If you were injured because someone else caused an accident, you may be able to recover damages for their negligence. Often, courts will allow you to seek compensation for actual damages to property, your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering are legal terms that refer to damages that a victim can recover for physical or emotional pain due to an injury, illness, or loss.
Pain and suffering are often difficult to calculate as they do not come with receipts or invoices as medical bills and lost wages do. However, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to help you understand your rights.
How is Pain and Suffering Defined?
In Florida, pain and suffering damages are given to a victim to assist them in coping with the pain inflicted by the defendant’s negligence. Pain and suffering may include any of the physical pain from physical injuries and mental distress caused by an injury. While this pain may feel very real, calculating the dollar value of damages for pain and suffering is subjective. On the flip side, there is no statutory cap on the amount of pain and suffering damages a plaintiff can be awarded in Florida.
Types of Pain and Suffering
Under Florida law, there are two types of pain and suffering: physical pain and suffering and mental/emotional pain and suffering.
Physical Pain and Suffering. This describes the pain and suffering that a victim went through due to the medical injuries sustained due to the defendant’s negligence. The victim can claim not only the physical pain and suffering that has occurred to date but also any expected future pain and suffering that is expected.
Mental/Emotional Pain and Suffering. This describes the pain and suffering that a victim endures due to the accident or negligence. It can include:
- emotional distress
- mental anguish,
- loss of appetite,
- mood swings,
- sleep disturbances,
- sexual dysfunction,
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and
- shock or loss of enjoyment of life.
Mental pain and suffering can encompass any type of negative emotion that is directly related to the accident or negligence caused by the defendant. These damages can include the pain and suffering that has occurred to date and that which is expected in the future.
Calculation of Pain and Suffering
While pain and suffering damages are often awarded in personal injury lawsuits, there are no established and concrete guidelines that exist to determine with specificity how much pain and suffering damages a victim will receive. Some factors that judges and juries will consider include:
- The likability and credibility of the victim
- Consistency in testimony regarding the accident or negligence by the victim
- Whether it appears that the victim is exaggerating their pain and suffering
- Whether medical experts agree with the victim’s description of the severity of the pain and suffering
- Whether the judge or jury believes that the victim lied about anything in the trial
- Whether the pain and suffering damages make logical and common sense to the judge or jury, and
- Whether the victim has a criminal record.
While some of these items are subjective, the decision of determining a monetary amount on pain and suffering is ultimately subjective.
Oftentimes in personal injury cases, the term “multiplier” is used when pain and suffering are calculated. This term refers to the pain and suffering being worth a multiple of the medical bills and lost wages combined together.
Some studies have shown that a multiplier may be between 1.5 to 4 times the amount of medical bills and lost wages combined together. However, this is only an estimate.
Pain and suffering damages depend on a great many factors and seeking the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you to identify factors relevant in your case and determine a realistic valuation of your damages.
Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Suffering physical and/or mental stress as a victim of a car accident is stressful and challenging. However, you do not need to face an insurance company or the individual who caused your injuries alone.
Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you to determine if you may be entitled to pain and suffering and damages, and what the value of those damages might be.