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Legal Definition of Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

By Greg Kohn

Living in the aftermath of an accident is often an incredibly challenging experience. The physical pain, emotional distress, and disruption to your life can impact your well-being. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this journey. 

Understanding the concept of “pain and suffering” in legal terms is crucial to seeking the compensation you deserve. However, pain and suffering encompass much more than just physical injuries. In this blog post, our New Jersey personal injury attorneys dive into the legal definition of pain and suffering.

The Two Faces of Pain and Suffering

“Pain and suffering” covers a broad spectrum of injuries a victim might endure following an accident. It’s not just about the immediate physical pain, like the sharp agony of a broken bone or the throbbing ache of internal organ damage. It’s also about the long-term effects, the chronic conditions that persist for weeks, months, or even years. 

But pain and suffering isn’t confined to the physical realm. It extends to the emotional and psychological injuries that can be just as debilitating, if not more so. 

Let’s explore some common types of pain and suffering that victims might experience:

Physical Pain and Suffering:

  • Chronic Pain: Persistent pain that lasts for months or even years after the accident.
  • Disability: Permanent or temporary loss of function of a body part or system.
  • Disfigurement: Permanent scarring or other changes to physical appearance.
  • Loss of Consortium: Loss of companionship or the ability to have a normal marital relationship due to injuries.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Inability to enjoy daily activities and hobbies that were once a part of the victim’s life before the accident.

Emotional Pain and Suffering:

  • Depression: Feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in life.
  • Anxiety: Excessive worry, nervousness, or unease, often about an uncertain outcome.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Severe anxiety and flashbacks triggered by the traumatic event.
  • Loss of Companionship: The emotional suffering experienced due to the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death case.

Each of these types of pain and suffering can significantly impact a victim’s quality of life, and they are all considered when determining compensation in a personal injury case.

The Role of Negligence in Proving Pain and Suffering

In the realm of personal injury law, negligence plays a pivotal role in proving pain and suffering. When a person fails to act with reasonable care and causes harm to another, they can be held legally responsible for the damages they cause. This includes not only tangible losses like medical bills and lost wages but also the intangible pain and suffering the victim endures.

To successfully claim pain and suffering in a lawsuit, it’s crucial to establish the defendant’s negligence. Here’s how the four elements of negligence come into play:

  • Duty of Care: First, it must be shown that the person had a legal obligation to act in a certain way. For example, drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and obey traffic laws.
  • Breach of Duty: Next, you must prove the defendant failed to uphold this duty. A driver who texts while driving, for example, is breaching their duty of care.
  • Causation: The third step is linking the defendant’s breach of duty to the plaintiff’s injuries. If the texting driver causes a collision that results in injuries, this element is satisfied.
  • Damages: Finally, you must demonstrate that you suffered harm as a result of the defendant’s actions. This includes physical injuries, emotional trauma, and monetary damages from property damage and medical bills.

By proving these elements, a plaintiff can make a strong case for compensation for their pain and suffering. A seasoned personal injury attorney can take you through this process, ensuring 

your case is as strong as possible.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney: Your Advocate and Guide

A personal injury attorney is more than just a legal professional. They’re your advocate, your guide, and your support system throughout this challenging process. They get the nuances of the law and will fight tirelessly for your rights. They’ll work to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

If you’re coping with the aftermath of an accident and are struggling with pain and suffering, remember you don’t have to face it alone. Contact a New Jersey personal injury attorney today. Let us help you navigate this challenging time, fight for the justice you deserve, and take the first step toward healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.