In a previous article, I described how past and future lost wages are proven in personal injury claims. This article will discuss how to prove and win money awards for pain and suffering in Louisiana injury cases.
Pain and suffering is a non-pecuniary damage, which means that it is not subject to calculation like pecuniary damages. Pecuniary damages include lost wages, property damage and medical bills. Pecuniary damages are determined by simple addition. For instance, if a Kenner injury victim incurs $3,500.00 in emergency room bills and $4,000.00 in chiropractic bills relating to a car accident, he can claim $7,500.00 in past medical bills.
But non-pecuniary damages (like pain and suffering and emotional distress) are not as easy to quantify because they do not lend themselves easily to objective calculation. Instead, an emotional appeal must be made to the sympathies of the jury to empathize with the injured plaintiff (accident victim) and award money based on the degree of suffering the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the accident related injury.
A plaintiff proves the degree of his or her pain and suffering by use of the following evidence:
- Plaintiff’s testimony: The injured victim should testify how the injury affected his or her life and to the degree of pain experienced as a result of the accident.
- Plaintiff’s family’s testimony: The victim’s family should testify how they have witnessed the victim’s life change for the worse as a result of the accident.
- Plaintiff’s doctors’ testimony: The plaintiff’s treating physicians should testify as to the level of pain that they would expect the plaintiff to experience as a result of the diagnosed injuries.
- Pictures of injuries: Pictures should be introduced evidencing the severity of the injuries claimed (e.g., bruising, swelling, scarring).
After the above evidence is submitted to the judge and jury, the plaintiff’s attorney will ask the jury during closing statements to award plaintiff an amount of money for pain and suffering commensurate with the degree of injury suffered by the plaintiff. Typically, the greater the injury, the greater the jury award. Also, juries on the West Bank and East Bank of Jefferson Parish will generally award less money than juries in New Orleans for the same injuries.
Law Office of Donald D’Aunoy Jr. is a personal injury law firm focusing on car accident, slip and fall and other injury claims. Please contact us if you have questions about pain and suffering.