What Is Pain and Suffering (In A Legal Sense)?

What Is Pain and Suffering (In A Legal Sense)?

Pain and suffering are experienced by many people who are involved in car accidents and other types of traumatic events. Distinct from what are called “economic damages” or “special damages” (more on that below), pain and suffering include exactly what you’d expect: the pain and suffering experienced by a tort victim after an injury caused by someone else. Continue reading below to learn more about this category of damages and what you can do to be compensated for it.

General and Special Damages

Damages for injuries suffered during an accident caused by someone else are split up into two categories: general and special. Special damages are perhaps the most straightforward. Special damages refer to the economic losses you suffer as a direct result of the actions of another. For example, if your car is struck by another vehicle and you hurt your back, the special damages that might result would include money spent on medical treatment (like rehabilitation and therapy) and the money you lost as a result of being unable to work for a period of time.

General damages are a little more difficult to define. They are the intangible losses resulting from an event and can include such things as:

  • Body aches and pain
  • Mental anguish (including mental illnesses like depression and anxiety)
  • Humiliation and embarrassment
  • Loss of consortium (meaning, a loss of physical intimacy with one’s spouse)

General damages can include almost any deprivation caused by someone else and it’s important that you not assume your damages won’t be compensable or don’t “count.”

Counsel Minute: The “Thin Skull” or “Eggshell” Rule

Some people have preexisting conditions or predispositions towards certain kinds of damages. For example, a person who’s had a previous episode of major depression is more likely to suffer one in the future. When such a person is injured by another and suffers the consequence they were predisposed to, the person is usually still entitled to full damages for the injury they suffer as a result of the tort.

In other words, just because you were predisposed to a kind of pain and suffering in the first place (ex. back problems, mental health issues, etc.), doesn’t mean you can’t collect a damage award for the harm you suffer because of an accident.

Many people discount mental pain and suffering when they’re suffering after an event like a vehicle accident. This is a mistake. Mental pain and suffering are just as valid, important, and legally compensable as bodily aches and pains.

This is particularly true when the mental distress is caused by a mental illness triggered by the event. Not only can rehabilitation and therapy for the mental disorder be just as lengthy and involved as rehab and therapy for a physical injury (which would result in special damages), the discomfort suffered by the person experiencing mental symptoms can be just as severe.

Limits on Damages in Pennsylvania

There are a few limits on damages in the state of Pennsylvania in certain instances. These are particularly pronounced when you are suing a government agency or a person who was acting in the course of their duties to the government (like a government employee) during the accident. Depending on whether you’re suing a local or state government, your ability to seek general or special damages could be affected. You should consult with a qualified accident lawyer in Pennsylvania as soon as possible if this describes your case.

Statutes of Limitations in Pennsylvania

It’s important to act quickly when you’re seeking compensation for general or special damages caused by someone else. The state of Pennsylvania, like all other states, has specific rules about the period of time during which a lawsuit can be brought. These rules are commonly referred to as “Statutes of Limitations” or “limitation periods.”

The limitation period that will apply to you will depend on the kind of accident or event that caused your loss and who caused it. So it’s important that you speak to a good accident lawyer in Pennsylvania without any delay if you suffer harm at the hands of another.

Call Marcus & Mack Today

Whether you’ve been hurt in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident or you know someone who is suffering as a result of one, Marcus & Mack welcome your call. Only a qualified accident lawyer can determine the true extent of your entitlement to damages and you may be surprised at the extent to which you can be compensated. Call 1-800-HURTLINE today and have a chat with us. You’ll be glad you did.

Marcus & Mack

Marcus & Mack
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Altoona PA   16602
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State College PA  16801
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Johnstown PA  15904
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DuBois PA  15801