A few weeks ago we discussed why an injured person might sue someone when they were injured because that person broke a rule or was careless and caused injury.
The next week we talked about why that person might not be responsible. Examples of defenses are if the person injured was also breaking a rule or could have avoided injury through paying attention.
Now, let’s talk about the different types of damages that can be awarded by a jury. The first is pain and suffering. Being hurt is no fun. Being hurt because someone else was careless is worse. A jury has to determine what is fair pay for pain. A great lawyer, Francis Hare, said “If you believe in religion, you believe that an omnipotent God thought nothing worse as a supreme punishment in hell than to make it a place of pain. If you do not, you believe that the collective imagination of man could conceive of nothing worse”. Pain must be considered for an award of damages.
Suffering is different in that when an injured person imposes on their family to care for them due to an injury caused by carelessness that imposition is embarrassing because most people make a contribution to their family and when they can’t, they don’t like it. They should be awarded money for that imposition. Medical bills, lost wages, future medical bills as well as future pain and suffering and permanent injury should be compensated under the law. There are losses of enjoyment of life where people can’t play with their children, go bowling, or hunting and fishing and those are considerations for a jury to consider as damages.
Remember that in statutory actions, specifically workers compensation, there are no awards for loss of enjoyment of life. Damages in these cases are purely statutory and are set forth in weeks of payment and specified by category. These damages are either vocational in nature or set by a schedule of weeks for loss for a particular injury. How damages are calculated and presented can make a great deal of difference in the amount of money awarded by the Court. There is no right to a jury in statutory actions.
Buckle up and drive safely.
McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C.
2210 Helton Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630