When you file a lawsuit, you have multiple damages you can seek. One of those categories includes pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances of the case, pain and suffering damages might be a hefty portion of your compensation received. Therefore, it is important you understand what they are, their limitations, and when a case qualifies for it.
How Pain and Suffering Differs from Other Compensation in Danbury Injury Cases
Pain and suffering are designed to reimburse you for losses stemming from your injury – but not your financial losses. Instead, it is a broader category of damages that focuses on physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish. These injuries are not based on your word alone. Instead, it will require multiple forms of evidence to establish that you have valid pain and suffering losses.
Compensatory versus Non-Compensatory Damages
When you file a claim for compensation, you have two general categories of damages: compensatory and non-compensatory damages.
Compensatory Damages Cover Documented Losses
Compensatory damages offset your financial losses. These are actual damages, including out-of-pocket expenses and claims paid by your insurer. Some common compensatory damages you may receive for an injury case include:
- Medical expenses – including future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Loss of future earning capacity
All these expenses are easily documented in court. You will have statements, explanation of benefits, and receipts for these losses. They are calculated by your attorney and hard for the defense to dispute.
Pain and Suffering Falls under General Damages
Pain and suffering damages are awards given to you by the jury or negotiated in a settlement that cover physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional damages. You cannot document these with receipts or statements; instead, it is based on the severity of your injury and testimony from medical experts.
These damages are not the same as compensatory damages. They do not reimburse you financially for anything you have paid out-of-pocket. Instead, they aim to make you and your family whole again despite the injuries you suffered.
Examples of Pain and Suffering Damages
Courts might award pain and suffering for specific injury cases. Typically, if you suffer harm due to a defendant’s conduct, the court looks at the injury you sustained and the actions of the defendant to decide how much you should receive for your pain and suffering.
Common examples of cases where you would see pain and suffering damages awarded:
- Emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression, following a serious accident
- Bodily injuries that have long-term physical effects, including chronic pain
- The limitations in your quality of life because of the accident and any other long-term limitations you might suffer
- Grief from the death of a loved one
- The potential damage to your life expectancy if injuries will dramatically shorten your life
If the injury causes you emotional or physical pain, you qualify for pain and suffering. Also, phantom pain might apply if you suffered an amputation or serious nerve damage in your accident. You may request extra pain and suffering due to your long-term medication, rehabilitation, and mental therapy costs.
When Does a Case Qualify for Pain and Suffering Damages?
Most injury claims qualify for pain and suffering damages. If you have suffered an injury, you will have physical pain and mental anguish. As soon as you detect an injury, you should consult with an attorney. An attorney will help document your pain and suffering damages so that you can argue in court that you qualify.
In some cases, pain and suffering are not immediately apparent. You might still receive pain and suffering as long as you file a claim within the statute of limitations. For example, you are in a serious accident and you do not realize the long-term effects of the injury until a few months later. Only then do you consider filing a claim for your injuries – including pain and suffering. In this case, you are likely within the statute of limitations and can still qualify for compensation.
Factors the Court Considers First
- How strong is the evidence supporting your injuries?
- Did you have any pre-existing conditions?
- How will the injury affect your quality of life?
- What is the type of injury? How long will the injury affect you? How severe is the pain with that type of injury?
- What future complications might arise from your accident?
Compensation Value: How Much Could You Receive for Pain and Suffering?
The amount t of compensation you can receive depends on the severity of your case, the strength of the evidence, and the state’s limitations.
An injury that you recover from will not yield as high of a pain and suffering settlement as an injury that affects you the rest of your life. Also, the severity of the injury plays a role. For example, a broken arm versus a shattered femur. A broken arm might take a few months to heal and require physical therapy. A shattered femur is likely to require multiple rounds of surgery, therapy, and could result in chronic long-term pain. In that case, the person with a broken femur would see a higher reward than someone with a broken arm that heals quickly.
Are There State Limitations?
Some states impose limits on how much pain and suffering you can receive. In Connecticut, there is no limit on pain and suffering damages and your pain and suffering damages are part of your non-economic damages. Therefore, the courts will not reduce the amount the jury awards you because of a statute.
Proving Your Case
To get the most compensation possible, your attorney must prove that your pain and suffering is genuine.
Some ways they might do this include:
- Medical Records: Using your medical records helps the jury see the extent of your injuries. Photographs, records of surgery, and therapy you have received all show that you have suffered physically and mentally. Your prescriptions for pain, depression, and other complications following the accident also prove pain and suffering exists.
- Medical Testimony: Sometimes, it helps to have a medical expert testify about the extent of your injuries and how they will affect your quality of life now and in the future.
- Your Testimony: Your attorney might have you testify about the physical and mental limitations you suffer from your injury, the symptoms you have experienced and how they affect you, and the impact of your injury on your personal life (including your marriage or relationship with loved ones).
Pain and suffering damages are highly subjective and often heavily scrutinized. Therefore, the more evidence the plaintiff presents, the easier it is to convince the court to pay adequate compensation for this category.
General Guidelines When Claiming Pain and Suffering
Any time you are filing a lawsuit, you should consult with an attorney. When filing a lawsuit that involves pain and suffering and the attorneys asks for information, you should:
- Be Specific: Be specific with the details about your condition. Any time you are vague, you leave the details up for interpretation. The more information you provide to the jury (especially regarding how your injury affects you, the prognosis, and your quality of life), the easier it is for them to justify your pain and suffering requests.
- Keep Documents: Always keep documents stemming from the accident case, including police reports, medical records, prescription information, lost wage statements, and any other documents you can use as evidence.
- Keep a Journal: A journal helps you recall details of your injury months later. After all, most injury cases do not go to court for months after being filed. You will want to recall the intimate details of your physical, mental, and emotional suffering. In your journal, write down daily how you felt physically, the scale of your pain, treatments you received and their pain, your emotions, and any other effects the accident had on you that day.
Do You Need an Attorney for Your Injury Case?
Pain and suffering damages only apply in specific situations. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney if you need to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering.
An attorney not only reviews your case and tells you if you qualify, but they will represent you in court and offer legal expertise. Furthermore, your attorney will assist you with filing motions, negotiating a settlement, and can take your case to court if necessary.
Do not attempt to negotiate pain and suffering damages on your own. Instead, contact an injury attorney.