Definition of Pain & Suffering in Medical Malpractice Cases

You may have heard about compensation awarded to the patients for their ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ caused due to negligence or substandard care by physicians, nurses or any other medical professionals, a phenomenon called medical malpractice in law jargon. The question is, how many people know the exact meaning of these terms and how to prove and calculate these abstract feeling. This blog covers all these in a layman’s language.

Defining Pain and Suffering

‘Pain’ and ‘Suffering’ are two terms integral to the components a medical malpractice compensation claim is filed for. There are both physical and mental aspects of pain and suffering that a patient endures due to an injury resulting from medical malpractice. The defending healthcare service provider is liable for the injured patient’s pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case, in addition to other damages including medical bill and lost wages.

Whereas physical pain and suffering are often visible, mental agony and frustration, though usually hard to decipher, are not insignificant. Emotional and Mental suffering involves non-physical suffering caused by the accident. It covers emotional stress that results from permanent impairment, disfigurement, loss of function and consortium and loss of the ability to enjoy pleasure of life.

Disfigurement, Loss of Ability to Experience Life’s Pleasure, Permanent or Temporary Loss of Function

Let’s imagine a situation where a surgical error results in loss of part or all the jaw bones of a patient. As a result, the person endures physical suffering from the surgery and every time, he tries to eat.

But there are more to his physical pain and suffering. Emotional stress presses heavily on the injured as he might feel depressed and embarrassed due to disfigurement. The plaintiff would be awarded compensation if they jury find that the injured has suffered impairment or a permanent loss of function due to the jaw bone surgery.

The jury, in all probability, would take into consideration the injured plaintiff’s loss of ability to enjoy life’s entertainment and pleasures such as, eating or kissing. Remember that everything is based on the proofs of what the patient used to enjoy before his injury and what he lost after it.

A jury can consider other aspects such as, the expected lifespan of the plaintiff, his lifestyle habits and whether the person was in good health before suffering the injury to figure out the sum of compensation.

Demographics also figures in proving pain and suffering. A teenage girl or a promising model is most likely to receive higher compensation than a 65-year old person. In a nutshell, the jury award for compensation is subjective and that explains for its ‘inconsistent’ character.

Loss of Consortium

The term ‘Loss of Consortium’ refers to the extent of the impact the injury inflicts on the plaintiff’s ability to offer love, care, affection, companionship or services. Most people correlates the ‘Loss of Consortium’ to the couple’s sexual life. However, the jury always considers it in a broader aspect.

Loss of consortium is usually not awarded unless the plaintiff has suffered a severe and permanent injury, such as paralysis or even death.

Talk to a medical malpractice attorney in Miami, FL to assess how much your pain and suffering cost before filing compensation claim.