Pain and suffering may be one of the most difficult parts of an injury to explain to your friends, family, or a jury. If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s often easy to explain that you have a broken bone or an open wound.
Yet, helping someone to understand how much your arm hurts or the emotional distress you experienced after the accident is more challenging. But even if these things are harder to explain, they should still be part of your accident claim.
What Is “Pain and Suffering?”
“Pain and suffering” is a legal term that defines the intangible losses that you’ve suffered because of an accident-related injury. The court calls these non-economic losses because they are subjective and often do not have an associated measurable dollar amount.
For example, you have receipts for X-rays, doctor’s visits, and casting after breaking a bone. However, the pain associated with breaking the bone, the time it takes for the bone to heal, and your emotional distress that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the accident, do not have a measurable dollar amount attached.
The term “pain and suffering” also encompasses how the injury has impacted your life. For example, if you received a concussion during a car accident, the pain of headaches and the inability to work are non-economic losses.
Documenting Evidence of Pain and Suffering
Unfortunately, because pain and suffering are subjective and there are no monetary receipts, these losses can be more difficult to demonstrate and quantify. The pain experience is entirely subjective, which makes proving pain and suffering more challenging than proving verifiable economic losses.
However, there are ways to document your loss so your personal injury attorney can present your case clearly during negotiations with the insurance company or when litigating in court.
Daily journal: The best proof you have of the impact your accident-related injury has on your life is your own words. In a daily journal, you can record how the injury has affected your activities and assign a pain score daily or twice daily to indicate how much pain you’re in.
Medical professionals use a ten-point scale, with zero being no pain at all and ten being the worst pain you’ve ever felt. Consider ranking your pain and recording it in your journal. Also, record how you felt, what you could or could not do, and how long it took for pain medication to be effective.
Medical records: During your visits with your doctor and specialists, tell them how the injury has affected your daily living activities and your emotional health. Discuss any feelings of frustration, loss of enjoyment of life, depression, or anxiety.
These challenges are recorded in your medical record, along with your physical experience of pain. Your attorney can use copies of your medical records to support your personal injury claim. Aside from physical pain, you may also have trouble sleeping. If your doctor orders a sleeping pill, that’s medical documentation of insomnia or chronic nightmares.
If your physician writes a referral for you to see a counselor to treat anxiety, depression, or PTSD, that’s documentation of the mental pain and suffering you experience while recovering from your accident-related injuries.
Your medical record also includes records from any psychologist or counselor you may see. With your permission, they can speak in generalities about the type of emotional injury you experienced and your recovery.
Expert witness testimony: Your personal injury attorney may arrange for an expert witness to testify about the pain and suffering you have experienced that was related to the accident. For example, your counselor may testify about your PTSD, or a burn specialist may testify about the pain and rehabilitation associated with severe burns.
Personal property: Preserve the items of clothing or other personal property that may help illustrate the injuries you experienced. For example, you may keep ripped or bloodied clothing after a dog attack or car accident, broken glasses after a head injury, or dented motorcycle or bicycle helmet after a motor vehicle accident. Keep this evidence in a plastic bin or Ziploc bag that has been dated and signed. Never give this to the insurance company.
Reports from friends and family: Consider getting statements from friends and family about your emotional and physical condition before the accident as compared to after the accident. These statements should be signed and notarized. Pain and suffering is a subjective measure, and your family can help paint a picture of how it has altered your life.
How We Can Help
If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, you want an experienced and compassionate attorney fighting for your right to secure fair compensation. Contact the Lake Charles personal injury attorneys of Veron Bice, LLC today at 337-310-1600. You can schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We’ll listen to the details of your case and answer your questions.