What Qualifies as Symptoms of “Pain and Suffering” for Compensation?

Demonstrating the amount of economic damages that a person suffered in an accident is a relatively straightforward process. A plaintiff need only provide receipts for medical expenses, vehicle repair or replacement, and proof of lost wages to establish the amount of monetary damage suffered as a result of the accident. Demonstrating the pain and suffering caused by an accident, however, is much more difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of calculations and tests in place in South Carolina that can help juries determine the appropriate amount of noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, to award a plaintiff, so if you were recently injured in an accident and suffered an injury as a result, it is critical to retain the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you collect compensation for the harm you suffered.

Noneconomic Damages

In South Carolina, noneconomic damages are defined as the non-pecuniary damages that arise from being injured in an accident and can include any of the following:

  • Pain;
  • Suffering;
  • Inconvenience;
  • Physical impairment;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of society and companionship;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Injury to reputation;
  • Humiliation;
  • Fear of loss;
  • Illness; or
  • Injury.

Defining Pain and Suffering

Generally, pain and suffering is understood to mean the stress a person experiences as a result of the injuries he or she sustained in an accident and can include:

  • Physical pain; and
  • Emotional or psychological trauma.

Emotional trauma often manifests as insomnia, fear, depression, guilt, and anxiety. These feelings can even affect an individual’s ability to heal from his or her physical injuries. A person suffering from these problems may be required to take prescription medications or enlist the aid of a therapist to overcome his or her trauma.

Although the amount of pain and suffering damages is calculated separately from lost wages and medical expenses, these damages can come into play in a determination of how much pain and suffering a person endured. For example, if someone who was injured in a car accident did not seek medical treatment after the crash, a court will be skeptical of whether he or she endured a significant amount of pain and suffering as a result of the accident. For this reason, it is extremely important for car accident victims to:

  • Get immediate medical attention after an accident; and
  • Retain detailed documentation of medical costs and other expenses related to a person’s pain and suffering.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Courts usually use one of two methods to calculate pain and suffering damages. One of the most common approaches is to add up a person’s economic losses and then multiply that number by a specific number ranging from one to five. The multiplier used depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The seriousness of the plaintiff’s injuries;
  • The time required to make a complete recovery;
  • The impact of the injuries on the injured party’s daily life; and
  • The percentage of fault that can be attributed to the other party.

The second approach is known as the per diem method and requires the payment of a certain dollar amount, usually the amount of a person’s daily earnings, for every day that a person had to live with the pain caused by an accident. This method is used more often for calculating damages involving short-term injuries.

Necessary Documentation

Regardless of which method is used to determine pain and suffering, an injured party will be required to provide evidence supporting his or her claim. This means that accident victims should retain detailed and extensive records related to the incident and their injuries, including:

  • Medical reports;
  • Receipts for prescribed medications;
  • Over-the-counter receipts;
  • Medical bills for physical therapy, ambulance costs, diagnostic tests, emergency room visits, surgeries, and follow-up visits;
  • Evidence of lost wages;
  • A record of all medical treatment, pain suffered, and missed opportunities; and
  • Photos of the injuries.

This documentation will go a long way towards establishing the amount of pain that a person suffered as a result of a crash.

Contact a Dedicated Clinton Personal Injury Attorney Today

Being injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness can take a significant physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families. Fortunately, those who cause accidents can and should be held responsible for the harm suffered by the victim, so if you or a loved one live in the Clinton area and were recently injured in an accident, please contact the Joye Law Firm by calling (888) 324-3100 or by completing and submitting one of our standard contact forms and we will help you set-up a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help explain your legal options.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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