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With serious injuries come serious pain and mental anguish. Pain and suffering is the element of damages in a civil case designed and intended to compensate the injured person for the physical and mental agony, aches, soreness, grief, anguish and inconveniences that result from being injured.
While it would be wonderful if we could turn back the hands of time and put the injured person back into the same condition as they were prior to the accident, this cannot be done. Rather, in the civil justice system when a person sues for pain and suffering, the only thing that can realistically be done is an attempt to quantify in monetary terms what a person has had to experience and endure as a result of their injuries.
By its very nature, pain and suffering is a vague and generalized concept that cannot be put into any specific technical definition. The Iowa Model Civil Jury Instructions instruct a jury that:
“Physical pain and suffering may include, but is not limited to, bodily suffering or discomfort. Mental pain and suffering may include, but is not limited to, mental anguish or loss of enjoyment of life.”
This element of damages cannot be measured by any exact or mathematical standard and the jury is instructed to “use your sound judgment based upon an impartial consideration of the evidence” however they are also cautioned “your judgment must not be exercised arbitrarily, or out of sympathy or prejudice, for or against the parties.”
There are numerous theories that are developed and advanced in order to quantify an injured person’s pain and suffering; however the question always boils down to one not so simple question:
“What is it worth to have endured what the plaintiff endured?”
There are only two “correct” answers to that question:
What the plaintiff or injured party says it is worth based upon what they are willing to settle their claim for; orWhat the jury says it is worth if the case proceeds to a jury trial.
Pain and suffering differs from person to person and from injury to injury. The most effective way to present pain and suffering arguments to both an insurance company and a jury is through a factually specific and detailed explanation of just what exactly each injury involved; what exactly each procedure required and what exactly physical therapy and rehabilitation efforts entailed. Without all of the necessary facts, a reasonable number cannot be put upon what an injured person must go through. For this reason, specific and detailed records and presentations are a must for anyone who has been injured do to thewrongful acts of another.
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Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm, PLC
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West Des Moines, IA 50266
Des Moines, Iowa: 515-226-0500
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Mason City, Iowa 50401