When I speak with potential clients for personal injury or employment law claims, such as wrongful termination or discharge, in Texas I often notice some uneasiness during the conversation when discussing making the client whole for non-physical losses like pain and suffering. Decades of insurance industry advertising has been very effective in making people feel like they are ripping off the system to recover for very real pain and suffering.
The insurance industry has been very effective in making people believe very abnormal and irrational concepts about responsibility. This has the benefit of making people believe they should not recover and as jurors they should be suspicious. That increases the probability that they can resolve claims by settlement or litigation and pay little or nothing. Just because the insurance companies want to disregard responsibility does not mean you should not be made whole. This is an important understanding in valuing pain and suffering losses in a personal injury lawsuit.
Valuing settlements and judgments in a Texas personal injury lawsuit
If you have ever been injured or undergone surgery then you know pain is a natural companion. That pain is unpleasant and can affect your mobility, your personality, your ability to perform your job. (Especially if you work in sales or customer service where pleasantness is a part of your job.) That effect on your body and your life is very real. It’s an effect of the event that led to your injury. If somebody else caused that injury then they also caused that pain. The party that caused your injury is responsible for your pain just like any other effect of your injury.
Some people believe that because money cannot “fix” pain then it doesn’t make sense to make you whole for the pain with more money. That is a strange idea if you think about it.
First of all, sometimes the pain is curable by medical equipment, therapy and so on that costs money. In that case, the money can directly alleviate the pain.
Second, although you cannot always buy a good or service to eliminate the pain you can use that money to acquire goods or services that bring you happiness that offsets some of that pain.
Third, money is generally the only remedy available to us to make somebody whole for a civil wrongdoing. You cannot undo the exact harm caused in most cases. Money is one of the few remedies in a civil society.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the idea that if a remedy is imperfect then it is no remedy is bizarre. It says since you can’t undo pain with a court order then the person that caused the pain should bear no responsibility for causing it. This argument that money can’t fix a civil wrong often rolls out in wrongful death cases. Hey, it is true. Money can’t bring a person back from the dead. Imagine if defense counsel said the same thing in a murder case. “Prison won’t bring that person back from the dead.”
Would we let the accused go because imprisoning the wrongdoer won’t bring back the victim?
Valuing pain and suffering with an attorney in Texas
The problem with valuing pain and suffering losses is that it is difficult to come up with a number for a loss that nobody else can experience in the same way as that person and external evidence is an imperfect guide for how the pain really affects that person. The only close guide we have is how past juries have treated pain in similar injuries. (Which is why insurance companies want to afflict the minds of potential jurors.) Various formulas have been used over the years by personal injury attorneys and insurers to assess what a future jury might do. These formulas are imperfect and there is little agreement between opposing sides on which formula is most correct. This is a good reason to contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation to understand your legal rights.
Determining settlement and jury numbers is often a combination of prior jury verdicts, previous experience and the facts. Valuation is as much of an art as it is a science. A personal injury or employment attorney can assist the client in assessing the value of the claims. If you suffered injuries in a car cash, talk to Texas car accident lawyers about your case.