The phrase “pain and suffering” is familiar to many people even outside the legal sphere, but it’s not as well understood. It does not mean anyone is entitled to money just because they were hurt. It also not a catch-all for every loss. As it pertains to Florida injury lawsuits, pain and suffering is a broad term, but technically speaking covers the general, non-economic damages associated with the physical and emotional distress of an injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
Although it’s something of an abstract concept, a person who claims pain and suffering can receive cold, hard cash for the carelessness or wrongdoing that led to injury. Legally, it can be tough to establish because it’s not just the pain of a physical injury, but the mental and emotional anguish that accompanies it. Having a South Florida injury lawyer who can help accurately assess your pain and suffering damages and convey those to decision-makers can be pivotal in ensuring you receive fair compensation.
What Are Damages?
In the legal world, damages refer to money paid to an individual because of losses they have suffered due to an accident, attack or injury. There are many different kinds of damages, but the two primary categories are:
- Compensatory damages. These are damages that compensate for actual losses. This includes pain and suffering, as well as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage and more.
- Punitive damages. These are damages intended to penalize the defendant and/or deter future wrongful acts. As noted in F.S. 768.72, punitive damages are only permitted when there is a reasonable showing by the plaintiff that the defendant was guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence. It’s a high standard, but an important element to explore because it can triple the amount of damages an injured person is paid.
When we drill down further into compensatory damages, there are two types of these: Special damages and general damages. Special damages are those that can be fairly easily quantified (think medical bills or lost earnings or damage to a car). General damages are those that are tougher to pinpoint. These include things like pain and suffering, but also loss of companionship, disfigurement, loss of life enjoyment, etc.
Examples of Pain and Suffering
Some examples of problems that may be associated with an injury that would more likely lead to emotional and mental distress:
- Head trauma or injuries to the brain. These can sometimes result in severe depression, mood swings, reduced mental capacities and personality changes.
- Nerve damage. These kinds of issues can cause numbness, limit a person’s ability to function, cause debilitating pain and cause embarrassing tics.
- Scarring or loss of a body part. This can erode a person’s skills, confidence and relationships, significantly interfering with everyday life.
- Emotional trauma or grief. Many people who have suffered serious injuries may in turn suffer from conditions like depression, anxiety, insomnia, humiliation, PTSD or other injury-related phobias.
Those suing for pain and suffering damages in Florida injury lawsuits are trying to win compensation that will allow them to receive additional care and assistance for this impact.
How Pain and Suffering Damages in Florida Injury Lawsuits are Calculated
No South Florida injury lawyer will be able to tell you at the outset of the case exactly how much compensation you may get for pain and suffering. Compensation amounts can vary significantly, but generally speaking, the severity of a person’s injury will positively correspond to higher compensation awards.
That said, two ways that courts and insurers calculate pain and suffering claims is to:
- Determine the victim’s actual damages and then increase or multiply the total based on the seriousness of the injury.
- Use a per diem allowance to set a certain dollar amount award for each day of recovery on the basis of how severe the injury is.
Even with this, the perceived severity of injury often becomes significant. The skill of your injury attorney can play a big role in outlining for insurers, judges and jurors the impact of your pain and suffering.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
COMPUTING ECONOMIC DAMAGES IN FLORIDA WRONGFUL DEATH AND PERSONAL INJURY CASES, April 2017, By Charles L. Baum II, Florida Bar Journal