What is “Pain and Suffering” in a Personal Injury Claim?

News stories about lawsuits or jury awards for “pain and suffering” are often misunderstood.  Make no mistake – they are “real” results of physical injuries and worthy of compensation.  personal injury claim
Nonetheless, a little explanation might help you gain a better understanding.

The concept of “pain and suffering” is meant to capture the numerous results of a physical injury, aside from the injury itself.  One easy example is a broken arm resulting from a car crash.  The broken arm can be seen on an x-ray and can be healed through treatment, like a cast or even orthopedic surgery if severe.  The pain caused by the fracture, however, is not so easy to see or treat.  It is nonetheless real, and also harmful.  Likewise, the suffering – such as the adjustments to a daily routine caused by an arm in a cast or the lack of sleep due to the pain, as just two examples – is also not so easy to see or treat.  The American legal system, however, recognizes that these things are meaningful, and seeks to compensate an injured victim fully.

At the end of a jury trial, the jurors are generally “instructed” on the law by the judge.  The trial judge will often describe compensation for pain and suffering along the lines of the following:

Such categories of “pain and suffering” damages include physical pain and discomfort, physical limitation or loss or restriction in the normal use of a body part, difficulty with normal activities of daily living arising from injury, and mental or emotional suffering, anxiety or worry.

Modern medicine certainly recognizes that pain is real.  It is sometimes described as the “fifth vital sign” (in addition to pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and temperature) and numerous medical treatments are available to treat pain.  Suffering is likewise real.  Think of the turmoil in a person’s life caused by an injury that causes them to be bedridden, or to wonder if they will ever recover, or to worry that they will need yet another surgery.  A serious personal injury has deep and long-lasting effects that ripple through a victim’s life in profound ways.  Our laws seek to recognize that all of those effects should be considered in a lawsuit, and fully compensated when appropriate.

If you enjoy reading about important legal topics, please explore the other areas of our blog and our website.  If you or a loved one has been an unfortunate victim of someone else’s carelessness – whether it is a vehicle accident, poor medical treatment, or unsafe conditions at a place of business or other activity – please contact the trial lawyers at Decof, Decof & Barry in Providence, Rhode Island.  We can help.

Video Profile

Decof, Decof & Barry

Schedule a Free Consultation

We work for clients on a contingency fee arrangement, which means you pay no legal fee or costs unless we obtain a verdict or settlement for you.

Firm News and Events
Decof, Decof & Barry Wins $32M for Iraq War Veteran Left Paralyzed after a Swimming Accident at the University of Rhode Island
Read More
Decof, Decof & Barry Recognized among Best Law Firms by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®
Read More
Attorneys of Rhode Island Law Firm Decof, Decof & Barry Named Super Lawyers & Rising Stars
Read More
From our Blog
Are You a Victim of Misprescription and Drug Addiction?

June 12, 2018

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose (poisoning) deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). The CDC recently analyzed multiple cause-of-death mortality data to examine current trends and characteristics…

Read More

How to Legally Prevent Unexpected Medical Bills

May 22, 2018

Nationwide nearly one in three Americans with private insurance received a surprise medical bill between 2014 and 2016. A surprise medical bill is an unexpected bill from an out–of–network provider or from a provider not chosen by a patient. Surprise medical billing happens when a patient goes to a hospital, emergency room or doctor’s office…

Read More

What are the Time Limits to Make a Wrongful Death Case?

May 8, 2018

In Rhode Island, the legislature has enacted the Rhode Island Wrongful Death Statute, also referred to as the Death by Wrongful Act (Law § 10-7-1, et. Seq). There are different sections within the Wrongful Death Act in Rhode Island detailing the following aspects: the types of damages recoverable, by whom the damages are recoverable, who…

Read More

Contact form