“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.
And if you or a loved one have suffered a recent injury due to the negligence of medical practice, you might be wondering if the words “pain and suffering” are important.
First you should know what pain and suffering actually 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.
Table of Contents
What is Pain and Suffering?
“Pain and suffering” is a legal term for the physical and emotional injuries a victim suffers. When it pertains to medical malpractice, it is the combined injuries that are a direct result of a doctor’s (or other provider) negligence.
It’s important to note that you cannot sue only for pain and suffering. You can, however, receive compensation for the pain and suffering caused by medical negligence.
You might now be curious what damages fall under “pain and suffering.” 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, muscle injury, etc.
- Permanent injuries and disabilities
- Decreased movement
- Loss of bodily function
- Mental and emotional stress, anguish, trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
Being compensated for economic damages is pretty easy. You add up your medical bills and other treatments costs, and voila! But how can you calculate something that has no receipt or bill? 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.
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.
Proving Pain and Suffering
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. Providing proper documentation and evidence that supports your claim will help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
This includes doctor’s notes, medical examinations, and even documentation from therapists/psychologists.
Suffering from an injury caused by medical negligence is unfortunate and unfair. Not only is it physically devastating, it’s physically and emotionally draining too.
Talking to a professional lawyer who understands the severity of your pain and suffering can help. By acting quickly and contacting a malpractice lawyer, you can maximize your compensation in a medical negligence claim.
If you have questions on how to sue a doctor for pain and suffering, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can assist you.