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What Are Pain & Suffering Damages?


In a Florida personal injury lawsuit, most of the costs a plaintiff is seeking are tangible, meaning that they are repayments of existing bills. For example, a plaintiff may sue for $20,000 because that is how much they had to spend on medical bills. However, in some suits, plaintiffs may sue for less tangible causes of action, such as loss of quality of life or pain and suffering. It can be confusing as to how this is done or why this is allowed, given how difficult if not impossible it can be to quantify something like that. If you have been injured, though, it is possible to seek damages on these bases, especially if you have indeed experienced significant pain and suffering.

Two Types of Damages

In Florida, a personal injury lawsuit can possibly net a plaintiff two different types of damages. One of them is called economic damages, and these are generally the tangible bills – the medical expenses, the transportation costs, and the like. Anything that can be quantified will generally be classified as economic damages. Non-economic damages, by comparison, are the injuries one has demonstrably suffered that are less quantifiable – for example, pain and suffering. In most personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff can easily show that they have experienced serious pain and suffering, out of line with the ordinary expectations of life, and it is this unusual nature that makes the law consider it compensable.

Pain and suffering are considered non-economic, “general” damages – that is, the law recognizes pain and suffering as something that a plaintiff might be compensated for. However, as one might imagine, it is extremely difficult to quantify pain and suffering, simply because there are so many undefined and subjective factors that would have to go into such a calculation. There is physical pain and how it affects a person’s quality of life, but there are also mental and emotional pain and suffering, which can manifest in anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and many other conditions that all might contribute to a plaintiff’s quality of life decreasing.

How To Find A Number?

There are multiple factors that can be considered under Florida law in determining a person’s pain and suffering damages, should a fact-finder be inclined to award them. The nature and severity of the injury, the length of the recovery period, any long-term impact on the person’s life (such as having to change jobs, for example) are among the many that are taken into account when trying to give pain and suffering a monetary value. However, these factors are not the only thing that should drive the decision, because every accident case is unique, and every person experiences pain differently. An injury that would keep one person bedridden for months might sideline another person for mere weeks, or vice versa. Each case must be assessed as it comes.

Be advised that certain types of personal injury cases do have other requirements that must be met. For instance, in auto accident cases, Florida law sets out what are called “threshold requirements” that must be met before you are able to make a claim for any type of non-economic damages against an allegedly negligent party. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that in most auto accident cases, drivers make claims with their insurers rather than suing someone in court. However, if your accident meets at least one of these threshold requirements, you are permitted to bring suit because your accident is considered particularly severe. Generally, if your injuries rise to the level of (1) “significant and permanent loss” of an important bodily function; (2) permanent injury, scarring, or disfigurement; or (3) death, your case will be permitted to go forward.

Call A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

The days and weeks after an accident can be frightening, especially if you have been grievously injured and are not sure how to seek compensation for your bills. The Tampa personal injury lawyers at Rinaldo Law Group can sit down with you and try to help you make sense of the process. Call our office today at 813-831-9999 for a free consultation.




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