“Pain and Suffering” is a common phrase in vehicle accident cases of all different types. But what does pain and suffering mean and how does a jury assign a figure to it?
In accident cases, victims normally get damages that can be easily quantified. These include medical bills and lost wages. The medical bills cover doctor visits, hospital stays, medical tests, medical equipment, and medications. All of these bills come with a charge from the doctor, hospital, pharmacist, or whoever takes the test or provides the equipment. The key test is whether the bill is reasonable. Reasonable, for the most part, means within the accepted range for services or products of that kind. Likewise, lost wages can be quantified. Essentially, the time off from work is multiplied by the number of work weeks lost. Other factors, like lost benefits can also be quantified.
Pain and suffering is not quantified. It can vary from judge to judge, insurance company to insurance company, and jury to jury. It is meant to compensate the victim for the pain of medical procedures and for the pain of daily living with the injury. Other factors can include the loss of enjoyment of activities such as being able to play with a child or grandchild or to engage in an activity that was usually performed before the accident. Activity examples could include dancing with a spouse or just playing cards.
Pain can include worry or nervousness about the ability to get better, physical therapy, or embarrassment because of a scar. Generally, it helps if the physicians treating the patient can show a failure to perform objective tests. Objective tests can range from failed MRIs or X-Rays to just a failure of motion – not being able to move one’s arm above one’s head.
Some States, such as North Carolina, allow the attorney to argue to the jury about pain and suffering using something called the per diem argument. This is a way of helping the jury quantify the pain and suffering by putting a daily value on what someone might pay to be free of the pain and suffering that is experienced by the Plaintiff. Particularly if there is a medically documented, permanent injury with ongoing, permanent pain, this can be a very effective type of argument which places a very large figure in front of the jury.
Unfortunately, Virginia does not permit per diem arguments; however, we have been successful in utilizing various creative means to illustrate the particular pain experience of our clients to Virginia juries based on the evidence which is unique to each case.
A good personal injury lawyer will know the main factors for showing your pain and your suffering.
Many lawyers can handle the easy cases. Joe Miller Esq. tackles hard cases and has had success with these tough cases, and he knows how to present the pain and suffering you have endured to a jury. You can reach him at Joe Miller Law, Ltd., by calling (888) 694-1671.