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If you have been physically injured and are making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit, you may be entitled to a form of non-economic damages called pain and suffering. In this article, we will define “pain and suffering” and explain the role it plays in several areas of law including personal injury, auto accident, DUI, and medical malpractice.

Key Takeaways

  • Pain and suffering is a legal term referring to the physical pain and emotional distress endured by a victim
  • Victims are eligible for compensation for their pain and suffering as a form of non-economic damages

What Is Pain and Suffering?

In law, pain and suffering is a term referring to injuries both physical and emotional. They can be compensated for as noneconomic damages. The umbrella term “pain and suffering” may include physical pain, discomfort, emotional anguish, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, inconvenience, trauma, and so on. 

People are compensated for pain and suffering from an understanding that a physical injury results in damage far beyond the monetary losses related to medical bills and lost wages, but rather extends to a painful physical and emotional toll. As such, individuals who sue others for causing an injury can seek damages for pain and suffering.

Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Law

One area of law in which pain and suffering often plays a role is personal injury law, where victims are injured in a variety of situations such as slip and fall accidents or dog attacks.

For example, if somebody was in a store where there was an unmarked wet area and they slipped, fell, and ruptured a disc, they would be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the store who failed to mark the dangerous area. As part of this claim, they may request compensation for pain and suffering damages.

Pain and Suffering in Auto Accidents

Pain and suffering is also a common form of damages compensated for in auto accident cases. Motor vehicle accidents frequently lead to serious injuries that can cause significant emotional and physical pain. When a person makes a claim for compensation to the auto insurance of the party at fault for their accident, they can include pain and suffering damages in this claim.

Pain and Suffering in DUI Law

Similarly, drivers and passengers injured in an auto accident caused by an intoxicated driver are eligible to make a claim for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. Because these cases involve one party who can be proven to have been breaking the law, causing the accident, they tend to be much easier to win and receive the damages requested.  

Pain and Suffering in Medical Malpractice

A final area in which pain and suffering plays a role is medical malpractice. This is when a health care provider does not meet the standard of care of their profession and it causes injury to a patient. It can happen in numerous ways, from wrong diagnoses to surgical errors to prescribing the wrong medicine. 

Often, in medical malpractice, the pain and suffering is even more significant than the economic damages. For example, if a patient spent a year believing they had one condition only to find out that they had been misdiagnosed, they may have significantly suffered emotionally during that time even if they were not spending a lot of money on extra medical treatment or missing work.

In cases in all areas of law, an experienced lawyer can help make a strong case for why you are entitled to be compensated for the pain and suffering you experienced. They will be able to help you gather convincing evidence to make your case and get you the compensation you deserve.

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