One of the most common compensations awarded in negligence lawsuits is for pain and suffering. In our society, we often hear the term but may not understand what it is. If you have been involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important to understand what the term means and how it could affect a potential lawsuit.
PAIN AND SUFFERING
“Pain and suffering” is actually a legal term that describes the physical and emotional after effects experienced following an accident. This can include such varied effects as chronic pain, emotional depression, and shortened life expectancy.
When a lawsuit is filed after an injury, the plaintiff usually seeks compensation for both any money directly lost as a result of the injury as well as the “pain and suffering” incurred because of the injury itself. The money sought for reimbursement for direct costs incurred because of the injury is called “compensatory damages.” In a typical damages lawsuit, the plaintiff could file for compensation for hospital bills and lost wages.
WHAT AFFECTS PAIN AND SUFFERING
Unlike compensatory damages, which are easy to affix a definite price to, there are many outside factors that affect the amount of money awarded for pain and suffering damages. When juries award money for pain and suffering, factors like the particular economic circumstances and other political factors in the area in which the trial is conducted play a major part. The personality and specific life circumstances of the plaintiff can also be important to juries.
Pain and suffering damages may be awarded outside of trial, often in arbitration, mediation, and insurance settlements. In these cases, the claims do not necessarily have to be litigated. Many states have laws limiting the amount that can be claimed in pain and suffering damages.