What Are “Pain And Suffering” Damages In A Personal Injury Case?
We often use the term “pain and suffering” to describe monetary damages in personal injury lawsuits. But what exactly do we mean by “pain and suffering”? And how does a jury actually calculate such awards?
Pain and suffering is what the law considers a form of non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can be accurately quantified. For example, if you sustain physical injuries in an accident and incur $50,000 in medical bills, that is a form of economic damages.
Non-economic damages, in contrast, are not easily measured in financial terms. Such damages nevertheless exist. This is especially true when it comes to pain and suffering, which can take many different forms:
- Physical pain and suffering is tied to the physical injuries caused by the accident itself. Say you are involved in a car accident. Even after doctors treat your physical injuries, you may still continue to suffer intermittent pain for the rest of your life.
- Mental pain and suffering tends to be a long-term byproduct of a given accident. Even when your physical injuries are relatively minor, you may suffer ongoing mental and emotional distress. This can severely impact your ongoing quality of life, especially if you sustain trauma or develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental pain and suffering can even extend to symptoms like a loss of sleep, loss of appetite, or frequent mood swings.
Determining Damages for Pain and Suffering
In most personal injury cases, Florida law does not restrict a jury’s ability to award non-economic damages for pain and suffering. There are two notable exceptions. First, in medical malpractice cases, non-economic damages are limited to no more than $500,000. Second, in personal injury claims against the State of Florida or a local government, a cap of $200,000 for non-economic damages applies.
There is no set formula for calculating pain and suffering. Instead, the jury is allowed to consider a number of factors. One key factor is often the victim’s own testimony regarding their pain and suffering. If the jury considers the plaintiff “credible” or “likeable,” that can often significantly impact an award of non-economic damages. Of course, there are usually other considerations as well, such as any testimony from the plaintiff’s healthcare providers.
It is also important to understand that Florida follows a comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. This means the jury is required to consider whether the plaintiff’s actions contributed to their accident or injuries in any way. The jury must assign a percentage of “fault” and the court will reduce any final award of damages accordingly.
Contact the Leifer Law Firm Today
An accident often leaves emotional and psychological wounds that do not heal over time. So if your accident was the result of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for those injuries. If you need legal advice or representation from an experienced Boca Raton personal injury lawyer, contact the Leifer Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.