After a person suffers injuries caused by a traumatic event (such as a motor vehicle accident, nursing home abuse, or assault due to negligent security), they can generally seek pain and suffering damages in a personal injury claim.
A severe incident often leaves a victim with multiple injuries that require long-term medical care, rehabilitation, psychological counseling, and other forms of support. Their injuries may impact daily routines or have life-long consequences that alter everyday life and independence.
How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Different
Pain and suffering damages go beyond the objective costs associated with medical bills and lost wages. They are completely subjective.
It is up to the injured victim to convey their pain and the effect it has had on their life and wellbeing. A jury then must form an opinion about the value of a case based on the victim’s testimony and the jurists' collective perspective regarding their pain and suffering.
However, evidence can help quantify the extent of an injured victim’s pain and the damages they deserve. Lawyers use medical records, photos, videos, journals, and testimonies to show concrete ways a person’s life has been affected, both physically and emotionally.
Types of Pain and Suffering
There are many different ways that pain and suffering can impact a person’s life. Remember, pain and suffering damages must be claimed in addition to a claim of economic damages, such as lost earnings and medical expenses.
We’ve divided examples of pain and suffering damages a person can claim in a lawsuit into three categories: physical, emotional, and social.
Physical Pain and Suffering
Physical pain and suffering refers to both the outward and obvious damage to the body as well as the inner damage caused by an accident or event. This type of pain and suffering is best supported by photos, medical records, physical therapy records, and medication history.
Physical Pain: Any damage to the body that results in mild to severe discomfort after an accident or altercation.
Physical Impairment: Any injury that limits the ability to move, coordinate actions, or perform daily activities.
Disfigurement: An accident that causes permanent damage or alterations to a person’s body or appearance, such as losing an ear or deep scarring, would be classified as disfigurement.
Emotional Pain and Suffering
Emotional pain and suffering refers to damage or alteration to a person’s mental state or personality after an accident or a traumatic event. The changes often leave the victim distressed, despondent, hopeless, or bitter. Emotional anguish can be just as debilitating and frustrating as physical injuries.
Mental Anguish: Mental suffering includes feelings of anxiety, depression, distress, fright, grief, or lasting psychological trauma after an accident or incident.
Emotional Distress: Like mental anguish, emotional distress can encompass many different feelings and types of pain and suffering after a traumatic event, such as shock, PTSD, nightmares, and anger.
Fright: Any accident, incident, or injury that causes extreme fear that affects a person’s life may be able to receive compensation for fright.
Shock: A psychological injury triggered by experiencing an accident or witnessing gruesome injuries sustained in an accident.
Terror: The intense fear (which may manifest as a panic attack) of suffering further injury, disability, or death after an accident.
Nervousness: A change in demeanor or personality in which the injured victim becomes acutely uneasy or unnaturally nervous.
Apprehension: The incident causes fear or uncertainty that something bad could happen, limiting the victim’s ability to lead a normal life.
Anxiety: The generalized feeling or sensation of worry and unease over uncertain events or outcomes. Anxiety becomes a type of pain and suffering if it stems from an accident or altercation.
Mortification: Feeling shame, wounded pride, or extreme embarrassment after a life-changing event, usually false imprisonment.
Embarrassment: Similar to mortification, embarrassment is defined by feelings of shame and disgrace due to an incident or events afterward.
Anger: Anger can be claimed as a type of loss if the incident or accident causes persistent rage due to severe mental pain and suffering that was not present prior to the event.
Grief: Deep sorrow or sadness after a loss. If an accident results in the death, loss, or destruction of something or someone a person holds dear, they may be able to recover non-economic damages for grief.
Depression: If a person experiences a severe and sudden personality shift that affects how they feel, act, and think, they can recover compensation for depression in a personal injury claim.
Social Pain and Suffering
Social pain and suffering refers to when a victim experiences loss or distress caused directly by another person or due to an injury that negatively impacts their social activities and relationships. This type of loss may cause a person to feel isolated, unworthy, or a burden to others.
Humiliation: A person feels that they have been disgraced, belittled, and made to appear foolish after an incident.
Indignity: When a person's dignity and self-respect are insulted or damaged after an accident or altercation, indignity can be included as a form of non-economic damage. Examples of indignity include vulgarity, ill-treatment, abusive language, and intentional disrespect by another person.
Damage to Reputation: Defined as someone making false statements about the victim’s reputation that causes their friends, family, or community to view them in an unfavorable light.
Inconvenience: If an event or accident creates hardship, injustice, or hampers daily activities, work, or the ability to interact with loved ones, a victim can cite inconvenience as a type of pain and suffering.
Ordeal: A painful, traumatic, or horrifying situation that lasts for a long time or longer than expected.
Loss of Enjoyment/Quality of Life: When an event severely alters a person’s life or ability to participate in activities and hobbies they enjoyed prior to the injury, they can receive compensation for the loss. For example, paralysis or a traumatic brain injury could reduce a person’s ability to enjoy life; thus, they could claim loss of quality of life.
Loss of Companionship: Also known as loss consortium, this type of pain and suffering refers to when a victim loses the ability to show proper affection and care for their spouse and children.
Sexual Dysfunction: If a victim struggles to return to their normal level of sexual activity after an accident, they can cite sexual dysfunction as a form of pain and suffering.
How Much Compensation Can Be Awarded for Pain and Suffering?
There is no predetermined amount or guideline for estimating the amount of pain and suffering damages a victim may expect to receive. Award amounts, types of claims, and damage caps depend on the state where the incident occurred. In Georgia, there is no cap on pain and suffering compensation.
It is up to a jury to award a fair amount to a plaintiff suing for pain and suffering damages. A judge may modify the amount if they think the pain and suffering award is too low or too excessive, although this is uncommon.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Pain and Suffering Settlement
Pain and suffering settlements are determined on a case-by-case basis. Put yourself and your family in the best position possible to receive the maximum amount you need by consulting and hiring an experienced personal injury attorney.
At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we know how to prove non-economic damages after a traumatic accident or event. Our team works to capture the victim’s testimony, visual evidence, statements from friends and family, medical records, testimony from the treating physician, and psychiatric and physiological evaluations. We gather all of the evidence and show how your life has changed due to your injuries and the accident.
Your physical suffering and emotional anguish shouldn’t be ignored. You deserve a top settlement that will take care of you and your family.
To learn more about filing a personal injury claim for pain and suffering, contact our Atlanta personal injury law office today.