Pain and suffering can’t be calculated using objective values that lead to an exact figure, unlike other forms of damages whose monetary value can be accurately established. For instance, medical expenses can be reduced to an exact dollar value, whereas the calculation of pain and suffering is a more subjective process. Nevertheless, proving pain and suffering is critical in a personal injury case. Sometimes the pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff is disproportionate to the actual costs incurred, and this should be compensated as well. There are several ways of proving the pain and suffering of a plaintiff, as discussed below.
Presenting witnesses is a way of establishing the pain and suffering of a plaintiff. But who are these witnesses?
For one, the plaintiff themselves can choose to take the stand and testify as to their pain and suffering. The plaintiff is in the best position to testify about their experience. The plaintiff can usually testify as to how and when the pain started, what induced the pain, what kind of treatment was used to address this (if any), and effects suffered by the plaintiff. However, the defendant may also use this as an opportunity to discredit the plaintiff and claim that the plaintiff is exaggerating their symptoms.
To address the possibility of the defendant discrediting the plaintiff, additional witnesses may be presented, such as medical doctors, who can testify as to their observation regarding the plaintiff’s suffering. Other medical personnel, such as nurses and therapists, may also testify to this effect.
If the plaintiff was cared for by family members or friends, then their testimony may be introduced to corroborate the testimony of the plaintiff. If the pain suffered by the plaintiff affects their work, then coworkers and employers may testify as to their own observations.
An inference may be made from the available records to establish the pain and suffering of the plaintiff. For example, the attending doctor may have made a note of the patient’s distress when they were admitted to the hospital. Requests for pain medication and episodes of anxiety can speak to the level of pain experienced by the plaintiff. Photographs may even be introduced to show the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.