If you have been involved in a personal injury accident, you may be entitled to pain and suffering damages. These damages are separate from the compensation one gets for “concrete” expenses such as medical treatment, physical therapy, and/or lost wages. Rather, pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical pain and mental anguish that your injury has caused you and/or will continue to cause you.
Of course, it’s never easy to assign a dollar amount to your pain and suffering. And knowing that you deserve pain and suffering damages and being able to prove that fact to an insurance adjuster or jury requires significantly different amounts of evidence and legal know-how.
To learn whether or not you should claim pain and suffering damages as part of your personal injury case, call Mithoff Law’s personal injury lawyers in Houston at 713-654-1122 or contact us online today.
What is pain and suffering in relation to personal injury cases?
Most people have a pretty firm grip on what “pain and suffering” means in everyday life. But to break down the abstract concept of pain and suffering into terms that can be interpreted and applied in a court of law, many split the singular concept of pain and suffering into two separate aspects: physical pain and suffering and emotional pain and suffering.
Physical pain and suffering
Physical pain and suffering damages compensate people for the pain their injuries cause them, both to-date and after a suit is completed.
Types of physical pain that may entitle you to pain and suffering damages:
- Pain caused by the actual injury
- Pain from medical treatment
- Chronic, long-term pain and aches
- Pain that affects your ability to perform certain tasks
- Reduced quality of life
Emotional pain and suffering
Emotional pain and suffering may be the less straightforward aspect of pain and suffering, but it is by no means less important. The emotional ramifications (and costs associated with them) of a personal injury can affect clients long after their scars have healed.
Types of emotional pain that may entitle you to pain and suffering damages:
- Chronic fatigue
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior
- Difficulty controlling anger
- Related bodily harm (physical signs related to your emotional distress such as frequent headaches, vomiting, etc.)
- Shame and humiliation
- Social discomfort
- Fear and terror
There are two ways to claim emotional pain and suffering outside of wrongful death claims:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress (such as emotional distress following an assault)
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress (such an intense fear of driving after a car accident)
FAQ: Is emotional distress the same as pain and suffering?
Yes and no. Emotional distress, as well as mental anguish, are umbrella terms used to differentiate the mental aspect of pain and suffering from the physical aspect of pain and suffering. In this respect, you can think of emotional distress or mental anguish as alternative ways of labeling the “Emotional pain and suffering” section in which this FAQ is found.
However, doctors also use the terms emotional distress and mental anguish to diagnose a patient’s emotional response to trauma; symptoms of emotional distress can be anything from anxiety to shame to loss of confidence.
What is included in pain and suffering damages?
Pain and suffering damages are general compensatory damages (also called non-economic damages or non-monetary damages). For more information on the different types of damages please read our article: Different Types of Personal Injury Compensation.
Simply put, pain and suffering damages compensate you for “general” harm. They are damages that don’t come with a defined dollar amount or a receipt.
For example, imagine an individual seeking pain and suffering damages after a car accident. That person could not receive pain and suffering damages for the medical bills for an amputation they needed after the crash, but they could receive pain and suffering damages if they now suffer from chronic pain from the wound and/or depression caused by limited mobility.
FAQ: How are pain and suffering damages determined?
Your pain and suffering compensation amount will depend on a variety of factors related to your case. While you will see references to a pain and suffering multiplier or other means of finding a pain and suffering settlement estimate, it’s best to consult with your lawyer if you want to come up with a realistic figure. Note that Texas caps pain and suffering damages at $250,000 per claimant (or $100,000 if your claim is against the state).
How do you prove pain and suffering?
Because it’s often visible, physical pain and suffering are typically easier to prove than emotional distress. However, it is possible to gather evidence and make strong cases for both. A skilled personal injury lawyer will know how to leverage the following to your benefit:
- Medical documentation: Medical documentation of the extent of your injuries, as well as your recovery process, can help verify the intensity of your injury and the need for ongoing long-term treatment and care.
- Thoroughness and consistency: Make sure to note all of your symptoms to your doctor during your visits. Do not skip appointments, no matter how redundant they may feel. These precautions will help establish the chronic nature of your physical or emotional pain.
- Documentation of emotional distress: If you suspect you are struggling with emotional distress, see a psychiatrist or psychologist. That way, you will have a record of any psychological issues.
- Expert witnesses: The use of expert witnesses such as doctors and psychologists can add weight to your case. Expert witnesses can help convince insurance companies, employers, or other responsible parties that your claims are valid.
- Testimony of family, friends, and colleagues: The testimony of your loved ones can help prove emotional pain and suffering. Those who know you best can use specific examples of how they’ve seen your personal injury affect your outlook, demeanor, actions, and abilities.
- Journals and personal records: If you keep a journal or any other means of tracking your physical and emotional conditions, you can use this documentation to validate your claims for pain and suffering damages.
Need to file a pain and suffering claim? Mithoff Law can help.
Suing for pain and suffering damages is, we believe, too much to ask of someone who is in pain and suffering. But if those responsible for hurting you or a loved refuse to compensate you for what you’ve endured, they should be held accountable. And we should do what we can to help.
Whether you’re looking for a car accident lawyer, a workplace injury lawyer, product liability lawyer, or any other type of personal injury lawyer, the experienced attorneys at Mithoff Law can determine what kind of compensation you may be entitled to claim, including pain and suffering damages.
Our nationally renowned firm and highly esteemed attorneys are master negotiators and compelling courtroom advocates. Equally important to us is the dignity with which we treat our clients; unlike other top-tier firms, we put our egos aside and keep the focus on you. Your case will always be about your injuries and your right to fair treatment.
Don’t let those responsible for your personal injury take more from you than they already have. Call Mithoff Law’s personal injury lawyers in Houston at 713-654-1122 or contact us online today.