detrimental effects he or she will likely continue to suffer in the future as a result of the accident.
- Mental pain and suffering: This refers to the mental by-products of a plaintiff’s injuries. Mental pain and suffering includes anxiety, shock, mental anguish, emotional distress, fear, anger, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life. It is essentially any negative emotion a victim might suffer as a result of the accident. In more severe cases, mental pain and suffering could also include depression, loss of appetite, sexual dysfunction, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Like physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering include both present and future mental pain.
Calculating Mental Pain and Suffering
Juries are generally not given much in the way of guidelines when it comes to determining the value of pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, judges advise jurors to use their common sense, the facts of the case, and experience in order to determine a fair and reasonable figure for a plaintiff.
Some of the factors that can affect the value of pain and suffering in a personal injury case include:
- The likeability of the plaintiff
- The credibility of the plaintiff
- Whether or not the plaintiff is a good witness
- The consistency of a plaintiff’s testimony regarding his or her injuries
- Whether or not it seems the plaintiff is exaggerating his or her claims of pain and suffering
- If the plaintiff’s physician supports his or her claims of pain and suffering
- Whether or not the jury believes the plaintiff lied about anything, regardless of how minor it might have been
- The plaintiff’s criminal record
Examples of Pain and Suffering
An example of a more severe case would be if someone got into a car accident that resulted in several broken bones and a concussion. Due to these serious injuries, the plaintiff became depressed, angry, developed a sleep disorder, and a dramatic loss of appetite. The plaintiff was referred to a psychologist and a therapist to address these problems, which are all related to the accident. In this case, the plaintiff would likely be entitled to compensation for mental pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering can sometimes be so great that they become debilitating and prevent the victim from returning to work even once the physical injuries have healed. Despite the fact that the physical wounds healed, an injury victim could still claim damages related to mental anguish, including lost wages.
Even in a relatively minor case, one can still receive compensation for pain and suffering. For example, if someone was involved in a car accident and suffered back strain, this might not seem like a major injury. However, the plaintiff was training for a marathon and the minor back injury prevents him from exercising for several weeks, which means he can no longer participate in the marathon. He becomes angry, frustrated, unhappy, and a little depressed. Although he is not in need of mental health assistance, his mental pain still qualifies for compensation.
New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone you know was injured due to the negligent and careless actions of another party, the Cossé Law Firm is here for you. Backed by more than 20 years of legal experience and a proven track record of success assisting injury victims, we are seasoned advocates who have an in-depth understanding of the law and how to deal with insurance companies. Our New Orleans personal injury team has obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients and would be honored to do the same for you.
We provide effective advocacy for a wide range of personal injury matters, including car and truck accidents, brain injuries, product liability, spinal cord injuries, motor vehicle defects, wrongful death, amputation injuries and more.