After a serious accident, you may suffer from more than just your injuries. There are so many other, sometimes lasting results that can stem from a personal injury that negatively alters your life in some way. Whether they are physical or emotional, these results of pain and suffering are just as important to take into account when you file a lawsuit against the party responsible for your accident. If you don’t consider them, you may be left with debilitating changes to your life that become even harder to navigate without the support of additionally awarded damages.
Q: What is pain and suffering?
A: Pain and suffering are also often referred to as compensatory damages, non-economic damages, emotional distress, or general damages. They are considered the “damages” that result from a personal injury that is less measurable than something like hospital bills for treating injuries or lost wages as a result of being unable to work due to those injuries. Instead, these kinds of damages account for the continued physical pain and emotional distress that a victim suffers from after the crash or incident and the resulting injury, often caused by gross negligence or malice in the case of a personal injury lawsuit.
They are sometimes called “non-economic” damages because they often include factors that aren’t easily calculable to an exact dollar amount, and so the way they are determined and awarded is more general and based on a variety of additional factors in the case and in the victim’s life. They are also often meant to further “punish” the defendant and warn others against similar behavior in the future.
Q: Can you sue for pain and suffering in Missouri?
A: Yes, you are legally allowed to sue for compensatory or non-economic damages for pain and suffering in the state of Missouri, though some types of legal cases do have restrictions on how much can be awarded to the victim. But when it comes to personal injury cases specifically, Missouri does not impose a cap on either economic or non-economic damages (unless medical negligence is involved).
So in the case of something like a car accident, trucking accident, or slip and fall that results in serious injuries, there is no limit on medical costs, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, property damage, or pain and suffering. However, not every such case may qualify to sue for pain and suffering or for economic damages.
Q: What cases qualify to sue for pain and suffering?
A: When you can sue for pain and suffering depends on the severity of the case and the resulting injuries and other trauma. If the impact is severe enough, your personal injury attorney may ask a trial jury to consider awarding such additional damages, and their decision will often be based on things like:
- The extent to which the injured party’s daily routine has been altered.
- How their injury impacts the relationships in their life.
- How the pain caused by their injury impacts their sleep or general lifestyle.
- If and how the injury will impact the party long-term.
If the extent of the injuries and the impact on the victim’s life doesn’t seem to cause drastic or long-term negative effects, the case may not be eligible for seeking compensation for pain and suffering. Often, the judge assigned to the case will help to determine that.
Q: What kind of pain and suffering can I sue for?
A: The types of pain and suffering you can sue for depend upon how the injuries affect how you live your life. Some examples include:
- Physical impairment: Some injuries may physically damage your body in a way that alters your life and makes it difficult to live as you once did. This is especially true in the cases of severe injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries that can hinder basic bodily abilities such as vision, speech, walking, or moving normally.
- Physical pain: Pain can have a massive impact on daily life and can remain even after the victim has done all they can from a medical standpoint to improve their situation.
- Disfigurement: As the body heals from injuries, it can leave behind permanent physical reminders of the accident, such as scars, burns, or lost limbs.
- Loss of quality of life: If you’ve suffered severe injuries, it’s possible that your daily life will change significantly, such as now needing to spend your days visiting doctors or attending rehab, which all may be further complicated by the side effects of ongoing medication.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: When someone can no longer enjoy the activities and hobbies they loved before their injuries, whether mentally or physically (such as gardening, playing with their children, or reading for pleasure), it can have a severe, lasting impact on their life.
- Loss of companionship: If the incident took the life of a spouse, parent, or child, it could drastically alter the lives of those left behind by removing companionship, affection, security, or general care.
- Grief or depression: The loss or severe injury of such a loved one can cause intense grief that can often morph into depression and affect every aspect of daily life. That kind of emotional distress can sometimes be completely paralyzing.
- Anger: Chronic anger and outbursts often stem from PTSD or brain injury as a result of the accident and can affect not just the victim but everyone in their life.
- Anxiety: Heightened senses of worry, dread, or unease that the victim did not possess before their accident can alter life negatively. For example, a severe car crash might cause a fear of driving or riding in a vehicle.
- Embarrassment or humiliation: These are forms of mental anguish that can be brought on by an injury that makes the victim feel ashamed, such as being victimized or feeling embarrassed over scars and other disfigurement.
- Sexual dysfunction: This can include a loss of the physical ability to perform sexual functions or feel physical pleasure, as well as the loss of desire or arousal that negatively affects relationships and can cause emotional distress.
Q: How are damages for pain and suffering calculated?
A: There is no precise calculator that can tell a person exactly how much they can expect to receive when suing for pain and suffering compensation. That’s because, as mentioned, these kinds of damages are much more challenging to quantify with precise economic numbers (which is why they are often called “non-economic” damages).
Even so, some kind of monetary amount must be awarded in cases where the victim is found deserving of compensatory damages. Sometimes, a “multiplier” method is used to achieve this number, most often by insurance companies. They may take all the quantifiable damages in your case (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and multiply the result by a number that’s usually between 1.5 and 5. The number they decide to multiply by is determined by the degree of seriousness or severity of your pain and suffering, which is why so much variance is at play. But the number can depend on things like:
- The degree of comparative fault for each party involved in the incident.
- The seriousness of the injuries involved, especially considering permanent damage, disfigurations, or disabilities.
- A clear and demonstratable proof of pain and suffering based on verified documents from medical authorities such as doctors or therapists.
- The period of recovery and type of recovery is essential to fully healing or treating the injuries to the extent that medicine can allow.
Based on these factors, your personal injury lawyer will devise a number to suggest at the beginning of the lawsuit process. But if your case goes to trial, it will ultimately be up to the jury to decide how much compensation you should receive for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced.
If an unexpected accident has left you or a loved one injured, Finney Injury Law is ready to help. Our trial attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to assist in cases related to car crashes, trucking accidents, and child/daycare negligence so that victims can receive fair compensation for their pain & suffering. Get justice with our top-notch legal representation; call us at 314-293-4222 today!