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Past, Present, and Future Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case

February 1, 2015 Personal Injury


Personal Injury

A personal injury settlement amount depends on several factors.

Past pain and suffering relates to the injury you suffer due to another person’s carelessness or wrongdoing. The duration of the past pain and suffering is from the time of the incident up to the time of the trial. When you get to trial, a gap of usually a few years has passed, from the time the incident occurred up to the time of trial. You will be asking the jury to make an award of compensation to you for the pain and suffering that you endured for the years from the time of the event to the time leading up to the trial.

Future Pain and Suffering

This obviously leads to the question, what happens in the future, if the victim has not fully recovered. In such a case, the jury will be asked to make an award also for future pain and suffering. When your lawyer presents to the jury what could happen to you in future, he will have to bring in medical experts to discuss what could happen to you from that point forward during trial and into the foreseeable future.

Factors Determining Amount of Future Pain and Suffering

Nobody has a crystal ball to look into the future, but your lawyer will ask the doctor to make assumptions:

  • Based upon your past injuries
  • Based upon your course of treatment
  • Based upon what your health problems are today
  • Whether you are going to need further treatment
  • What type of medical care you are going to need to take care of your particular problem
  • Whether you are going to need further surgeries in the future
  • Whether you are going to suffer from disabilities as a result of the wrongdoing or carelessness that occurred

The Jury Decides a Compensatory Amount

After considering all these points, the jury will then have enough evidence to make a decision for deciding on an award that would compensate you fairly for your past and future pain and suffering. This would include from the time of the incident to the date of the trial, and from the time of trial and into the future, for the suffering you are expected to endure.

Compensation for past and future pain and suffering will apply to accident cases, medical malpractice cases, and even wrongful death cases. The plaintiff lawyer has to call doctors and other medical professionals as expert witnesses to present to the jury what the victim has suffered, and what he is likely to suffer in the future.

The defense might bring in their own medical experts to disprove these claims or to present to the jury that the pain and suffering is not as much as what the plaintiff’s witnesses are presenting. It is always difficult to put a dollar amount to pain and suffering, but there are certain guidelines that will help the jury calculate a fair compensatory amount.