What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering in North Carolina?

When you are injured by another person, you need to be compensated for your financial damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. Unfortunately, the impacts that a serious injury can have on a victim are not solely monetary in nature. They also come with an emotional element, one that is just as harmful and just as real as your economic damages, and just as compensable. Most people have heard of pain and suffering but might not understand what qualifies and how much they might be owed. 

How does North Carolina value pain and suffering?

If you were injured in a North Carolina personal injury accident, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation. Reach out to a North Carolina personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp so that we can explain your rights, and advise you of the legal options available to you in a free consultation. 

How Are Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Remuneration for pain and suffering following an accident is designed to compensate you for the physical pain and mental trauma you endured due to your injuries. Sadly, there is no objective measure by which a dollar amount can be placed on these intangible damages. Victims can obtain compensation for their pain and suffering for a percentage of their economic damages, equal to their economic damages, or several times greater than their economic damages.

When calculating a precise dollar figure for pain and suffering, the court will take into account:

  • The impacts that the victim’s injuries and disabilities have on their day-to-day life and their ability to take part in activities
  • Whether or not the victim’s injuries and disabilities have restricted or terminated their ability to work
  • Whether or not the victim’s injuries have had an on their relationships 
  • Whether the victim is forced to endure a decreased quality of life, such as living with chronic pain, insomnia, night terrors, post-traumatic stress disorder, or humiliation and embarrassment caused by disfigurement or permanent scarring

Only in cases of medical malpractice does North Carolina law impose a limit on financial compensation for pain and suffering. This limit is revised annually in accordance with the Consumer Price Index. This limit, however, does not apply in cases involving disfigurement, permanent injury, loss of use of a body part, or death, or in cases where the defendant acted with recklessness, gross negligence, malice, willfulness, or fraud. 

Examples of Qualifying Medical Conditions 

Minor injuries with a short recovery window will most likely not support a claim for pain and suffering. Severe injuries that involve immense physical pain and weeks or even months of recovery and rehabilitation most likely will. 

Some of the injuries that typically qualify for damages for pain and suffering include:

  • Degloving injuries (these occur when the skin is ripped away from the muscle)
  • 3rd and 4th-degree burn injuries
  • Torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Bone breaks and fractures
  • Herniated spinal disc 
  • Crush injuries 
  • Nerve damage
  • Perforation injuries
  • Damage to vital internal organs
  • Paralysis and other spinal cord injuries
  • Loss of hearing or vision
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Dismemberment or amputation
  • Loss of the use of a body part or loss of the body part itself
  • Disfigurement or permanent scarring 

Examples of Qualifying Emotional Pain

As if the physical pain caused by a serious injury wasn’t enough, the emotional consequences that accompany it might also be compensable. 

Some examples of emotional anguish that typically qualify for damages for pain and suffering are:

  • Night terrors, insomnia, and other sleep disturbances 
  • Abrupt mood swings for no apparent reason
  • The presence of depression or anxiety that did not previously exist
  • New phobias associated with the incident, such as fear of riding in a car or getting in an elevator
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or a lack of interest in pursuits you once enjoyed
  • Irritability or uncontrollable outbursts
  • Embarrassment or humiliation due to physical handicaps, disfigurement, and scarring 
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Talk to a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer

Pain and suffering are very real and they are damages for which accident victims should be compensated. You might find it helpful to discuss your situation with a North Carolina personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to ensure that you understand your rights and what you can reasonably expect from your case. Call (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free consultation with us today. 

Related Content