Top Ways to Document Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is sometimes used as a comedian’s punchline for extra money lawyers get their clients after a car accident. But the reality is that the pain suffered after an accident is not funny at all. If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, the pain and suffering you feel afterward is real, and you deserve to be compensated for it.
Defining Pain and Suffering
In court, compensation for pain and suffering is also called “non-economic damages.” These types of damages are for injuries that do not have a measurable dollar amount. For instance, having a broken bone x-rayed and set has a billable dollar amount, but the pain of breaking the bone and waiting for it to heal does not.
Pain and suffering also includes the impact your injury has on your life. If you received a concussion in a car accident and now have headaches so severe you cannot work, the lost income is an economic loss, but the pain of the headaches and the inability to work are non-economic losses. You are entitled to compensation for both types of injury.
Documenting and Proving Pain and Suffering
Proving the degree of “pain and suffering” can be difficult because we have no objective measurement for pain. You are entitled to compensation for both your emotional and physical injuries.
Demonstrating the extent of your pain and suffering requires as much documentation as proving your physical injuries. There are several things you should do to present your case to the court as clearly as possible.
- Keep a daily journal. The best proof of the impact your injury has had on your life is your own words. Be as specific as possible in your descriptions. Describe what goes on each day and how your injury affects your activities. For instance, if you have a back injury that makes it difficult to get out of bed, describe what exactly is painful about getting out of bed. “Woke at 9:00 am. Pain in lower back. Sitting up sent pain through legs. Had to lie back down. Took 15 minutes to get legs to the floor.”
- Assign a score. Doctors use a ten-point pain scale when evaluating pain, with one being no pain at all and ten being the worst pain you ever felt. If you have pain throughout the day or your injury causes you intermittent pain, use that pain scale to rank your pain. Describe how it changes after you take medication. For instance, “Pain in lower back was at a nine when I woke up. Took some medication, 30 minutes later it was at a seven and I could get up. Was back at eight after walking, and I had to sit back down.”
- Emotional effects. Your journal can also provide a record of the emotional and psychological effects of your injury. If you are seeing a psychologist or counselor for emotional trauma, their reports can be important in showing the mental impact the accident has had. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common after a serious accident. It can manifest as anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating disorders, and other psychiatric illnesses. Be sure to note these effects in your journal.
- Therapy records. Your therapist keeps a running log of your progress, so this is an excellent way to track how you are doing over time. These records also show how an injury has affected your abilities compared to how you were doing prior to the accident. For instance, if you are only able to walk for ten minutes following the accident, your therapist can testify that a person of your age and health would normally be able to walk for 30 minutes without pain.
- Affidavits from friends and family. The statements from others about how you have been affected by the accident can be very helpful in establishing the less visible effects the accident has had on you. They can relate any effect on your mood, your work habits, and your behavior. This can be important in establishing the value of your non-economic damages.
How We Can Help
Your attorney can advise you further about what may be needed to present your pain and suffering in court. If you have been involved in an accident due to another person’s careless or negligent behavior, you should seek legal consultation right away.
Call the New York personal injury attorneys of Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. at 516-496-0400 right away, or contact us online and let us review your case. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.