Understanding Pain and Suffering in FloridaTrusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. January 12, 2021
Understanding Pain and Suffering in Florida
If you’ve ever been seriously injured in an accident, you know that the damage is not always just physical. Emotional pain and suffering are part of the process. You may be entitled to legal compensation for pain and suffering in Florida from injuries caused by a liable party.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
The legal term “pain and suffering” refers to the physical and emotional injuries following an accident. These damages can be difficult to quantify.
It is reasonable to assume that the party that caused the accident would be responsible for related damages such as medical bills and other costs that you would not have otherwise incurred. Pain and suffering damages are much more subjective, but arguably just as important.
Economic Damages vs Non-Economic Damages
There are two main types of compensation in Florida personal injury cases: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Compensation to cover actual costs of the property damage or injuries caused are called “economic damages.” This type of compensation is crucial to making sure that you are not financially burdened by the negligent actions of someone else.
The downside of purely economic damages is that they do not make up for the emotional burden or life changes that may occur because of the injury. Their purpose is just to pay the bills and cover expenses that would not have existed without the accident.
Once actual expenses are covered, the injured party must still deal with the mental and emotional consequences of the accident. Pain and suffering is a claim to cover these “non-economic” damages. Non-economic damages may include:
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of quality of life,
- Emotional and psychological distress,
- Anger, and
- Post-traumatic stress.
These types of damages are difficult to put a price on, but they can be debilitating and life-changing. You deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering.
Are There Limits on How Much Money I Can Get for Pain and Suffering?
Florida does not have a cap on damages for pain and suffering damages in general personal injury claims. Relief for pain and suffering does depend on the type of personal injury case, the extent of the damages, and circumstances surrounding the accident.
Pain and Suffering Damages in No-Fault Auto Accident Cases
In 2019, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported 401,867 auto accidents. However, some car accident victims may be limited in their ability to pursue pain and suffering damages.
Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to auto accidents. This means that a driver must turn first to their own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
PIP coverage extends to economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, but it does not cover pain and suffering.
Nevertheless, a car accident victim can file a personal injury lawsuit and request compensation for pain and suffering from the at-fault driver if their damages reach a certain threshold. To meet the threshold to bring a claim for pain and suffering in Florida, the injured party must have experienced one of the following:
- Significant, permanent loss of function;
- Permanent injury;
- Disfigurement; or
- Permanent scars.
It is important to contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to file a claim for pain and suffering after a car accident.
Florida Comparative Negligence Rule
The State of Florida follows a pure comparative negligence rule. This rule reduces the victim’s recovery by the percentage for which they were found at fault for the injuries or damages. If you were partially responsible for the accident that caused the injury, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility.
How are Florida Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated
There are several factors the court will consider when evaluating pain and suffering:
- Severity of the injury,
- Type of medical treatment received,
- Age of the victim,
- Length of recovery,
- Injury prognosis, and
- Long term impact of the injury.
These factors play an important role in getting you what you deserve. Ultimately, however, it is up to a jury to determine what is reasonable in light of all the evidence in the case.
Evidence to Support a Claim for Pain and Suffering
Details are important when gathering evidence to support your claim for pain and suffering. The first step is to consider how the injury has and will interfere with your normal life.
Keep a record of the help you have required to maintain a semblance of normalcy. This can be a written record, testimony, or invoices from people who have assisted you in normal tasks, including things like:
- Cooking meals or purchasing groceries,
- General housework,
- Caring for dependent children,
- Doing yard work, and
- Caring for pets.
Tasks like these may seem simple. If you cannot accomplish them due to your injury, you may be compensated.
Expert opinions, medical records, and tangible documents will also be important in your claim for pain and suffering. Some examples of these may include:
- A list of restrictions provided by your doctor;
- A list of medications prescribed to you, like painkillers, sleeping pills, or anxiety pills;
- Testimony from physical therapists regarding progress and prognosis; and
- Evidence from a psychiatrist detailing the level of mental anguish, stress, and anxiety caused by the accident.
Your attorney can help you gather essential evidence to maximize your pain and suffering award.
Should You Hire an Attorney for a Claim of Pain and Suffering in Florida?
Pain and suffering is not a straightforward claim for personal injury compensation. Seeking counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney could be crucial for your case.
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we can help you evaluate your personal injury claim and determine the best way to get you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Contact us today. Our compassionate team will help you through the process. You have suffered enough, and we are here to help.