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What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?



Personal injury claimants seek compensatory damages for their injuries. Compensatory damages are comprised of economic and non-economic damages, the former compensating the victim for losses that can be addressed with a monetary award and the latter dealing with non-monetary, intangible losses. Loaded into the term "injury" are components such as medical costs, lost wages, lost future earnings, permanent injury, and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is not often awarded and is a challenging concept to quantify and calculate. What are pain and suffering damages, and what is required of a personal injury claimant to be awarded them?

Pain and suffering damages definition

Pain and suffering damages are comprised of past and present discomfort that an injured claimant experiences as a result of an accident, injury, fall, defective device, or instance of medical malpractice. The concept can encompass everything from tenderness in the muscles and joint problems to ligament pain and more. The discomfort and injury need not be visible on the claimant. As such, physical evidence of a claimant's pain and suffering is not necessary for a claimant to receive a damage award. Although, visible, tangible indications of an injured claimant's pain and suffering bolsters his case significantly.

Calculation of pain and suffering damages

It is challenging to try to measure the amount and degree of pain and discomfort that an injured claimant is experiencing and feeling. In response to this challenge, insurance companies created a scale to help identify the amount of financial compensation to apportion to each injury. Often, insurance companies utilize computer models and programs to perform pain and suffering damage calculations. Alternatively, in some cases, medical expense amounts are multiplied by a factor assigned to the case by the insurance company and its adjuster. The actual amount of pain and suffering is hard to measure and quantify, and no single approach is a foolproof method to achieve an accurate and appropriate figure.

Requirements of injury claimants to establish pain and suffering damages

Personal injury claimants can be their best advocates in championing their cases and establishing pain and suffering damages by following a few steps. Foremost, a claimant should maintain detailed records of pain and discomfort he or she experiences each day in a journal or other written format. The documentation should be detailed and should record the pain on a systematic scale several times a day, with comprehensive descriptions of the types of pain, how it feels, and its location on the body. Medical records, charts, doctors' notes, prescriptions, and similar documentation should also be kept. This information is helpful to demonstrate to a judge or jury the extent of a claimant's injury and what compensation is appropriate to address his pain and suffering.