OUR BLOG

How To Sue A Doctor For Pain And Suffering

“You may be able to get compensation for pain and suffering.” Do those words sound familiar? You’ve probably heard these claims during those late-night commercials. Or have seen those words on a giant billboard driving down the highway?

Have you or a loved one suffered a recent injury due to the negligence of medical practice? You might be wondering if the words “pain and suffering” are important. And how difficult suing a hospital for emotional distress or pain is.

First, you should know what pain and suffering means. Especially in a medical malpractice case. What counts as pain and suffering? Do you qualify? How do you prove it in your medical malpractice lawsuit? 

We’ve laid out the basics of suing for pain and suffering. Read on for answers to common compensation questions.

A woman who has experienced pain and suffering from a malpractice case holds her face in the palm of her hands.

Physical Injury vs Emotional Distress & What is Pain and Suffering?

“Pain and suffering” is a legal term for the physical and emotional injuries a victim suffers. It’s caused by medical malpractice; the direct result of a doctor’s (or other provider’s) negligence. Physical injury is less challenging to sue for than emotional distress, but many successful lawsuits include damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Generally speaking, you can sue for emotional distress or pain and suffering when you’re harmed because of the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional. In this sort of scenario, you’re suing to get compensation for emotional damage and/or the pain and suffering they’ve caused. So the emotional distress, suffering, and/or pain should be substantial enough to warrant that compensation.

It’s important to note that in most cases, you cannot sue for only pain and suffering. 

Most cases involve a physical injury, with these types of damages accompanying it.

You might be curious about what damages fall under this category. If you’ve experienced one or more of the following injuries/damages, you may be able to sue and receive pain/suffering compensation.

  • Physical pain – including chronic pain, discomfort, physical injury, etc.
  • Permanent physical injuries and disabilities
  • Decreased movement
  • Loss of bodily function
  • Mental and emotional stress, anguish, trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Severe anxiety or depression
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Emotional trauma
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Disfigurement
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of consortium

Now that we’ve covered what it is, let’s take a quick dive into how to calculate compensation.

How to Calculate Pain & Suffering

Being compensated for economic damages is pretty easy. You add up your medical bills and other medical treatment costs, and voila! But how can you calculate something that has no receipt or bill?

Well, there’s no perfect formula to calculate something like this, but there are a couple of helpful methods we’ll cover. But first, what are we quantifying? What things can we take into consideration here? Well, there are many things to consider, like:

  • The amount of pain and suffering
  • The amount of time it lasted
  • The frequency of it
  • Medical expenses needed as a result
  • Injuries that ruin a person’s life in some sense
  • Life disruption
  • Age and life expectancy (how long will you live with the injury?)
  • Exacerbated pre-existing medical conditions
  • The severity of the injury
  • Permanent physical injuries
  • Disfigurements
  • Emotional distress caused; PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc
  • Mental anguish
  • And more

These things can all affect how much compensation you seek and ultimately (hopefully) get through your medical malpractice claim.

Most courts use one of two methods to calculate a fair compensation for pain and suffering:

Per Diem Method

The per diem method involves coming up with a dollar value the victim will receive each day while healing from their injuries. Usually, this value is equal to a person’s daily wages. The dollar amount is multiplied by the number of days it takes the victim to recover from the injury.

Here’s an example. The per diem amount assigned by a court for a medical negligence case is $200. It takes the victim 60 days to recover from injuries. $200 x  60 = $12,000 for pain and suffering.

Multiplier Method

The second way of calculating a pain and suffering award is the multiplier method. This entails multiplying the plaintiff’s medical expenses by a number (between 1.5-5) that reflects the severity of injuries.

Now let’s say for the victim in the example above, the court decides to use the multiplier method. The economic damages were $10,000 and the judge ruled the injuries to be moderately severe. So maybe a 4. Pain and suffering would be $10,000 x 4 for a total of $40,000. This would be in addition to the $10,000 of economic damages.

Many states also impose a cap on pain and suffering damages. In Texas, there is a cap of $250,000 on pain and suffering damages in medical negligence cases. Even if the per diem or multiplier method calculates a number above the cap, Texas courts can not grant you an award higher than $250,000.

A woman copes with the pain of medical malpractice by seeing a therapist.

How to Prove Emotional Distress & Pain & Suffering

You know what counts as emotional distress. You know what counts as pain and suffering. You’re even familiar with the methods used to calculate it. But how do you prove it in court?

Simply telling the judge you’re in a lot of pain, and you’ve suffered a lot won’t cut it. You need to provide proper documentation, for one. And evidence that supports your claim. This will help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.

Here are a few examples of evidence you could present to the court:

  • Testimony from a qualified expert in mental health, like a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
  • Evidence showing how the emotional strain has impacted your financial situation.
  • Records showing the detrimental changes in your social life or hobbies.
  • Emails, texts, and other communication with the healthcare provider or institution.
  • A diagnosis by a mental health professional based on the incident.
  • Accounts from friends and family describing changes in your behavior before and after the incident.
  • Statements from your employer about how the incident has affected your job performance.
  • Doctor’s notes and medical examinations.
  • Any prior complaints or lawsuits against the healthcare provider.

