What is “pain and suffering”?
Personal injury attorneys use this term a lot, and many people have some understanding of what it means. Pain and suffering refers generally to the subjective and intangible components of an injured person’s damages. This includes the actual physical or emotional pain you are in as a result of the injury. But it encompasses more than just that. For example, if you have a broken leg as a result of an accident, pain and suffering could include your inability to workout or play with your kids. If you have a large scar on your face, pain and suffering could be your self-consciousness or embarrassment over the appearance of the scar and your loss of a social life. In the case of a particularly catastrophic incident like a sexual assault or prolonged sexual abuse, pain and suffering can be long term post-traumatic stress that is a common result of such incidents.
Although the term pain and suffering is somewhat of a cliché, it is a very important part of valuing a case (i.e. determining how much the case is worth). It is personal to each client and individual to each case. I often suggest to my clients that they make notes about ways their life has changed as a result of an injury. While one injury might affect one client a certain way, the same injury could affect another client in a very different way.
In the face of an injury, it is necessary to adapt to any physical limitations you have as a result of the injury. However, as you adapt, it is important to remember that you did not have those limitations before the injury. Your case is not just about what you lost or what was taken from you, but also what you are left with. Whether the limitations are short term or permanent, being able to articulate these limitations to an insurance company or defense attorney can have a big impact on the value of your case.
Medical treatment and medical bills also make up part of the value of any case, but it is important for clients to realize the separate value and importance of pain and suffering. If you think you might have a personal injury case, feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss the case and the pain and suffering that could make up part of your damages. I'm now open in Hingham for personal injury clients on the South Shore/South of Boston!