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Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Explains Pain and Suffering

Everyday people are injured due to another person’s carelessness or negligence.  In some cases, the injuries can be severe and even life-threatening. If you have been hurt in an accident in the Baltimore area caused by someone else’s fault, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible to see if a personal injury lawsuit is warranted for your situation. The most common types of damages that are sought in personal injury cases include: medical expenses, lost wages or income, loss of earning capacity, future earnings losses and pain and suffering.  In this article we will focus on pain and suffering.

Defining Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is the term used to describe the physical pain and mental anguish experienced by a person who has been injured due to another person’s negligence. The amount of compensation awarded for pain and suffering depends on the severity of the injuries suffered. Pain and suffering are not considered medical expenses. They are considered damages or losses suffered by the victim as opposed to medical expenses that are costs associated with treating an injury or illness.

What pain and suffering is not?

Pain and suffering does not include pain or discomfort that is too slight to be appreciated by a person of ordinary sensibilities or pain or discomfort associated with a relatively small injury.

Compensation for Economic and Non-Economic Losses

In a court of law, there are two types of losses: economic losses and non-economic losses.

  • Economic losses due to an injury are lost wages, medical expenses and other financial losses. This includes any special medical treatment needed for your injuries, costs associated with specialized training needed to perform certain tasks, hiring home health aides, and costs associated with future medical care and rehabilitation services. 
  • Non-economic losses would be considered to be pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium.

In order to be compensated for pain and suffering the plaintiff must:

  1. Prove that he is in pain (he must provide medical evidence)
  2. Prove that it is caused by the defendant’s negligence (it can’t be due to a pre-existing condition)
  3. Prove that pain is significant enough to be considered pain and suffering (the pain should be more than just a minor inconvenience).

When pain and suffering damages are awarded they are typically in the form of a sum-certain dollar amount, not contingent on future pain or earnings loss.

Factors involved in pain and suffering measurement

There are many factors to consider when attempting to determine the level of pain and suffering damages. For example:

  • the severity of the injury
  • the severity of the pain
  • what the pain is like (e.g., throbbing, sharp, dull), how often pain occurs and the duration of pain
  • any interference pain causes with sleep
  • whether pain interferes with relationships
  • the pain’s impact on life (e.g., pain caused to miss work)

What Type of Bodily Injuries Are Considered

Pain and suffering can include:

  • continuous pain over time
  • pain that interferes with sleep
  • pain that prevents someone from working
  • pain that causes depression 
  • pain that causes interference with normal activities
  • and pain that is too severe to be controlled by medication 
  • pain or discomfort associated with treatment, loss of consortium, loss of sexual relations

Some common injury conditions that can be considered are:

  • brain and head injuries
  • back pain
  • neck pain
  • spinal cord injuries – pain and suffering can be high for both paraplegia (loss of feeling or movement in the lower part of the body) and quadriplegia (loss of feeling or movement in both arms and legs);
  • fractures – permanent residual pain from fractures (e.g. Pain in a knee when climbing stairs or every day movement);
  • burns – pain from residual scarring;
  • amputation
  • nerve damage – pain caused by nerve damage (e.g., pain caused by a facial scar);
  • herniated discs 
  • loss of consortium meaning the loss of ability to have sexual relations, and other aspects of a normal marriage or partnership

Types of Damages Awarded for Pain and Suffering

In addition to compensation for all of your medical costs, lost wages, and other financial losses, courts will award money for pain and suffering when appropriate. This includes:

Monetary Value for Loss of Enjoyment of Life

What this means is that your pain and suffering has caused a loss of pleasure in the things you used to enjoy prior to the accident. For example, if you were an avid golfer or tennis player prior to being injured, but now find yourself unable to play golf or tennis because of injury, then it can be said that your pain and suffering have taken away some of the fun you once had playing these sports. In other words, your pain and suffering are causing you to lose enjoyment out of life as well as making it difficult for you to do what you want to do with your time.

Loss of consortium would be included in this category.  The legal definition of loss of consortium, as defined by Legal Information Institute of Cornell University, is deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship (including affection and sexual relations) due to injuries caused by the person who gives rise to the injury.  

Monetary Value for Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish

Mental anguish is defined as emotional distress resulting from harm done to one’s body or property. Emotional distress does not necessarily mean having to deal with depression or anxiety. Instead, it refers to experiencing strong emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, grief, embarrassment, shame, guilt, worry, frustration, disappointment, confusion, loneliness, nervousness, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, irritability, mood swings, crying spells, suicidal thoughts, self-destructive behavior, substance abuse, and eating disorders,

How to Prove Pain and Suffering?

Personal injury lawsuits are based on the idea that someone has been injured due to another person’s negligence. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent, which means that they failed to act reasonably under the circumstances. This failure caused the plaintiff harm. 

If the plaintiff proves that the defendant was negligent and that his or her injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions, then he or she may be entitled to compensation for damages.

To prove pain and suffering, your lawyer will need to provide evidence showing how much pain and suffering you have endured since the date of the incident. Your attorney can also use expert testimony from doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others familiar with your condition to help establish this fact.

Should You File a Lawsuit

If you believe that you may have a valid claim against the party responsible for causing your injuries, then you should consult with an attorney immediately after being involved in an automobile collision or other type of motor vehicle crash. An attorney can help you determine whether there is merit to pursuing a case against the at-fault driver. A lawyer can also advise you about how much money you might recover from the insurance company of the negligent driver.

Contact a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of John J. Leppler, our goal is simple – To provide honest and professional representation that gets results! We are here to help injured victims get back on their feet after being involved in a crash. John will answer any questions about your case and work hard on your behalf so that you can focus on getting better instead of worrying about dealing with insurance companies. Call John today for a FREE Consultation at (443) 955-1989.