In a traditional case of negligence, the fact that the Defendant did a bad act is not necessarily enough for the Plaintiff to recover sums of money. Our judicial system is grounded on the fact that we want to compensate victims, not punish wrongdoers. As such, if a Plaintiff suffers a harm by a Defendant but has no lasting injury or damages to show for it- it will be very difficult for that Plaintiff to recover any compensation. In addition to showing a duty that was owed to the Plaintiff, which was breached by the Defendant, the Plaintiff also has the burden of showing and proving that this breach caused him or her to sustain damages.
The evaluation of pain and suffering and of the other aspects of damages requires a determination of how badly the plaintiff was hurt—the nature, extent, severity, permanency, and effect of the injuries. While any sort of physical pain or injury may have been small, this is not a bar to recovery. Courts in Massachusetts have articulated that even if a bodily injury may have been very small, if it caused mental suffering to the plaintiff, that suffering was a part of the injury for which he/she was entitled to damages.
Showcasing damages may come in a variety of flavors. For instance, if the injury causes or contributes to cause the development of a pre-existing disease, the person liable for the injury is also liable for the resulting aggravation. A court may also look to the loss of earning capacity sustained by the Plaintiff. When deciding such an amount the factfinder (be it judge or jury) may take into consideration what type of person the plaintiff is, the talents he or she has, the contributions plaintiff has made to society, etc. Another category of damages is loss of enjoyment of life. This is measured by his or her status in community affairs, personal interests and hobbies, contribution to society, etc. A plaintiff may recover reasonable medical and hospital expenses incurred in treating the injuries caused by a defendant’s purported negligence. It is not necessary that the plaintiff actually paid the expenses, just that they were incurred (such as through insurance). Continue reading →