Pain and suffering damages are some of the most debated damages in personal injury law. Critics argue that because these damages are difficult to quantify or value, that they should be limited or eliminated altogether. However, recent studies have shown that pain and suffering, and grief following personal loss, can lead to inflammation responses in adults. This means that grief is not just something that happens in a person’s head. Grief has a real, measurable impact on the body.
While much of the money in damages personal injury victims will collect can be quantifiable either through pay stubs from lost wages, or through concrete medical bills—or estimates of medical expenses based on real prices of medical care—some damages won’t be so measurable. Pain and suffering damages fall into this class of damages.
According to one Forbes writer, damages that have a real market value are readily viewed as justifiable and fair. Yet, the author argues that psychic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of joy, are also very real. Yet, these damages are more difficult to place a value upon because they have no specific market value in our current system. While we can point to the value and cost of brain surgery, we cannot readily point to the value of grief a mother experiences after losing her son in a car wreck. Because of the difficulty of placing a value on these damages, many states impose caps on pain and suffering recovery.
Yet, a new study published in the journal, NeuroImage has found that pain and suffering may not be as abstract as these caps suggest. Researchers found evidence of inflammation in individuals suffering from serious stress and grief. When a person experiences stress and grief, the brain actually experiences quantifiable inflammation. This inflammation can be measured using a saliva test.
Right now, these inflammation tests seem limited to studies about how the brain processes grief. Yet, perhaps the future of pain and suffering damages will involve these saliva-based tests to measure inflammatory response in patients. Pain and suffering, in the future, may have quantifiable scientific evidence to back it up in the courtroom.
During the study, patients were exposed to triggering words and recalled their grief or trauma. The patients’ saliva was then tested to determine inflammation in the brain. When exposed to triggering words, inflammation was found to be higher.
Juries and judges should keep in mind that pain, grief, and lost joy are very real pain experiences—and there is countless research to back this up. Victims who have been injured in a car accident in Boise or Meridian, Idaho have just as much right to receive compensation for pain, suffering, and grief following their accident, as they do to recover medical bills and lost wages.
If you are experiencing pain, suffering, or grief as a result of a car accident in Meridian or Boise, Idaho, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses. A personal injury lawyer can help. The Law Office of Johnson & Lundgreen can assist you in your personal injury law needs.