This brings us to the ultimate question – can you really sue your doctor for pain and suffering? And if so, how exactly?

Can you sue a Doctor or Hospital for Pain & Suffering?

First, yes – suing a hospital for emotional distress or pain is absolutely possible. To do so, you have to:

  1. Show that you were a patient. You need to establish that there was a medical relationship between you and the hospital. Or between you and the doctor or other staff member that you’re suing. As we already covered, proper documentation and evidence are key.
  2. Prove negligence. Prove that the doctor or other medical professional was negligent and that this negligence is what caused the injury.

So. Now you know – you can indeed sue the hospital for emotional distress, pain and suffering. With a medical malpractice claim. But do you have a legitimate case? Let’s talk about that.

Do I Have a Case?

Have you experienced emotional trauma thanks to a doctor’s negligence and medical malpractice? If so, you have legal options to hold them accountable. But it’s difficult to know whether or not you have a case until you schedule a free consultation to figure it out.

Book your consultation with an attorney, and discuss your experience and the impact it had on your life. They’ll be able to help you assess whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim or not. And if you do, they can also help you estimate the potential value of your case.

Reasons To Sue

There are many legitimate reasons to sue your hospital or doctor. But since we’re talking about pain and suffering, we’ll cover those reasons. You may be able to sue for the pain and suffering you were subject to because of:

  • A medical mistake causing a wrongful death (of a family member)
  • Discrimination against you (based on race, gender, age, etc)
  • Surgical errors
  • Wrong medication
  • Psychiatric malpractice
  • Mistakes in administering anesthesia
  • Incorrect diagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Medical malpractice that caused injury
  • Failure to maintain the “standard of care”
  • Inadequate informed consent (doctors must fully inform their patients about the risks, benefits, and alternatives to any medical procedure or treatment)
  • Negligence on the part of nurses or medical technicians
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect
  • Sexual abuse or harassment
  • A botched C-section
  • And many other forms of negligence

Suing a Hospital for Emotional Distress: Damages

When you successfully establish a medical malpractice claim, the negligent party will have to pay the damages. That is, your hospital, the doctor, or whoever you’re bringing the case against – whoever caused the injury with their negligence. If you suffered emotional distress, emotional pain, suffering, or physical harm, contact the best medical malpractice attorneys you can find, and set up a free consultation.

Talking to a professional lawyer who understands the severity of your pain, suffering, and emotional distress can help. Act quickly and contact the right medical malpractice lawyer today. This can help you to seek compensation and maximize the compensation you receive in your medical malpractice case.

How Much Will I Pay for My Medical Malpractice Claim?

The good news is, you shouldn’t have to pay a dime until you win your case. This is a contingency agreement. (Learn more about that here.) Basically, it’s where the attorney takes a percentage of your settlement, but only after they win the case. And if you lose? You don’t pay anything.

The advantage of this sort of agreement is that your lawyer is incentivized to do everything possible to help you win your case. Because if you lose, nobody gets paid. And if you win, you both get paid.

If you have questions about how to sue a doctor for pain and suffering, don’t hesitate to call us at 713.489.0993 or message us to set up a free consultation. We can help you find out whether or not you have a viable medical malpractice claim, and review your options. If you or a loved one has been harmed or injured because of negligence, you may be able to sue and gain both compensation and justice. 

Want to learn more about how to sue a doctor or hospital? Read How To Sue The Hospital: You CAN Sue Your Hospital (& WIN!) This post gives you 7 simple steps to sue the hospital – or your doctor. We also cover a large number of the most common questions people ask about suing the hospital.

Suing For Pain & Suffering & Emotional Distress FAQs

How do you prove emotional distress?

Proving emotional distress can be challenging, but to do so you must provide evidence to support your claim. Evidence like documentation, medical records, witness testimony, expert testimony, and records of the event.

What is the most you can sue for in an emotional distress case?

There’s technically no limit to the amount of damages that can be awarded in an emotional distress lawsuit. So the sky’s the limit, in theory. That said,  the amount you get will depend on the specifics of your case and the severity of your psychological injuries.

Is it hard to sue for emotional damage?

It can be challenging, but a good case is a good case. These types of claims can be complicated, and you’ll need strong evidence to back your claim, but it’s very possible.

How do I know if I have a case?

Book a free consultation with your attorney to discuss your experience and the impact it has had on your life. They’ll help you assess whether or not you have a valid case. They can also help you estimate the potential value of your case.

What are the rights of patients regarding pain management?

Patients have many rights in this arena. They have the right to have their pain properly assessed and managed by healthcare professionals. They should receive clear information about their pain treatment options, including the benefits and risks. Generally, they should be involved in decisions about their pain management and have access to effective pain relief methods. Any concerns about inadequate pain control should be promptly addressed.