Although many people have heard the term “pain and suffering” used to describe the physical and emotional damages related to their personal injury claim, they may not know what exactly pain and suffering is, or how it is calculated in the state of Nevada.
By understanding how pain and suffering damages are factored into your personal injury settlement, you can ensure that you are receiving the best possible award for the pain and suffering you have endured (and may continue to endure) as the result of a personal injury.
Types of Pain and Suffering
There are two main types of pain and suffering that are evaluated to determine how much your case is worth: physical pain and suffering and mental (or emotional) pain and suffering.
Physical pain and suffering, which is how the injuries affect you as a person in your activities of daily living, is not only the actual physical pain and discomfort you have endured to date, but also the detrimental physical effects you may suffer in the future as a result of the defendant’s negligence. For example, ongoing physical therapy and rehabilitation after an accident may qualify as physical pain and suffering for which damages can be sought just as well as the pain one might have while working or enjoying a hobby they enjoy.
Mental pain and suffering refers to emotions such as fear, humiliation, depression, anger and anxiety—among others—that often manifest themselves following an accident or injury. While it may be hard to quantify just how much your mental pain and suffering is worth, you may still be able to recover damages for your emotional distress depending on how much your life has been impacted (or will be impacted) due to your injuries.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
For the most part, there is no such thing as an industry “standard” for calculating pain and suffering damages. In fact, the Jury Instruction regarding pain and suffering makes this clear and leaves broad discretion to the Jury. The old Jury Instruction read:
No definite standard or method of calculation is prescribed by law by which to fix reasonable compensation for pain and suffering. Nor is the opinion of any witness required as to the amount of such reasonable compensation.
Furthermore, the argument of counsel as to the amount of damages is not evidence of reasonable compensation. In making an award for pain and suffering, you shall exercise your authority with calm and reasonable judgment and the damages you fix shall be just and reasonable in the light of the evidence.
This framework is not perfect, however, and an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer can help you determine if the proposed award is fair to you and can help you appeal for a higher award. Victims are entitled to seek higher damage awards if they do not feel that their allotted compensation matches the pain and suffering they have had to endure to the present day.
Are There Award “Caps” in a Personal Injury Claim?
Except in cases of medical malpractice, there is no maximum “cap” on the amount you can recover for pain and suffering damages in a Nevada personal injury claim. The only requirement for recovering these damages is that they must be fair and reasonable based on how much an injury has affected the quality of life of the plaintiff.
Because of this, if you have suffered any noneconomic losses from a personal injury accident, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Mental or emotional pain or anguish;
- Loss of consortium (companionship);
- Loss of enjoyment of life; or
- Injury to reputation.
Then you may be eligible to recover pain and suffering damages in a personal injury claim.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Noneconomic damages are subjective, meaning that they must be proven to a defendant’s lawyer or insurer (or to a jury) in order to recover any award for pain and suffering damages. This can be done in a number of ways, including through the use of medical records (such as x-rays or other visual tests), photographs and videos as well as testimonials from friends and families who have observed changes in your life since sustaining your injury. During the negotiation phase, the Adjuster in charge of the case will look, primarily, to the medical records for Complaints of pain and suffering and loss of activities making it important to discuss these issues with your providers.
By ensuring that you have documentation on every aspect of your life that has changed as a result of your injury, you have the best chance at recovering damages for your pain and suffering.
Contact an Experienced Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer
Simply having documentation of lifestyle changes, however, is only half the battle in proving that your life has been negatively impacted by a personal injury. You will still be required to present evidence to support your claim, which can be a challenging and stressful endeavor during an already tumultuous period of your life.
Fortunately, Cap & Kudler is here to assist you during this time by helping you evaluate the value of your personal injury claim, as well as providing excellent legal representation who will ensure that all of your pain and suffering damages are accounted for in the final settlement.
If you or a loved one has experienced pain and suffering as a result of an accident, malpractice, or another negligent act, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.