Yes, under some circumstances, you can sue for your child’s pain and suffering. The facts of your specific situation will determine whether you can file a claim for this type of harm.
What Is Pain and Suffering
Although people use the term “pain and suffering,” few can give a definition of the phrase.
- Pain is physical discomfort. This can include the physical discomfort from the moment of the injury until your child heals completely. The pain can also include painful scar tissue from a severe injury and contractures from burns.
If your child has to undergo medical procedures like surgery, skin grafts, or physical therapy to treat your injuries, the “pain” component of his pain and suffering claim can include the discomfort from those things.
- Suffering is emotional distress and inconvenience. The accident might have been terrifying and traumatic. For example, your child might have been stopped in traffic while watching a tractor-trailer come up behind his car at high speed.
When he initially got hurt, he did not know how significant the harm was or how it would affect his life. He might have had to wait days or months to know if he would ever walk again or live independently.
- Also, injuries can be highly disruptive to your child’s life. Imagine having to be in the hospital for a month while missing school and activities or being in physical therapy for half a day three times a week for several months in a row. Your child might not be able to graduate with his peers.
These examples are but a few of the many ways that a child can experience pain and suffering after an injury.
The Element of Physical Injury
In most circumstances, your child must have experienced a physical injury to be eligible for pain and suffering compensation. For example, if the tractor-trailer managed to stop in time or veer away and avoid hitting your child’s car, such that your child escaped without injury, he does not have a claim for pain and suffering.
No one will argue that the experience was not frightening, but for a mental distress claim within pain and suffering, your child would have to sustain a physical injury. Terror alone is not sufficient.
How to Determine Who Is Liable for Your Child’s Pain and Suffering Damages
The person who hurt your child through carelessness must have liability for the harm before the court will make that person pay damages, which can include pain and suffering. The amount of compensation you can get will depend on the facts of your case. Every case is different because all injuries are unique. Your child’s injuries might not be the same as those of someone else in the same car.
We will have to prove all four of these elements of liability to hold someone responsible for your child’s injuries:
- Duty of care. The defendant must have owed a duty of care. In the tractor-trailer example, the truck driver, like everyone who operates a motor vehicle on a public street, has a duty to drive safely and keep his attention on the road.
- Breach of duty. It is negligence when someone does not live up to a legal duty of care. Let’s say that the truck driver was not paying attention to the slowed traffic because she was texting while behind the wheel. Texting while driving is not driving safely or keeping one’s focus on the road, so that behavior is negligence.
- Causation. The careless act must be the thing that caused the wreck and the injury to your child. If the truck driver crashed into your child’s car because of texting, the negligence caused the accident and the harm to your child.
- Measurable damages. You must have quantifiable costs from the negligent act to go after money damages. If your child sustained a physical injury in the crash, that fact will satisfy this element of liability. The truck driver and possibly the trucking company will be responsible for your child’s losses. Once you establish the physical harm, you can go after intangible damages, like pain and suffering.
Every case is different. Sometimes it can be hard to apply the legal requirements to your situation to know if you have a case worth pursuing. Do not worry. If you want to potentially sue for your child’s pain and suffering, we can explain your legal rights when we talk with you.
How to Get Help for Your Child’s Pain and Suffering Claim
At S. Burke Law, we care about you and your family. Our firm is family-focused. We will never treat you like a number. We deliver responsive, personal legal services to our clients.
You can focus your attention and energy on helping your child get better while we take care of your legal matters. We can file a claim for your child’s slip and fall or accident injuries, try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, and sue the careless party if necessary. We will fight hard to get you all the compensation you deserve to help rebuild your child’s life.
Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation before the statute of limitations passes.