A typical Florida personal injury claim can result in two main types of damages: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are the victim’s out-of-pocket expenses, including medical bills and property damage. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are intangible losses, rather than those with traceable receipts and established monetary values. In serious and catastrophic injury cases, noneconomic damages can be more harmful to the victim than economic ones. The Florida courts permit plaintiffs to file claims for pain and suffering damages after a Hollywood personal injury accident.
What Do Pain and Suffering Damages Include?
Pain and suffering is the umbrella phrase for many different types of noneconomic losses after a personal injury accident. It can refer to a range of damages that do not involve price tags, but still greatly impact the victim’s life and capabilities. The civil courts in every state permit victims of personal injury accidents to seek financial compensation for several types of pain and suffering damages.
- Past and future physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Psychological harm
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression or anxiety
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
The precise noneconomic damages a victim can seek depend on the situation. A Hollywood personal injury lawyer can help victims understand the categories of pain and suffering that may apply to the case. Each victim will also qualify for different pain and suffering damage amounts, based on the severity of injury and how much it impacts the person’s life. Younger victims with permanent injuries such as spinal cord damage and paralysis, for example, typically qualify for greater pain and suffering damages than those with minor injuries.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Florida Statutes Section 627.737 states that a claimant must have “permanent injury within a reasonable amount of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement,” to qualify for pain and suffering. It is the plaintiff or his or her attorney’s job to prove to a jury that the plaintiff has suffered compensable noneconomic damages during a personal injury trial. The jury will listen to the plaintiff’s story, review any provided evidence, and determine whether the plaintiff should receive financial compensation for pain and suffering. An attorney can help prove these damages with a number of documents and methods.
- Expert testimony. Written or oral statements from a mental health professional, physician, or other expert could help prove that the victim has suffered emotionally, mentally, and/or physically because of the injury.
- Medical history. Medical documentation, as well as a history of prescriptions for diagnoses such as depression or anxiety, can help a victim establish physical pain and emotional suffering.
- Statements from friends and family. People close to the claimant, such as friends, family members, or spouses, may testify to the victim’s changes in behavior. Family members may also testify on how the plaintiff’s condition or suffering has affected the family unit.
Comparisons to plaintiffs with similar injuries, a review of the plaintiff’s maximum medical improvement, and opinions from experts can all help a jury determine whether a claimant is eligible for pain and suffering damages in Florida. Then, it is up to the jury to decide the appropriate amount.
How Do the Florida Courts Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?
Most courts in Florida use the multiplier method to calculate pain and suffering damages, although other methods do exist. The multiplier method takes the plaintiff’s amount of economic damages and multiplies it by a number the jury deems appropriate based on the extent of the plaintiff’s losses. The multiplier will be a number from one to five.
For example, if a paralysis victim received a $1 million award for economic damages and the jury assigned a multiplier of three for serious damages, the plaintiff could be eligible for a pain and suffering award of $3 million. It is up to the jury to review the facts of the case and assign an appropriate multiplier.
Florida laws do not impose a cap on general pain and suffering damages. Plaintiffs can seek as much money in pain and suffering recovery as their attorneys deem fair. However, most medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida come with $500,000 caps on pain and suffering, with a few exceptions. Maximizing pain and suffering recovery takes hiring an attorney with experience taking cases to trial.