Suing for Pain and Suffering: What Qualifies for This?

pain and suffering

If someone else hurt you, they should have to compensate you for what you’ve lost financially, including medical bills, lost income, and other expenses. However, the effects of a serious injury are not merely economic in nature. They also have an emotional component, one that’s every bit as real and impactful as those dollars-and-cents losses – and every bit as compensable.

You’ve probably heard of “pain and suffering” before but might wonder what qualifies and how much you could be owed. The Raleigh personal injury attorneys of Hardison & Cochran have the answers. For more than 30 years, we have fought for justice for injured North Carolinians like you. We have achieved a long track record of results for our clients during that time.

Let us put our experience to work for you. We are ready to help you understand your rights to compensation for pain and suffering, then fight to recover it on your behalf.

Contact us today for a free initial case review with our Raleigh personal injury lawyers. We look forward to hearing your story, learning about the pain and suffering you had to experience through no fault of your own, and explaining how we can help during this difficult time.

How Much Can You Get Out of Pain and Suffering?

Financial compensation for pain and suffering after an accident reimburses you for the physical discomfort and emotional distress you experience because of your injuries. Unfortunately, no objective standard can put a dollar amount on pain and emotional suffering. An accident victim may receive pain and suffering compensation for a portion of their economic damages, equal to their compensation for economic losses, or several times their economic compensation.

When assigning a dollar amount for pain and suffering, the court will consider the following:

  • The effects of injuries and disabilities on the victim’s daily living and ability to participate in activities
  • Whether injuries or disabilities restrict the accident victim’s ability to work
  • The effect of injuries and disabilities on the victim’s relationships
  • Whether the injured victim suffers a reduction in quality of life, such as from chronic pain, lack of sleep, or embarrassment and humiliation from permanent scarring or disfigurement

North Carolina law only imposes a limit on pain and suffering compensation in medical malpractice cases, with the limit adjusted every year based on the Consumer Price Index. However, this limit does not apply in cases where a plaintiff suffered disfigurement, loss of use of a body part, permanent injury, or death, or where a defendant acted with gross negligence, recklessness, fraud, willfulness, or malice.

Examples of Physical Medical Conditions That May Qualify for Pain and Suffering

Minor injuries with a quick recovery period may not support a claim for pain and suffering compensation. However, more serious injuries that cause physical pain and involve weeks or months of medical recovery likely will. Some injuries that may qualify you for financial recovery for pain and suffering include:

  • Degloving injuries (injuries in which the skin tears away from underlying muscle or bone)
  • Second- and third-degree burns
  • Torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles
  • Bone fractures
  • Herniated spinal disc injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Crush injuries
  • Perforation injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Amputation or dismemberment
  • Loss of a body part or use of a body part
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement

Examples of Emotional Pain That May Qualify for Pain and Suffering

In addition to the physical pain of an injury, its emotional consequences can also be compensable. Examples of emotional distress that may qualify you for pain and suffering compensation include:

  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances, such as night terrors
  • Mood changes or swings
  • The onset of anxiety or depression
  • New phobias related to the accident, such as fear of riding in vehicles after a crash
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Lack of energy or interest in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Irritability and frequent angry outbursts
  • Humiliation or embarrassment from physical disabilities or visible scarring and disfigurement
  • Feeling that your quality of life has diminished
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Examples of Loss of Consortium That May Qualify for Pain and Suffering

In addition to the compensation you may be owed, your spouse may also have the right to pursue compensation for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium describes the emotional and physical consequences that someone suffers as the result of their spouse being injured, including a loss of the following:

  • Companionship
  • Affection
  • Society
  • Service, including service or chores performed around the household that the couple now hires someone else to perform
  • Support and guidance
  • Sexual relationship

Spouses must file their loss of consortium claim with their injured spouse’s personal injury claim, since the former stems from the latter.

How to Prove Pain and Suffering

You can calculate your economic losses from accident injuries by referring to financial documents such as bills, invoices, receipts, and pay stubs. However, calculating pain and suffering compensation involves a more subjective analysis of the effects that your injuries have had on your life. You will need to present evidence to establish the extent of the pain and suffering you have experienced, which may include:

  • Medical records to document your injuries and the treatment you received
  • Medical testimony from your treating physicians and medical experts to explain the pain and physical impairment that your injuries caused you
  • Testimony from your family members, friends, and co-workers about the effects of injuries on your personal and professional life
  • Your own testimony about your subjective experience of your injuries and disabilities

Some of this evidence can be difficult to gather on your own. Instead of trying to do so, turn to an experienced personal injury attorney who has connections to expert witnesses in a variety of fields.

Schedule a Free Case Review with Our Experienced Raleigh Personal Injury Attorneys

Call Hardison & Cochran today for a free, no-obligation consultation to talk to our seasoned Raleigh personal injury attorneys about your rights to recover compensation for your pain and suffering. We are ready to stand up for your rights, advocate for you at the negotiating table and in court, and demand that the person who hurt you compensate you accordingly. You can reach us by phone or simply fill out our easy online contact form.

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.