Can I sue for pain and suffering in the State of Florida?
If you suffer an injury, there are clear financial consequences in the form of medical bills and loss of income. An attorney can help evaluate these losses, but they are most likely not your only loss. You also suffered pain and emotional distress from the event. The agony of the injury combined with the challenge of recuperation is a loss. The worry of fully healing can be a loss. In addition, you may suffer further anguish for a certain amount of time in the future, possibly forever. This is pain and suffering, and in the State of Florida, you are absolutely entitled to recover for pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering: An Overview
Pain and suffering can take on many forms. It is generally the losses that don’t come with bills. There are two types of pain and suffering. They are physical and mental.
Physical injuries are easy to understand, although somewhat difficult to value. They could be long-lasting, and the law must make some presumptions regarding the longevity of the physical injury. What we know for sure, no one should be required to live in pain. If you are caused to live in pain due to someone else’s negligence, you should be compensated for the pain which you are now experiencing.
Mental pain and suffering is more complex than physical injuries because they cannot be seen or medically-defined in a quantifiable manner. Scars may impact one person more than another. Pain tolerances vary. People also have different coping mechanisms, and the loss of a loved one may be more debilitating to one person than another. Basically, nobody can get inside the head of the person suffering. This makes valuation of pain and suffering difficult. With our years of experience here at Kirshner, Groff & Diaz we have the knowledge and resources to make the insurance company understand the pain and suffering our client’s are experiencing.
What Impacts the Valuation of Pain?
There are many things that impact how a jury values pain. Some evidence you can bring to a case are more tangible than others, but they should highlight:
- Severity: Photos and other documentation of the injury that prove the extent of the injury when it occurred and any progressive damages/surgeries.
- Medical Records: These show the jury what the victim had to go through in order to heal from these injuries and show any future plans for further treatment.
- Recovery Time: Pain shows itself in many ways, and one of those ways is time. If you spent three weeks in a rehabilitation center in order to walk again, this is pain. Long-term physical therapy enhances the jury’s valuation of pain. Show exactly how long it took, or it is taking, to recover.
What Impacts the Valuation of Suffering?
Suffering is much more subjective than pain despite both being impacted by the individual. This is because its valuation is also based on the notions of the jury. This means the jury has to feel like you deserve more damages. This means things that could impact the valuation of suffering are:
- Relatability: Is the victim relatable to the jury? Will the jury like his or her demeanor during testimony? They aren’t likely to be forthcoming with monetary damages if the victim is disagreeable.
- Consistency: If the victim keeps changing his or her story, the jury may not believe that the suffering is real. They may believe the victim is trying to get more by falsely enhancing the effects of injury.
- History: Whether or not it should have an impact on damages awarded, juries may be dissuaded by a criminal history. This doesn’t mean it has to, but showing evidence of good character may be necessary to balance the negative impact of it.
- Expert Support: If a therapist or physician can support claims of suffering, this will lend credibility to complaints. It can also exemplify the long-term effects of the pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering in Auto Accidents: Tort Law
Florida Statute 627.733 clearly defines what a plaintiff may seek damages for in an automobile accident. The items are as follows:
- Mental anguish
- Permanent and significant loss of bodily function
- Permanent injury other than scarring or disfigurement
- Scarring or disfigurement
As you can see, this covers most of the damages possible in an automobile accident, so a plaintiff can receive fair compensation for actual losses.
Examples of Pain and Suffering: Severe to Mild
As stated previously, pain and suffering is very subjective. As a result, some cases are more obvious than others.
The most severe damage in any personal injury case is death, but the deceased is unable to reap any benefits from the courts. The loved ones of the deceased suffer damages in these cases. In Florida, these are wrongful death claims. The deceased person’s spouse, children, or parents can bring suit along with any other blood relatives or adoptive sibling dependents. These people have long-term suffering and significant household disruptions.
In other severe pain and suffering cases, there may be significant pain and suffering among a survivor. This could be the loss of a limb, loss of mobility, or significant disfigurement.
Pain and suffering does not have to be so obvious. It may seem minuscule in comparison, but maybe the loss of work during recovery caused you to miss a promotion. Maybe treatment caused you to miss a sailing trip around the world for which you’d been preparing for five years.
Suffering is not only suffering caused by pain or disfigurement. It is also the loss of opportunity and experience. It can be interpreted in many ways and is very dependent on the defendant’s unique qualities of life.
Statute of Limitations
For wrongful death claims, there are typically two years to file suit. In most other personal injury cases, there is a 4-year statute of limitations.
Limits on Damages
Technically, there are no limits on the damages that the courts can award for pain and suffering. However, Florida typically caps medical malpractice claims at $500,000 and suits against the government at $200,000. Damages can also be limited by comparative fault, which means the damages will be reduced by the percentage that the jury decided the plaintiff was at-fault.
Deciding to Pursue Pain and Suffering
Whether or not a jury will award you damages for pain and suffering depends on many variables including the jury and your evidence. That is why it is essential that you speak with a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you have the right evidence and are prepared to evaluated all of you pain and suffering. There are many things you may not think of when considering damages, and only an experienced attorney will know exactly what you should be considering.
Finding an Experienced Lawyer
When you meet with an attorney for the first time, you should make sure that they are interested in your case and your injuries. A professional lawyer will make himself or herself available for you, and you’ll feel comfortable that you are proceeding through the legal system efficiently and effectively.
Nobody wants a drawn out court case, and a reputable attorney with experience will make sure that no time is wasted in filing your suit or getting a judgement, whether that occurs through a settlement or a trial. You’ll be able to move on with life more quickly if you have the right representation.
At Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz, we’ve been handling personal injury cased since 1984. Not only are we experienced and compassionate, but we make ourselves available to our clients. If you’d like to get no obligation legal advice, please contact us today about your personal injury case.