Pain and Suffering Damages in Texas
Texas is one of many states that allows accident victims to recover for intangible (or general) damages as well as tangible ones. Intangible damages, or non-economic damages, are those without a set monetary value. They include emotional distress, mental anguish, lost quality of life, and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can refer to many harms an accident victim may suffer, from physical pain to emotional suffering. It can be concrete, like the pain of a broken bone, or more abstract, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Pain and suffering damages are important for victims who suffer fear, stress, anxiety, depression, or other such harms after a trauma. To learn more about pain and suffering damages specific to your case, consider speaking with a knowledgeable Austin personal injury lawyer.
Recovery Rules and Damage Caps in Texas
For noneconomic harms, the state of Texas offers monetary recovery in a personal injury lawsuit. However, there is a cap on the amount of noneconomic damage recovery an individual can receive. In any medical malpractice, car accident, slip and fall, premises liability, or defective product claim, the Texas courts impose a cap on noneconomic damages that limits the amount of pain and suffering damages a victim can take home.
In Texas, one cannot receive more than $250,000 for pain and suffering, no matter what the circumstances. If the state of Texas is your defendant (such as in a claim against a public or governmental entity), your total damage recovery cannot exceed $100,000. This means that no matter how much the courts deem your pain and suffering is worth, you cannot come away with more than these damage caps.
Proving Pain and Suffering
Noneconomic damages are much more difficult to valuate than economic ones. While economic, or specific, damages such as medical expenses and lost wages have exact monetary values, noneconomic harms do not. It can be more difficult to prove noneconomic damages as well. Instead of using medical bills, receipts, and pay stubs to prove value, plaintiffs must use other means to measure their pain and suffering. This can include addressing the associated mental injury of every physical injury or proving chronic pain through medical documents.
How the Courts Calculate Pain and Suffering
An example of emotional suffering is a child dog bite victim who is terrified of playing outdoors since the incident occurred. The courts will take this fear into account when determining noneconomic damages. When placing a value on pain and suffering, a judge and jury will look at the amount of pain that occurred at the time of the accident, as well as continued or regularly experienced pain and suffering as a result of injuries. Factors that may come into play during pain and suffering evaluations include:
- Pain from necessary medical treatment
- Long-term or chronic pain
- Emotional/mental trauma from the injuries
- How the injury affected the victim’s quality of life
- Whether pain prevents the victim from doing certain things
- Fear or discomfort the victim may experience in certain situations after the accident
Texas uses a basic multiplier to calculate pain and suffering. This multiplier ranges from one to five, with one being the least amount of damage and five the greatest amount. The courts will take the appropriate multiplier and use it with the expenses from specific damages.
For example, say your case is worth $20,000 in specific damages, but your pain and suffering comes with a multiplier of four for temporary brain damage. The courts will multiply your economic damages by four for a total of $80,000 in noneconomic damages. Keep in mind that this is a general framework. There is no law that forces plaintiffs to stick to this figure. When this method fails, plaintiffs are free to pursue higher amounts. Speak to a personal injury attorney in Texas for information regarding the value of your individual case.