Pain, Suffering & Emotional Distress
Pain, suffering, and emotional distress refer to various physical, emotional, and psychological harms a person may suffer as a result of physical injury caused by the negligence of another person or business entity. The law often refers t these types of injuries and harm as "general damages." This means the damages are general in nature, and have no specific economic value associated with them, as do "special damages." Special damages are those for which a value can be reasonably calculated, such as medical costs, loss of income, and cost of services. Refer to other headings for more specific discussions.
Pain & Suffering
Pain is normally associated with physical pain caused by a physical injury, condition, or their treatment. Compensation is recoverable for pain which is due to physical injury or it's treatment, and which is caused by the negligence of another person or business entity. Pain is normally a self assessed, personal response or reaction to injury, and may range from minor to severe, and temporary or permanent. Those who suffer pain are often asked by health care providers to rate their pain on a scale of 0 - 10, where 0 represents no pain, and 10, the worst a person could imagine. Pain is a reaction of the body to various stimuli, which causes the nervous system to send "pain signals" to the brain. Pain from physical injury may include that from: orthopedic injury, such as broken bones and injured muscles and connective tissues; injured organs such as the skin, externally, and liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, etc., internally; and, injured nerves, themselves. Pain may also result form health conditions that may be caused or exacerbated (worsened) by the negligence of others, such as arthritis, heart disease; lung disease; and cancers. Headaches may be due to orthopedic (neck) injury; nerve (brain) injury; and other health conditions, such as hypertension, any of which may be a result of the negligence of another. Pain may also be caused by treatment of injuries, or health conditions caused or worsened by the negligence of another, such as: surgery; setting a broken bone; drug therapy; and, physical therapy.
Suffering is a broad and general term use in connection with pain and various forms of emotional distress. Suffering occurs when a person is undergoing or is in a state of pain and/or emotional distress.
Emotional distress is the emotional and psychological injury and harm a person may suffer as a result of physical injury caused by the negligence of another person or business entity. Emotional distress includes: depression; loss of self esteem; loss of enjoyment of life; loss of companionship; and may cause or contribute to dependencies. The law often refers t these types of injuries and harm as "general damages." This means the damages are general in nature, and have no specific economic value associated with them, as do "special damages." General damages are personal in nature, and unique to each individual. s Special damages are those for which a value can be reasonably calculated, such as medical costs, loss of income, and cost of services. Refer to other headings for more specific discussions.
Emotional distress resulting from an injury or loss may include changes in a person's mental and emotional state. Mood swings often occur in people who have suffered a serious injury or loss. Unfortunately, for some, the effects become more than a temporary condition. Depression is a clinically diagnosed medical condition in which a person suffers from extended periods of low mood. Symptoms of depression vary, but often include: sadness; emptiness; negativity; detachment; loss of energy, drive, and focus; decreased functionality at home and in the workplace; loss of interest in persons and recreational or social activities; loss of appetite; and sleep disorder. Unfortunately, personal injury claims and related legal activities can increase stress. Depression can become a serious mental and physical health issue, and can and should be clinically treated by an appropriate health care provider.
Emotional distress resulting from an injury or loss may include changes in a person's mental and emotional state. Unfortunately, various type of dependencies can also occur in people who have suffered a serious injury or loss. Pain control may lead to dependency on prescription medication. Self medication with legal or illegal substances can also occur. Often to their detriment, many find over-indulging in their favorite foods to be a substitute for other activities they can no longer enjoy. Some find comfort in various forms of treatment or therapy, and find it difficult to leave it behind when medical objectives are reached. Dependencies create a difficult issue to deal with in personal injury claims, as the concept and term "dependency" most often raises negative inferences about the nature or character of a person.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Emotional distress resulting from an injury or loss may include loss of enjoyment of life and lifestyle. This includes the effect of an injury on a claimant's quality, quantity, or frequency of participation in life's various activities. Physical injury may affect an ability to enjoy individual and group activities. Individuals vary in their activities. Some spend time gardening or tinkering at a workbench, while others enjoy recreational or competitive activities and sports. Brain injury may affect both physical and intellectual activities such as enjoying art or music, or playing board or card games. The short term loss of abilities can lead to acute emotional distress, that passes as abilities are recovered. Long term and permanent loss of abilities may cause a deep and lasting distress that often results in various degrees of clinical depression. Many persons self identify with a hobby or a group oriented activity to an extent that their inability to continue to do so leaves them with a great emotional void. Photos, videos, and records of any personal, group, or organized activity or hobby may be used, in addition to testimony from relatives and friends, are important in proving claims for loss of enjoyment of life.
Loss of Self Esteem
Emotional distress resulting from an injury or loss may include loss of self esteem. Loss of self esteem is often present as a result of injury which is physically or mentally disabling, or disfiguring. A newly acquired and noticeable physical, mental, or cognitive disability, or visible scarring or disfigurement, may cause a claimant to withdraw from social situations or contact. Low self esteem can also contribute to anxiety, eating and sleeping disorders, low self expectation and achievement, self neglect, and clinical depression. Counseling and various forms of therapy may be required to help an injured claimant heal, mentally and emotionally. It is important to note that, in order to maximize recovery on a claim, a personal injury claimant is required to "mitigate" their claim. This means the claimant must make a reasonable effort to medically treat, or otherwise deal with and lessen any physical, mental, or emotional injury or condition which is claimed to have been a result of the negligence of another.
Loss of Companionship & Support
Emotional distress resulting from an injury or loss may include the loss of benefit of a family relationship, which is referred to in the law as "loss of consortium." Loss of consortium claims are not claims of the primary (physically & mentally injured) claimant. Loss of consortium claims are personal claims of a spouse or child, or another dependent relative of the primary claimant. Claims for loss of consortium include interference with or loss of companionship, support, assistance, counsel, and love and affection. Between spouses, it can include change in or loss of intimacy. Between parent and child, it can include the effect on or loss of the parent's guidance to a child, and a child's support for a parent. Companionship includes any shared personal, social, or recreational activity enjoyed prior to an injury. Participation in or enjoyment of the activity must be proven to have been diminished by the primary claimant's injury.