Law Decoded: What Pain and Suffering Means in Personal Injury Cases

Pain and suffering are words people would almost always hear when someone gets into an accident. For the general public, the phrase prompts empathy and feeling sorry for the one who was hurt. In the eyes of the law, however, the words connote accountability, with someone being answerable to the one who was injured.

Unpacking the Legal Term

“Pain and suffering” is a legal term used to describe the stress a person experienced as a result of an injury. It’s one of the things the court considers in determining compensation for the victim. There are two types of pain and suffering: physical and mental.

Physical, as the term implies, refers to actual damage to the body, including soreness, stiffness, and a worsened medical condition, etc. More than the injuries visible at present, the possible complications in the future are also considered. Mental pain and suffering, on the other hand, refers to the psychological and emotional discomfort the person had to endure as a result of someone’s negligence. According to lawyers in Draper, this includes loss of enjoyment of life, insomnia, mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, humiliation, and fear.

In car accident cases, for instance, victims sometimes sustain multiple broken bones and a severe concussion. Due to such injuries, the person slips into depression, loses their appetite, and finds it harder to sleep at night. They’re strapped to their hospital bed for days, enduring the reality of a disfigured body and an unstable mind.

All these factors would affect the victim’s compensation claim. It’s important, though, to ask for help from a car accident attorney. Draper law offices often provide free case evaluation to give you an idea on how you can best put forward your claim.

“Calculating” Pain and Suffering

Woman stating her story

The court looks at different factors to determine the value of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. For one, they consider the credibility of the plaintiff and the witnesses. They would also evaluate if the testimony stated aligns with the injuries suffered or if there’s an exaggeration in the statement. The court would look into your criminal history as well (if there’s one).

A principle you might have heard in calculating pain and suffering damages is the “multiplier.” This refers to taking the plaintiff’s special damages — that is, the victim’s total medical costs and lost earnings, and multiplying it by 1.5 to 4 depending on the severity of the injuries. This is only an estimate of your compensation, though, and sometimes don’t apply in some cases.

Also, if you’re claiming compensation for a car accident from a negligent driver, in Utah, you must first exceed the minimum Personal Injury Protection insurance. That is unless you suffered dismemberment, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Again, this points to the importance of working with an experienced personal injury lawyer to build your case.

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident takes a toll on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. The good news is, there’s a legal remedy to it. The law sides with the people who are in pain and in suffering.