What Constitutes Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are things that fit into the category of “non-economic damages” in personal injury cases. These losses do not always have a bill, receipt, or other documentation that measure the loss in terms of dollars. These damages are, nonetheless, legitimate losses for which injury victims should receive compensation.

At S. Burke Law, we work hard to show the court the extent and value of your economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Usually, you must sustain a physical injury to be eligible for non-economic damages. The term “pain and suffering” encompasses both your physical pain and your psychological suffering.

Physical Pain

You can recover compensation for the physical pain and discomfort you endured from the injury itself, as well as the physical pain and discomfort from things like:

  • Surgery that you needed to repair the damage, such as orthopedic surgery to install metal plates and screws to stabilize a shattered bone;
  • Physical therapy to regain your strength, flexibility, range of motion, and complete your recuperation;
  • Other treatments, like wound debriding, skin grafts, and changing dressings;
  • Subsequent surgery to lessen scars and disfigurement;
  • Chronic pain that you continue to experience after your injury heals;
  • Scar tissue pain from significant burns and other injuries.

Psychological Suffering

For many people, the psychological trauma can be as excruciating and debilitating as the physical injuries. Some examples of psychological suffering include:

  • Terror at the time of the injury. For example, you were stopped in a traffic jam and saw that the tractor-trailer behind you was not slowing down. You had to sit there and watch the massive truck crash into you.
  • Fright and worry over whether you would live through the accident.
  • Stress in the ambulance and emergency room about how severe your injuries would be, whether you would be able to continue working to support yourself and your family and whether the injuries would be debilitating. Worry about whether, for example, you would be able to walk again, live independently, and engage in the activities that you enjoy.
  • Physical and mental exhaustion during the recuperation process. Recuperating from a significant injury can drain your energy.
  • Financial stress from missing wages while you are in the hospital, rehabilitation center, or at home recovering from your injuries. While you are hurting and trying to heal, you are also stressing over whether you will have the money to buy groceries, pay the electric bill, or your medication. Without a paycheck, you might get evicted from your home.
  • Inconvenience the injury created. For example, having to drive to physical therapy two or three times a week for several months can take away a significant portion of those days, impeding your ability to work and take care of your family.
  • Sadness if, for example, you missed attending your child’s graduation or some other significant event because of the injury. You can experience grief from the loss of experiences and time that you can never get back.
  • Depression about things like your immediate physical condition, ongoing pain, decreased quality of life, and financial losses from the injury.
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia or nightmares can follow an injury.
  • Disfigurement from your injuries, such as scar tissue from burns and lacerations.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. If you can no longer do things that you enjoyed before the accident, like walking or hiking, you have sustained a loss of enjoyment of life. People with life-changing injuries like paralysis, head trauma, and loss of vision often experience this condition.
  • Anger over your injuries and how they have impacted your life.
  • Humiliation, particularly if you experience disfigurement that causes others to stare at you.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Panic attacks, uncontrollable outbursts, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fear, and personality changes can linger for years after an injury. For example, some people cannot ride in a vehicle again after a car accident that involved severe or fatal injuries. They might have panic attacks at the very thought of getting back into a car.
  • The economic consequences of PTSD can be significant since many people with this condition have difficulty maintaining employment.
  • Relationships can deteriorate because of PTSD. It can be challenging to live with someone who suffers from this condition. PTSD can lead to divorce and the loss of lifelong friendships.
  • Other emotional distress. Mood swings, irritability, and loss of control of one’s emotions are but a few examples of how a personal injury can cause you emotional distress.

How We Prove Your Pain and Suffering Damages

We can use your medical records and the accident report to show the extent of your injuries and all the medical treatment you had to endure because of the injury. Your doctor’s file should indicate whether you complained of pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, or other aspects of pain and suffering.

Records from your treating health care professional will help to document your emotional distress. Sometimes people close to you, like your family, friends, and co-workers can provide additional evidence of how the injury has affected you.

How to Get Help for Your Personal Injury Claim

A phone call to S. Burke Law is all that it takes to get things started on your personal injury claim. Call us today at 404-842-7838, to line up your free consultation. We will explain your legal rights and evaluate your economic and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. We do not charge legal fees until you win.