What Does Pain and Suffering Mean in Legal Terms?

If you’ve recently experienced a personal injury and are considering legal action, you may be confused by all the legalese you’re finding yourself immersed in. From terms like “damages” and “the claims process” to more abstract concepts such as “pain and suffering,” it can be pretty difficult to keep all of the law jargon straight. Here’s a look at the legal definition of pain and suffering and what it might mean for your case.

Defining pain and suffering

If you’re looking for a simple definition, “pain and suffering” is a fairly self-explanatory term. It refers to the physical and emotional stresses brought on by an injury, and it’s typically classified under general damages in legal proceedings. Keep in mind that a concept like pain and suffering is more of an umbrella term that encompasses numerous ailments and doesn’t exclusively rely on physical injuries.

Common physical ailments that qualify as pain and suffering include certain physical limitations, lasting damages, aches, chronic pains, scarring, and spasms. Though injuries are the most common form of pain and suffering, mental and emotional trauma caused by an accident are also equally applicable. This includes depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress. While these are legally valid forms of pain and suffering, they’re much more difficult to prove in a court of law. If you’re looking to pursue a pain and suffering claim as a result of mental or emotional damages suffered in a personal injury case, you’ll want to contact an Oxnard personal injury attorney to have the best shot at receiving the compensation you’re owed.

Examples of pain and suffering

There are numerous legal precedents for compensatory damages being awarded in a personal injury case that resulted in a pain and suffering claim. Imagine you’re in a severe car accident which shatters your pelvis and leaves you unable to work for several months as you attend physical therapy. Due to the frustrations brought on by the slow healing process and your inability to maintain gainful employment, you become depressed, angry, and start to have difficulty sleeping. You’re referred to a psychiatrist to address these emotional issues and it’s determined that they all stem from your accident. In this scenario, you’re entitled to compensatory damages because of the mental pain and suffering you’re experiencing.

Even in scenarios where you’re not in dire need of mental health assistance, you may be entitled to mental pain and suffering compensation anyways, due to your emotional state following an accident. For example, if you’ve been training for a half marathon that’s coming up, only to break your leg in a slip and fall accident, the resulting frustration and depression at being unable to attend the race means that, while minor, this event qualifies you for compensation.

A pain and suffering claim

If you’re requesting damages as a result of physical pain and suffering, or if you’re seeking compensation for mental anguish, it’s in your best interest to retain legal counsel to help you navigate the claims process. It’s often difficult to prove liability in personal injury cases and accidents, and that’s where a qualified attorney comes into play. A lawyer will inform you about all the factors which come into play when seeking damages because of a pain and suffering claim.

If you neglect to hire a lawyer for a personal injury or accident claim, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility that you won’t receive the compensation you deserve, that your insurance agency will outright reject your claim, or that you’ll face an unwanted outcome in court.

Putting your best interests first

When it comes to a pain and suffering claim, remember that your wellbeing is what’s most important. If you’ve been injured in an accident, seek treatment immediately to get yourself back on the path to good health. If you’re experiencing mental anguish as well, ask your physician for a referral to a licensed mental health professional. During this process, you can begin researching lawyers for assistance with your case. Just make sure that your health comes first.