Anyone who has experienced pain, suffering, mental trauma or emotional anguish understands how much they affect the overall health and well-being of an individual. The feeling is especially true when an injury has occurred due to someone else’s negligence. That is why personal injury lawsuits in Florida allow plaintiffs to seek compensation for pain and suffering.
Florida statutes are specific as to what constitutes pain and suffering. Therefore, you may want to discuss your case with a licensed Florida personal injury attorney to determine your eligibility. He or she can also help you identify the amount you can request as well as gathering evidence to prove your claims.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
The damages recoverable due to an accident are not limited to medical bills and lost income. There are intangible factors that come at the mental and physical expense of the injured person. These factors are known as ‘pain and suffering’ in a personal injury lawsuit.
Injuries that Qualify for Pain and Suffering Compensation
Florida is one state that allows personal injury plaintiffs the opportunity to recover compensation for pain and suffering in the courtroom. Florida state statutes allow you to recover for pain and suffering when the you prove that the injured party sustained:
- total or partial loss of bodily functions
- permanent disability
- permanent scarring or disfigurement
- loss of life
Pain and suffering must also be directly related to the anguish experienced by your injuries. For example, if a car accident laceration severely scarred your face, your pain and suffering damages would include shame and humiliation and loss of enjoyment of life because you were embarrassed to go out in public. Judges and jurors pay attention to details like that.
Pain and Suffering Without a Physical Injury Present
Most personal injury pain and suffering claims are physical in nature. It’s unusual to see a lawsuit without a physical component, but certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. There are a few instances in which a physical injury has not occurred but the harmed individual could receive compensation.
For example, if a psychologist or psychiatrist may cause mentally or emotionally damage to his or her patient, potentially through manipulation. This may lead to emotional suffering, as well as an exacerbation of mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
There are other instances where pain and suffering without a physical injury may occur. Courts may award pain and suffering damages in lawsuits involving defective or faulty products, whether an injury has occurred or not, or in situations where an individual witnessed a traumatic event. For example, if a mother sees her child die in a hit and run accident, she may recover pain and suffering damages even if she was not physically injured.
How to Calculate the Value of Pain and Suffering in Florida
It’s challenging to calculate pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit. The reason is that jurors are attempting to assign a measurable value to a non-measurable situation; an individual cannot submit receipts or bills to prove that they have suffered a certain amount. However, there are ways that attorneys, insurance companies, courts and juries may arrive at a fair amount for a pain and suffering award.
Pain and suffering is considered “general damages” under Florida law. There is no precise formula that can be used to determine this type of loss. However, a number of factors may be considered when calculating damages, including the severity of injury, the type of medical treatment received, the length of recovery, prognosis, and the impact of the injury on the victim’s life.
If your lawyer is attempting to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company, he or she will use their experience and knowledge of similar cases to determine an appropriate value for your pain and suffering damages. For example, if they are aware that a local jury awarded $150,000 in pain and suffering damages for a car accident case where the plaintiff had less severe injuries and a better prognosis than what you suffered, they may use that as a basis to argue that you should receive a bigger settlement for your pain and suffering.
Although the Florida legislature recently attempted to put a limit on pain and suffering damages, the bill was withdrawn from consideration. Under current law, there is no cap on the amount of damages that an individual can receive for pain and suffering in a personal injury case.
Proving Pain and Suffering
The burden of proof for pain and suffering rests upon the shoulders of the plaintiff in a personal injury case. That is why so many of their lawyers advise them to keep a journal with relevant documentation related to one’s injuries. You can later submit your journal as supporting evidence for pain and suffering.
Aside from personal memoirs, a personal injury lawyer uses other methods for proving your case. He or she is in your corner, making them highly-vested in the outcome of your case. Types of evidence to validate your claim may include:
- verbal and written testimony
- medical results and notes
- videos and photographs
- expert and physician testimony
The amount you can recover for pain and suffering is contingent upon the extent of your injuries. Judges and jurors also consider past and future medical treatment measures, recovery time, and mental consequences associated with your injuries. It’s a complicated process to obtain the compensation you feel you deserve.
Work with a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for the Best Possible Outcome
Consider working with an attorney to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. He or she acts as a fierce advocate in your corner throughout the process. The knowledge and professional training an experienced lawyer can contribute to your claim can ensure your rights are protected while maximizing your overall claim.
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, our team of personal injury lawyers in Florida are ready to learn more about your case today. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 866-769-0123 or by sending us a quick message.