In personal injury cases, there are different types of compensation that may be awarded, including past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past pain and suffering, and future pain and suffering. Medical expenses are economic damages. Past medical expenses are relatively easy to determine as they are simply the bills from the victim’s doctor, hospital, and therapists, as well as the fees for medication and medical equipment. Fees for future medical expenses are more speculative in that it would be based on medical testimony as to the type of treatment that the victim is like to have to have in the future—sometimes years in the future. The jury would have to decide on the credibility of competing medical testimony as to what is likely to happen in the future.
Pain and suffering is even more difficult to determine. With past and even future medical expenses, the basis for the calculations are the costs of specific treatment. Pain and suffering is compensation for the physical pain that the victim suffered as well as the emotional pain. For future pain and suffering, the life expectancy of the victim is a significant factor in determining the amount of damages. For example, if the victim ends up with a permanent limp or with permanent facial scars, the “suffering would be for the rest of that person’s life. If they are 20-years old at the time of the accident, the length of suffering would be much longer than that of a 20-year old victim because generally, the life expectancy of a 20 year old is longer than the life expectancy of a 70-year old.
Background and Injuries