Evaluating Pain and Suffering: A Difficult Task

In a personal injury lawsuit, it is always difficult for the trial lawyer representing the injured victim to talk about money in the context of pain and suffering. How does one fairly compensate an individual who is suffering as a result of the acts of a third party? Someone who is sitting still at a stop sign and who is rear-ended by a commercial truck, for example, and who sustains a broken neck or back is going to be faced with a lifetime of pain and suffering. How does one fairly compensate such an individual with money? This is a difficult determination which juries must wrestle with and which trial lawyers must address in their presentations on behalf of their innocent clients.
One of the things I think about as a trial lawyer is the ridiculous salaries that are paid to sport figures. There is a recent Georgia Tech graduate, whose name will not be repeated here, who is in the NBA that I read in a news article recently who is making over $50 million per year for a NBA team that did not even make the playoffs. This staggering amount of money, obviously, is way too much money for a basketball player, who has no skills other than being able to shoot a basketball. And yet, if I stand up in front of a jury on behalf of someone with a broken neck or back and I were to ask for $50 million, I would be subject to ridicule and scorn even though my client with a broken neck or back might have to live for as long as 40 to 50 years with incredible pain and suffering. While I agree that 40 to50 million dollars is greatly excessive for such a claim, the disconnect comes when one looks at the value of a single year of basketball for a losing team verses 40-50 years of life in suffering for an innocent victim who did nothing wrong.
The good news is that juries are typically comprised of people from the community with a great deal of common sense. Most juries compromise on issues such as this and reach the best decision they can as to what award of compensation would be fair to provide some financial relief for the innocent victim who is subjected to a lifetime of pain and suffering. Obviously, none of us ever want to be in the position of having to ask a jury to give us fair compensation. This is because none of us want to be subjected to a lifetime of pain and suffering. And yet, in modern society, there are those among us who will be injured, through no fault of our own, and who will have to appear before juries asking that they be treated fairly. The great thing about the American judicial system that is as a rule American juries are fair.

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