Reasonable Pain And Suffering Injury Law
What is reasonable pain and suffering?
The question is really asking, what is a reasonable amount of money to be awarded for pain and suffering. Indeed, what is reasonable for something so intangible and subjective as one’s pain and one’s suffering? Everyone has a different pain threshold and human endurance. There is no specific answer. Dictionaries define the word reasonable as “rational”, “being within the bounds of common sense”, “not excessive or extreme”, “fair”. How much money for pain and suffering is reasonable? Is there a least common denominator for pain? A highest common multiple for suffering? No, of course not. There’s no such thing. So what do we look at to determine what is reasonable for pain and suffering? Often, lawyers look at cases where other people have had similar injuries – like a “blue book” for pain and suffering. In other words, they find a market value. But it’s not that simple.
Is it reasonable for someone who sustained only minor soft-tissue injuries (i.e., bruises, muscle strain, tendon strain, ligament strain) to collect $15,000 for pain and suffering while someone who suffered a fractured leg gets only $5,000? Maybe. Does it make sense for someone with some bruises and abrasions to get $50,000 while someone else with broken fingers gets only $20,000? Maybe. Why maybe?
Let’s take a look at the first situation. The person with the minor soft tissue injuries is 85 years old and has trouble getting around because of osteoarthritis, but managed fine before the accident. Now he experiences a lot more pain in his neck and back and can’t sit for any length of time and can’t walk to the grocery store and back. He needs to go the doctor for treatment, but that causes even more pain because it hurts to get into and out of a car. He also has a sensitive stomach, so is limited as to what kind of medication he can take to reduce the inflammation and pain. Does $15,000 sound better now? How about the person with the fractured leg? Suppose it was only a hairline fracture of the ankle requiring a soft removable cast for only two weeks. She works at a desk all day, rides an elevator up and down in the building. She told the lawyer in her deposition that it doesn’t hurt-she takes no pain medication. No physical therapy will be required afterwards. Only three visits to the doctor were needed, totaling $250 plus $100 for the removable cast. So, does $5,000 sound more “reasonable” now? Not excessive or extreme. Fair.
How about the second situation with the bruises and abrasions? $50,000 does seem like a lot of money, until you find out that the injured party has diabetes and will have to be hospitalized and face a long recuperation because of the open abrasions, if they go away at all. He may be treated for this malady for months or even years to come. He’s also prone to infection. A one week stay in the hospital could cost $10,000 just for the room itself, without taking into consideration the physicians’ bills, medical supplies, prescription medicines, etc. So, how does $50,000 sound now? As for the person with the broken fingers, his injury can be pretty painful. Well, broken fingers on a child heal very quickly-he’s only 4 years old. Did I mention it was his non-dominant hand? He’ll be fine in a week to ten days. There will be no pain when they’re splinted. He might be a little sore for a few days after the splint comes off. So, $20,000 sounds like it might even be too much, doesn’t it? As you can see, what’s reasonable for one person is not reasonable for another. All factors must be taken into account so a whole picture is formed before it is determined what is a reasonable award or settlement for pain and suffering.
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