When you are injured, you will likely face economic damages, including loss of wages, medical expenses, and more. In some cases, you may also experience noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. As with economic damages, you can seek compensation for noneconomic damages if someone else caused your injury.
What are pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering collectively describe the physical pain plus the emotional suffering you feel after your injury. It can last for days, months, or even years and has an observable impact on your normal life.
Pain and suffering can be difficult to prove, especially emotional suffering. A particular injury may impact two parties in entirely different ways. Thus, it is up to the victim to demonstrate their daily suffering, both physical and mental.
Common types of emotional suffering include:
A seasoned personal injury attorney is a key ally at this juncture. They will know how to establish both the physical and emotional suffering you feel to the satisfaction of the court.
Who is entitled to pain and suffering?
Although all injuries are negative experiences, not all rise to the level of producing compensable pain and suffering. In order to determine whether a plaintiff is eligible for pain and suffering, the court will take into account a few factors.
Extent of the Injury
A judge is more likely to rule for pain and suffering damages when the injury is extensive. In cases of catastrophic injuries, pain and suffering are assumed to be present. For example, a dog attack victim who suffers extensive injuries, including amputations, will experience significant pain and suffering.
Age of the Victim
Because they have more years yet to live, younger injured victims may receive more compensation when their injury leads to lifelong pain and suffering. Additionally, younger victims, especially minors, may experience more mental anguish over an injury than adults would.
Extent of Change to Your Life
When an injury significantly alters your daily life, the court will be more likely to approve damages for pain and suffering. For example, a visible facial scar, loss of limbs, or loss of sight are all life-altering injuries that cause unique types of suffering.
How do you calculate pain and suffering?
Insurance companies have formulas they use to calculate payouts for pain and suffering. In some cases, the formula works out in a just settlement for the plaintiff. However, insurance settlement offers are often far below what victims of injuries deserve.
An experienced personal injury attorney will recognize an insurance company’s low-ball offer and fight for more compensation for their client. If the insurance company refuses to award more compensation, then your attorney will likely recommend going to trial, where the court will determine compensation.
The court is not bound by any formulas, and there are no caps on noneconomic damages in most cases. This directly translates into significant monetary awards for injuries suffered.
Medical malpractice cases are the only exception to the no-cap rule. In West Virginia, noneconomic damages are capped at $250,000. However, there are exceptions to this rule that allow plaintiffs to recover up to $500,000.
These exceptions include injuries that cause damage, such as:
- Permanent and significant physical deformity, or loss of a body part
- Permanent and significant physical or mental incapacitation, causing dependence
Fatal accidents are also an exception.
Pursuing Pain and Suffering Damages
At Hewitt & Salvatore, PLLC, we’ve fought for and won significant pain and suffering damages for our Fayetteville clients. We know how distressing injuries can be and the pain and suffering they cause. We fight for maximum compensation for all of our personal injury clients.
Contact us for a free consultation today.