What are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Girls Crying

Generally, plaintiffs in negligence cases may claim damages for bodily injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and property damages. Pennsylvania law allows the spouse of an injured plaintiff may make a claim for loss of consortium as well.

In a lawsuit, pain and suffering refers to a form of damages that are awarded to a plaintiff who has experienced either a mental or physical injury, and seeks monetary damages for their “pain and suffering.”  The damages may be considered as part of the “general damages” that are part of the plaintiff’s claim. Alternatively, they can be classified according to “compensatory damages” that are unrelated to the economic losses suffered by the plaintiff.

Examples of Pain and Suffering

There are many types of injuries that fall under the category of “pain and suffering.” This includes any pain or discomfort that is felt in connection with the original injury. For example, a person may have suffered an actual broken bone due to a person’s negligence. Pain and suffering damages will allow the person to collect for the emotional trauma that may have accompanied the injury. However, the plaintiff must show that sufficient connection between the actual injury and the pain and suffering injuries.

Pain and suffering is commonly awarded when the plaintiff is experiencing:

  • Aches or pains in the body;
  • Depression, mental strain, or other emotional trauma and scarring;
  • Potential shortening of life;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Temporary or permanent limitations on personal activities and endeavors;
  • Past/future pain and suffering; or
  • Humiliation/Embarrassment.

PA Law

A person can collect pain and suffering damages in Pennsylvania. The courts have held that pain is compensable, and thereby a plaintiff can seek relief. So long as the pain and suffering is traceable to actual, obvious injuries, then damages can be awarded. The jury is tasked with responsibility of weighing the credibility of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. A subjective, rather than objective, standard is used to determine if damages should be awarded. However, as always, a jury is not required to believe the plaintiff’s account, and may deny or award fewer pain and suffering damages.

The jury will consider multiple factors in determining the amount of compensation: the duration of the pain and suffering; the extent of actual, mental and emotional pain; and the degree of physical impairment.

There are limitations to the award of pain and suffering damages. One involves automobile policies where the policyholder has elected for a “limited tort” option. This means the person will not be automatically entitled to compensation, rather the plaintiff will have to show she suffered a serious injury, as provided by Pennsylvania case law. Another exception applies when the government is involved. Due to certain statutory provisions, the government is generally immune from liability unless an exception applies.

Have you been injured in an accident? It is best to consult with an attorney for legal advice. The attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC have represented dozens of client in personal injury cases. Contact our office for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights at 215-481-9979.

Photo Credit: Geoff LMV via Compfight cc