What is pain, suffering and disability in a personal injury settlement?
They are legal terms used to denote the noneconomic damages or harm a person incurs from a personal injury. Every person’s experience is different and it is hard to understand another person’s losses which cannot be readily quantified like lost wages or medical bills.
Pain and suffering alone consists of three distinguishable components: physical pain; mental suffering, which arises from awareness of physical pain; and mental anguish, which encompasses the unpleasant mental consequences of the fact of injury not directly related to pain.
Pain can be acute in the first weeks and months after an injury and turn to chronic in the case of a permanent injury. Pain is subjective and is therefore carefully scrutinized by insurance companies and juries, who will look to outside indicia of pain such as objective medical support and verifiable lifestyle changes to confirm a person’s reports of pain.
Mental suffering is the psychological component or consequence of physical pain. There are studies which confirm that pain can change a person’s thinking and feeling. Every person handles things differently, but pain can change a person.
The third component, mental anguish, is the type of mental suffering not directly related to physical pain or injury. Mental anguish can best be characterized as the worry, concern, grief, humiliation, embarrassment, and depression, which though not directly related to sensations of pain, are a consequence of the inability of the injured person to do the things and be the person he or she was before the accident. This is what lay people would recognize as depression or anxiety, but it does not rise to the level of a psychological diagnosis.
Disability is the actual limitation or loss a person incurs due to a physical or mental injury. Disability are the physical limitations which prevent us from doing the normal things we did before in our jobs, around the house and in general. Disability is caused by pain and restricted range of motion due to physical injury, or on occasion, mental injury. Disability prevents us from doing what people need to do to get by.
On the other side of the coin, apart from the negatives of pain and suffering, disability also causes a loss of enjoyment of life. This is the loss of the ability to do things we enjoy over and above what we need to do. Imagine working for 50 years in the hope of enjoying a few golden years, only to be cut off by someone’s reckless texting while driving.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin takes pain, suffering and disability seriously. McCormick Law attorneys work hard to prove our clients’ cases.