Jamie is an easy-going tech worker that works three remote jobs from the comfort of his home. He makes decent money and occasionally loves taking a ride on his bike through the Tampa District on warm evenings. Then one day, in a rush, a taxi takes a hard left to cut through Jamie’s usual route. The effect? A severe collision.
Six weeks and thousands of dollars worth of therapy later, Jamie still lacks the full function of his fingers. He battles with a poor cognitive ability and is sinking into the worst rut of depression he has ever faced. Worry, indebtedness, and inability to hold down a good job like those lost while in recovery would not let him sleep or eat. People often forget to consider mental health after injury. Jamie wonders whether there can be adequate compensation for the ‘unseen‘ injuries he has suffered. He knows there can be possible compensation for his disfigured fingers, but can he be compensated for his pain and suffering? What is the position of the law in Tampa?
Jamie decides to contract a personal injury lawyer and wants to ensure that the mental and emotional trauma he has been through is adequately compensated, along with the physical injuries he sustained in the accident.
Are you like Jamie (or you know one all too well)? Are you asking these pertinent questions ‘is there a remedy? ‘does the law have something for what I’m going through mentally or emotionally?
In today’s world of Covid, lockdowns, and price hikes, there has never been a more challenging time for the mental well-being of so many, nor has there been a perfect time for you to learn how much the law has put in place to ensure your mental health.
Personal Injury and Your Mental Health
Personal injury claims often arise from the negligent acts of a person or institution and how these actions have led to the injury of another person. For example, distracted or careless driving, slip, and fall at the workplace, or medical misdiagnosis can cause these injuries.
The physical effects of such accidents can be devastating. However, many such accidents often result in significant psychological injuries.
Personal injuries cover physical and mental injuries, but the law seems to place a bias on what she can see (funny seeing that she’s blindfolded). The law may place a premium on injuries that can be established by showing evidence, covering patent and easily visible damages. More often than not, this may lie in favor of physical injuries in proving its case.
Mental health awareness has been on the rise at this time more than any other in history. Support groups, charities, and organizations have continued to laud the effect of mental health on a person’s overall well-being. Insurance policies have been set up not to cover not only physical illnesses but mental illnesses as well. Psychiatrists have as many patients as general physicians and the plastic surgeons of Doctor 90201.
Much more attention is now being given to the possibility of focusing more adjudication on non-physical but just as traumatizing injuries that people face. These injuries include psychological and emotional traumas like;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD)
- Fear and anxiety disorder
- Sleeping and eating disorders, like insomnia and loss of appetite.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Mood swings.
Pain and Suffering
The Legal term for the physical and psychological injuries incurred by victims of accidents is the phrase, ‘Pain and Suffering.’ It covers any substantial physical, mental, or emotional pain a victim may face after an accident. In many instances, personal injury victims experience a diminished quality of life due to these factors.
Why is the term ‘Pain and Suffering’ significant?
The phrase ‘Pain and Suffering’ is necessary because it is the only head in Personal Injury law under which we can bring actions for mental, emotional, or any psychological trauma or loss resulting from accidents and the like. The peculiarity with such injuries is how they do not have a set-out system of measurement of the degree or amount of hurt and thus no proper means of measuring damages. Without its presence in Personal injury law, psychological injuries would fall through the cracks for want of a suitable remedy.
It also covers the victim’s family in the eventuality of death by allowing them to sue for loss of consortium, which may cover one or more of the following;
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of care
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of spousal intimacy
Although this term covers physical and psychological injuries, definitions of law limit the compensation to those that accrue to a victim due to the physical injuries they sustain. Examples of these physical injuries include;
- Long-term disability
- Shortened life expectancy
- Present and future physical limitations
- Complications to daily life
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Significant disfigurements, such as scars, amputations, or burns
- Loss of bodily function
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Proving Psychological Pain and Suffering
Psychological injuries need just as much proof as physical injuries. Seeing as these injuries are latent, they would require the expert evidence of a professional to prove the injury claim. Many personal injury victims fail to seek treatment for emotional damages, so limited medical information may be available to support these claims. Calculating the victim’s mental anguish and other mental injuries is often the judge or jury’s task. This practice often results in inconsistent verdicts.
Just as a personal injury lawyer often recommends seeking medical attention for physical injuries, they may also recommend seeking prompt and thorough medical attention regarding mental injuries. Documents like;
- Medical reports
- Doctor’s notes
- Therapist’s or mental health counselor’s notes
- Personal journals that document the victim’s pain and suffering etc.
And similar documents of equal weight in proving the claim through evidence would aid the judge or jury in establishing psychological injury. They will assist in calculating adequate compensation for the claim. The more evidence there is, the more likely the judge or jury would tilt in favor of the victim’s claim and perspective of how adverse the injury had on them mentally and emotionally.
Calculating Pain and Suffering: Mental Health After Injury
Every personal injury case is different; hence, the calculations regarding compensation for pain and suffering will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Several factors are considered by judges, the jury, and insurance adjusters when calculating damages for Pain and Suffering. These factors include the following:
- The type or types of injuries suffered.
- How long the pain lasted (Duration)
- The severity of the pain.
- Location and nature of the scarring or disfigurement
- Effect and aftermath on the victim’s life.
- Recovery time
- Anticipated future problems
- Age of the victim at the time of the injury
- Evidence from an attorney
And other factors
Any combination of these factors can contribute to pain and suffering calculations but, there are two ways to calculate pain and suffering, including but not limited to;
The multiplier method is when the actual damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, etc.) total a specific amount and are multiplied by a number that depends on the severity of your injury to determine the pain and suffering calculation amount for the victim. The multiplier is usually between one and five.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method is the assignment of a specific dollar amount every day from the day of the accident to the day the victim reaches maximum medical recovery. To clarify, full recovery is when a medical professional does not expect a victim’s condition to improve further.
Why you need an experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Suing for Pain and Suffering can be pretty complicated, especially regarding the psychological, mental, or emotional part. Therefore, you would want a lawyer who knows the legal provisions and can also justify why the Psychological effects or downsides of any accident you may have faced deserve a remedy, not just any remedy but a remedy worthy of the injury suffered. An experienced lawyer should calculate your damages, considering all the factors earlier listed, and ensure none escapes without adequate redress.
A Personal Injury Attorney should be able to justify his considerations before a judge, an adjuster, or a jury with evidence. They should understand what calculation method is fitting enough to get you the adequate compensation for damages. Not getting an experienced Personal Injury Attorney may risk your injury claim.
Time to Think About it?
Sure thing! But, you shouldn’t think too long because Florida has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. According to the Florida Statutes Section 95.11, the timeframe for a person to file a lawsuit is four years. The time starts to count on the date of the accident. You could lose your rights if you do not submit your case within this legal time limit.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has dealt with pain and suffering due to a personal injury accident, you should not hesitate to contact our skilled personal injury attorney, Constance Coleman.
2901 1st Avenue North Suite 303 Saint Petersburg FL 33713.