Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury is defined as "any violation of an individual's right, other than his or her rights in property." This is a fairly broad definition, meaning that personal injury cases are not strictly limited to cases of bodily injury. Cases of negligence are a particular kind of personal injury case that almost always involves physical injury.

Most states have their own definition of personal injury, but as a general rule, it involves a violation of an individual's rights. There are several types of damages awarded in personal injury cases, and we'll go over those below. It's especially important to understand pain and suffering damages, so we'll cover that in a little more depth than the others.

What Damages are Awarded?

There are seven types of damages routinely awarded in personal injury cases:

Medical Costs

If the plaintiff in a personal injury case has to undergo medical treatment, damages that pay medical costs can be awarded.

Lost Wages

If the plaintiff is forced to take time off work on account of illness or injuries, or if the plaintiff loses the future ability to earn, an award of lost wages can compensate for this.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages are awarded to compensate for inconvenience, physical pain, etc. (We'll cover it in more detail in the next section.)

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress covers any emotional ramifications of an accident or injury. They must be proven by psychiatric or other medical records.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death suits are brought by the families of individuals who have been killed as the result of someone's negligence.

Loss of Companionship/Loss of Consortium

Among other things, loss of companionship is meant to compensate for the loss of an intimate physical relationship with an injured person.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are sometimes awarded, when it is necessary to punish the negligent party.

Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering damages are awarded in order to compensate for the suffering a plaintiff undergoes as a result of an act of negligence. In many cases, pain and suffering damages are applied as a "multiplier," which multiplies the other damages awarded by a factor ranging from 1 � to 5 times the rest of the damages.

Some of the factors that go into determining pain and suffering include medication prescribed and length of recovery. If you've been prescribed a strong painkiller for a long length of time, you can expect to be awarded a larger pain and suffering total than if you haven't been prescribed any painkiller at all. The longer your recovery period, the greater your pain and suffering is concluded to be.

For these reasons, it's important that there be medical records of the pain and suffering you've undergone. If you're experiencing serious pain, don't be too shy or too stubborn to tell your doctor about it. The courts care about your pain and suffering in these cases, but they can act on that only if you provide them with concrete proof of it.

Talking to a Lawyer About Pain and Suffering

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else's negligence, it is important that you speak to a lawyer. It is up to you to prove that you've sustained pain and suffering, and an experienced lawyer will know how to go about proving this.

For example, a lawyer will know how to use your medical records to prove that you've had a long recovery time. If you have undergone serious pain and suffering as a result of an injury, make sure to mention it to your lawyer. It can make all the difference.

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