How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Proved in a Personal Injury Case?
People who suffer injury because of another party’s negligent or purposeful actions can usually recover money damages for their medical expenses, lost wages and other provable economic losses. More challenging is putting a dollar value on the pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life or other intangible injuries you experienced or will experience due to a car crash, slip and fall or other accident.
Since you do not have medical bills or other documents to quantify these non-economic damages, you need to supply other evidence about how the injuries significantly impacted you and will continue to do so.
Personal injury lawyers use the testimony of expert witnesses and other parties to demonstrate to juries the extent to which an accident has affected an injured victim. Such witnesses may include:
- medical specialists who can speak to the pain typically experienced for the type of injury, the length of time needed to recover and whether full recovery is possible. These experts can also testify to the type and duration of treatment required and to its associated discomfort and side effects
- mental health professionals who can discuss the ways a specific injury and its aftermath can result in emotional and mental changes
- friends and family who can talk about how the victim’s life changed as a result of the injuries. For example, the person may no longer be able to participate in the activities and hobbies that previously provided enjoyment and fulfillment
- employers or employment specialists who can describe how the injuries affected the victim’s ability to perform their former work
In medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is especially necessary due to the difficulty in ascertaining the pain and suffering of a patient who may have been unconscious or comatose.
In cases of fatal accidents, expert testimony can be used to establish the victim’s pain and suffering prior to death as well as the effect of the death on family members. A $7.6 million jury verdict in a Morgantown, West Virginia wrongful death case illustrates how testimony can be used to prove pain and suffering. A 20-year-old woman died six hours after a drunk driver struck her in January 2016. At trial in her wrongful death case, the jury heard testimony from the two medical professionals who treated her about the pain she likely suffered before death. Additional testimony from the victim’s parents and sister recited their mental anguish and grief. The jury awarded $500,000 for her pain and suffering and $3 million for the effects of her death on her family. Medical expenses, lost earnings and punitive damages made up the rest of the $7.6 million award.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of another person’s negligence or other wrongful conduct, speak to a qualified personal injury attorney to learn how damages for pain and suffering might be recoverable. At Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC in Bridgeport, West Virginia, our lawyers can advise and represent you. For a free initial consultation, call us at 304-842-4300 or contact us online.