UNITED STATES—When you make a compensation claim in a personal injury case, you are entitled to be compensated for two kinds of damages: economic and noneconomic damages.
The former includes compensation for lost income and medical bills. The latter is less quantifiable and is largely dependent on your specific accident and injuries.
Though, the most common component of noneconomic damages is “pain and suffering.”
But what does “pain and suffering” cover in a compensation claim for a personal injury?
What is covered by the term “pain and suffering”?
There is not one overriding definition of the term “pain and suffering” when relating to noneconomic damages.
But it generally refers to physical pain that was caused by the accident, physical discomfort from necessary medical treatments, and psychological effects like mental anguish, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
Also, sometimes “pain and suffering” can be more clearly defined when the injury is related to specific compensation funds, such as the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
Many people who were exposed to the toxins in the air and water at or near Ground Zero on or after September 11, 2001, when the terror attacks took place, have developed illnesses as a result.
The VCF provides economic and noneconomic damages to those victims. The fund’s “pain and suffering” damages cover victims’ physical pain, mental and physical suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of daily activities.
Check out this helpful article to learn more about pain and suffering damages after 9/11 as well as the economic damages that victims could receive.
How is your specific “pain and suffering” determined?
An insurance company or court of law will determine your level of pain and suffering by looking at your specific type of injury and the nature of your medical treatment as well as the degree of pain you have been in and how long you have been and will be enduring the pain and suffering.
Proving Your Pain and Suffering
To be awarded pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case, you will have to prove that you have experienced pain and suffering. Though, often all that is needed for proof is your medical records.
They will inform insurance companies, lawyers, or a jury about the physical and mental pain you have endured after an accident.
Though, sometimes, medical experts may need to be called as witnesses to explain things in more detail or more clearly.
For instance, if you have suffered significant emotional or psychological harm, a therapist or psychologist may be called to establish the mental harm element of your “pain and suffering.”
The Length of Your Pain and Suffering Can Affect How Much You Receive in Compensation
To most insurance companies and courts, the longer your recovery period is, the higher amount you can receive for your pain and suffering.
Again, your medical records will help to prove how long you have been suffering and how long you are likely to suffer.
A medical professional could be called as a witness to confirm how long your recovery is likely to take.
The kinds of activities you are able to participate in during your recovery will also go some way in showing how much your life has been affected and determining how much compensation you are entitled to for your pain and suffering.
If you are not able to make a full recovery from your injuries, that will also determine the amount of compensation you can receive.
Consult a Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, you should consult a lawyer.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you navigate legal complexities and assist you in obtaining both the economic and noneconomic damages that you are entitled to.