What is Pain and Suffering?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

Something that is discussed a great deal in personal injury cases is how much the injured person should be compensated for their, “pain and suffering.”  That phrase certainly sounds serious, but what does that term actually mean?

Pain and suffering can be defined in a number of different ways.  For example, let’s say that someone breaks their foot and it causes them to have both short-term and long-term issues.  In the short-term, they may have to use crutches or a brace; but long-term, they may not ever fully recover and they may not be able to do some of the things that they have done their whole life, like play basketball or do yard work.

Those kind of physical difficulties after an accident are part of someone’s claim for pain and suffering.

Some individuals want to talk about mental or emotional pain and suffering they have experienced because of their accident.  Mental pain and suffering is harder to define and prove.  It is a whole lot easier to see how someone is physically affected by an accident, but it is not nearly as easy to prove how someone has been mentally affected by an accident, especially if they have not gone to see anyone to address what they claim is their mental suffering.

Someone may say they are depressed or now have anxiety any time that they drive.  That may actually all be true, but it is hard to prove, and to know how much that is worth as part of a claim for pain and suffering.

What is a claim for pain and suffering worth?  It’s hard to say.  There are no rules through the court system to guide a jury as to how much someone should be paid for the pain and suffering they are experiencing and may continue to experience because of an accident.

If someone is rendered unable to walk for the rest of their lives, but they can still work a desk job, what is the value of their claim for the pain and suffering they are absolutely going to experience for the rest of their lives?

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.

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