How to Prove Pain and Suffering Damages After an Accident


If you’ve been hurt in a recent accident because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault party. After establishing fault in a slip-and-fall, car accidents, medical malpractice claim or any other personal injury matter, you may be wondering if you can get compensated for “pain and suffering damages.”

What are “damages” in a personal injury case?

The term “damages” can be referred to any financial loss that you you are undergoing due to the accident. After establishing fault, your personal injury attorney will help walk you through the steps to recovering for damages. You will need to be able to prove any financial loss in order to claim the money in damages that you will need to get your life back on track post-accident.

Damages generally include items that can be calculated like medical bills, but there are non-economic damage claims such as “pain and suffering” that you may also be familiar with. 

Because pain and suffering is difficult to calculate, it can be a little more challenging to prove since there is no bill or calculable measurement to work off of. 

An injury lawyer can help guide you through how to recover losses for pain and suffering. Read on for a basic understanding of how we calculate damages for pain and suffering after an accident. 

After an accident, Florida law states that the injured party may ask through a jury trial to to compensate them for both economic and non-economic damages. 

What is pain and suffering?

The legal term pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional stress that is caused by an injury. Damages that fall under “pain and suffering” could be things like emotional distress including depression, limitations on life activity, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, mental anguish, disability, and scarring that has been experienced in the past or is expected for the future.

Receiving financial relief for pain and suffering after an accident is essential financial compensation for being put in a situation that has brought on negative life-altering situations that otherwise would not have happened if it weren’t for the accident or injury. 

Compensation for pain and suffering could be for minor or major incidents. For minor incidents, the compensation is likely for the inconvenience but in major cases, it is for suffering and agony that has and will be endured. 

Florida Standard Jury Instruction 501.2 states that there is no exact standard for measuring damages like this and the amount should be “fair and just” in the light of the evidence. 

Special and General Damages in a Personal Injury Case

There are two different types of damages involved that you may hear about when involved in a personal injury case. The first one is general damages and the second is special damages. Because of these two almost counter-intuitive types of damages, it makes making a personal injury claim a little more tricky. 

General damages refer to damages that are no specifically monetary. These types of pain and suffering damages could include emotional trauma or loss of consortium. These are still considered losses in a personal injury case, but are difficult to put a dollar amount on because there is no tangible bills or specific defined compensation amount for emotional damage. 

Special damages are on the contrary. With special damages, we can place a monetary value on like lost wages and medical expenses. Special damages are the injured party’s out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred due to the accident or injury. 

Because of general damages, personal injury claims are not so clear cut and this is what makes pain and suffering claims so difficult to calculate. 

Example of a Pain and Suffering Claim

A good example of someone who may have experienced both general and special damages could be someone who has been through a severe car accident that has given them a physical injury or impairment and even lowered the quality of life (i.e. having to rely on others and lack of mobility.) Someone who has been disabled in an accident would be able to prove special damages through their medical bills and would also have a strong pain and suffering claim due to their damped quality of life now that they are disabled. 

In other cases, Wrongful Death often lead to loss of companionship which is also a strong example of general damages. 

When do insurance companies compensate for pain and suffering?

In most cases where the at-fault party was clearly at fault, the injured party will be compensated for some of their pain and suffering. Most insurance companies do recognize the inconvenience and significant impact that car accidents have on our everyday lives, but often the dollar amount of which they decide to compensate is very low. With the proper legal representation for pain and suffering, you are likely to reach a more acceptable sum for your damages. 

When deciding on what to pay out for pain and suffering, insurance companies look at the following factors:

  1. Severity of the injuries
  2. The overall pain and discomfort associated with the injuries
  3. How the injuries from the accident have impacted your career, relationship, and life
  4. The cost and types of medical treatment your injuries require
  5. The timeline in which it takes your injuries to heal
  6. If you will need future care for your injuries i.e. medication, surgeries, or therapy

How to Prove Pain and Suffering Damages

When you are planning to make a claim of pain and suffering after an accident or during your personal injury case, it is important to document evidence. Documentation is key! You need to document both your pain and your suffering separately. You can support your claim and prove pain and suffering many ways including:

  1. A written opinion from a mental health expert or professional that testifies to your shook and injured state of mind. 
  2. A written or documented opinion of a doctor that testifies to the pain you are enduring due to the accident.
  3. Documentation of prescription medications (for physical or mental issues)
  4. Your own oral or written testimony to your pain and suffering can be impactful for a jury

Properly illustrating your pain and suffering damages at trial is essential to be adequately compensated for your damages. It is important to be sure that you have an aggressive and detail-oriented attorney on your side to ensure you get the most out of your claim. 

At Pipas Law, we work contingently on if we get you paid. That means, there is no cost to you whatsoever unless we get you money for your case. 

Let us help you prove your damages so you can get your life back on track. 

Feel free to call me, Attorney Chris Waters, or any of my colleagues here at Pipas Law and we will do whatever it takes to get you the most compensation for your case. 

st. petersburg accident lawyer chris waters

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