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    How Florida Courts Assess Pain and Suffering Damages

    When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, understanding how damages are assessed can be crucial in pursuing a personal injury claim. Pain and suffering damages are complex and often misunderstood.

    What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

    Pain and suffering damages refer to the compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury.

    This can include:

    • Physical pain: The actual physical discomfort and pain experienced due to the injury.
    • Emotional suffering: Mental anguish, anxiety, depression, and other emotional impacts resulting from the injury.
    • Loss of enjoyment of life: The inability to enjoy day-to-day activities or hobbies as a result of the injury.
    • Permanent disfigurement or disability: Long-term or permanent changes to your body or abilities.

    What the Law Says About Pain and Suffering in Auto Accidents

    Florida Statute 627.737 specifically addresses pain and suffering damages in auto accident cases. Under this statute, you can pursue non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, if your injury meets certain severity thresholds.

    The statute requires that one or more of the following conditions be met:

    • Significant and Permanent Loss of an Important Bodily Function: The injury must result in a significant and permanent impairment of a bodily function that is vital to your daily life.
    • Permanent Injury Within a Reasonable Degree of Medical Probability: A medical professional must diagnose the injury as permanent, indicating it will have long-term consequences.
    • Significant and Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement: Visible and permanent scarring or disfigurement resulting from the accident can qualify you for non-economic damages.
    • Death: In cases where the accident results in death, the deceased’s estate or surviving family members may seek pain and suffering damages.

    These threshold requirements do not necessarily need to be met in non-auto crash cases.

    The Role of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance

    Florida’s no-fault insurance system requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which covers medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who is at fault in the accident.

    However, PIP coverage does not compensate for pain and suffering damages. To pursue these non-economic damages, your injury must meet the statutory thresholds outlined above.

    Importance of Medical Evidence

    Strong medical evidence is crucial to meeting the criteria set forth in Florida Statute 627.737. This includes:

    • Detailed Medical Records: Documentation of the injury, treatment plans, and prognosis.
    • Expert Testimony: Statements from medical professionals regarding the extent and permanence of the injury.
    • Diagnostic Imaging: X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging studies that provide visual proof of the injury.

    What Determines the Value of Pain and Suffering in Florida?

    There’s no standard formula for measuring someone’s pain and suffering let alone placing a dollar value on it. However, several factors come into play when determining the value of pain and suffering damages, including:

    1. The Severity and Nature of the Injury: More severe and debilitating injuries generally lead to higher pain and suffering awards. Medical records, the nature of the injury, and the expected recovery time are all considered.
    2. The Impact on Daily Life: This is how the injury affects your ability to perform daily tasks and enjoy life. This includes evidence from personal testimonies, witness statements, and expert opinions.
    3. The Duration of Pain and Suffering: The length of time you are expected to endure pain and suffering. Chronic conditions, catastrophic injuries, and permanent disabilities typically result in higher compensation.
    4. The Age of the Victim: Younger victims might receive higher compensation because they potentially face a longer duration of suffering. For example, a teenager faces potentially decades of pain and suffering whereas an 88-year-old man may only have a few years left.
    5. Any Pre-existing Conditions: If you had pre-existing conditions that were worsened by the injury, this could affect the damages awarded. For example, if you suffered from back pain before the accident, it may be more difficult to prove the accident caused new back pain.
    6. Medical Treatment Required: The type and amount of medical treatment needed can also influence the amount of pain and suffering damages. More extensive and long-term treatment often correlates with higher compensation. For example, a patient needing skilled nursing for years will likely have significantly higher medical costs than a patient who can be treated as an outpatient for six months.

    Legal Representation is Crucial

    Personal injury cases with pain and suffering damages require skilled legal representation. An experienced personal injury attorney can present compelling evidence and argue for fair compensation based on the unique aspects of your case.

    Leighton Panoff Law fights for the rights of injury victims so they receive the compensation they deserve. Our team of experienced attorneys understands the nuances of Florida law and will work tirelessly to build a strong case on your behalf.

    If you or a loved one has been injured, don’t face the legal challenges alone. Contact Leighton Panoff Law today for a free consultation.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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