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What Does Pain And Suffering Mean In A Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you are like most people, you probably have heard the term “pain and suffering” and know that juries frequently award this type of compensation in lawsuits, but you may not know if it applies to you or how it relates to medical malpractice claims.

From a legal perspective, pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case relates to the physical and mental suffering a victim endures as a result of a doctor’s negligence. It is the compensation awarded to an injured victim known as non-economic damages (a component of a plaintiff’s damages). Unlike economic damages that compensate victims for medical bills, lost income, and other exact dollar amounts related to their injuries, non-economic damages don’t have exact calculations.

Understanding the Two Types of Pain and Suffering

You can experience physical pain from injuries, but you can also suffer emotionally. We explain the difference here:

  • Physical pain and suffering. This is defined as the physical harm that a patient suffered as a result of an act of medical malpractice (e.g. bodily injuries, disfigurement, scarring, etc.). Physical pain may make it difficult for a victim to sleep, perform physical activities, or even work, which often leads to the mental or emotional component of pain and suffering.
  • Mental pain and suffering. This type of pain is the mental anguish and emotional distress a victim suffers as a result of the physical pain. Many people who suffer a traumatic injury develop fear, anger, stress, anxiety, sleep problems, lack of energy, appetite and weight issues, and more. Sometimes, the mental pain is severe enough that victims are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental pain and suffering can actually be debilitating—preventing a victim from enjoying life or even being able to return to work.

In medical malpractice cases, victims would be awarded money for their pain and suffering in addition to their other damages. Sometimes the amount of money awarded for pain and suffering can actually far exceed the claim for economic damages—making it a key component of medical malpractice claims. Therefore, a good attorney will know the importance of conveying to a jury how much his client’s life has been adversely affected physically, mentally, and emotionally by an act of medical negligence.

To learn more about the damages you may be entitled to receive, call us for a free consultation or contact us online with further questions. We are happy to answer your questions and want to help you understand more about your rights to a medical malpractice claim.