When does the court award pain and suffering compensation?

Recently on our legal forum a user ask, "When does the court award pain and suffering compensation?" Although most of the compensation awarded in an injury case will be for monetary loss suffered by the plaintiff, a plaintiff is also entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering endured as a result of the wrongful act or omission of the defendant.

What is pain and suffering?

Pain and suffering can include any suffering as a result of the defendant's negligence including pain endured for medical treatment, surgery or deformity. It can also include emotional suffering such as "fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, shock, humiliation, indignity, embarrassment, apprehension, terror, or ordeal." If damages are paid for mental anguish, as described above, the claimant must prove their mental agony was a consequence of the injury.

The court may use their discretion to calculate pain and suffering compensation, but the amount awarded should be based on an intelligent and reasonable assessment of the evidence provided by the plaintiff. Compensation for pain and suffering should only be awarded if there is proof there was severe injury and the claimant is not imagining the pain.

Is pain and suffering always paid for an injury claim?

Pain and suffering compensation is at the discretion of the jury. It's not uncommon for damages for lost wages and medical expenses to be paid, but for the jury to decide there is no immediate or substantial pain. In this case they may decide not to award damages for pain and suffering. It's important, however, that the discretionary power of the jury not be abused. Pain and suffering compensation also should not be punitive.

How will the court determine pain and suffering compensation amounts?

There are no set rules for determining pain and suffering award amounts. Prior to making their decisions the judge or jury will evaluate the physical pain and mental suffering of the plaintiff, reasonable standards, the nature and extent of the injuries, the length of time the pain and suffering was endured, the need for intervening medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment, the presence of physical symptoms, and the loss of income. Additionally, the jury will consider what steps must be taken to live with the pain (i.e. the amount and types of drugs and sedatives needed).

As mentioned above, the ruling parties have discretion, although if the judge decides the jury abused their decision making powers they may interfere and reduce the judgment.

What's the bottom line? The compensation you could receive for pain and suffering is based on evidence you provide to the court. Pain and suffering compensation can be paid for both mental and physical anguish. Pain and suffering compensation is not always awarded and is paid at the discretion of the judge or jury. Pain and suffering compensation can be a subjective calculation, which means it may be a good idea to discuss your case with an injury lawyer.

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