AUSTIN, Texas. Pain and suffering damages are considered the most subjective figure in any personal injury settlement. While medical bills and lost wages often come along with pay stubs and receipts as evidence of loss, pain and suffering damages are based on each person’s subjective experience after an accident. Generally, personal injury attorneys, like the Austin, Texas lawyers at the Robson Law Firm will review your medical expenses and lost wages, determine the seriousness of your injury, and use a special formula to determine pain and suffering awards. Your medical bills will be multiplied by another number known as a multiplier, which can range from 1.5 to 5 or higher. Depending on how permanent your injuries are or how seriously your injury has impacted your life, your pain and suffering award can be higher or lower.
However, every person’s subjective experience of pain and suffering will vary. The New Yorker recently reported on a new MRI scanning technique that allows researchers to visualize the brain while it is in pain. For the first time ever, pain researchers have been able to see which parts of the brain are activated in the most severe pain experiences. Will the new device change the way lawyers determine pain and suffering damages? After all, if there is now an objective method to measure pain, will the courts start to use it? Don’t count on this happening any time soon. There are only about a 100 of the MRIs available. Furthermore, the MRI studies have found some fascinating facts about how we experience pain. For example, pain can be experienced more severely if it is anticipated. This could impact objective pain studies. While the method has not yet been used in court, one judge has already found that such MRI evidence would be admissible in court. Some scientists believe that in the next decade, we might be using MRI scans to determine pain and suffering damages.
Still, researchers have improved their pain detection methods drastically. New algorithms and tests can show pain intensity and pain onset. There may be a future in which MRIs are used to determine the pain fakers from the patients experiencing the real deal. This might ultimately lead to better personal injury settlements for patients who are injured, because juries and judges might not have to worry about settling borderline cases. With strong objective evidence of pain, judges and juries can rule for the patient. In fact, the new testing methods could save doctor’s and court’s time. It could even have an impact on Social Security Disability cases.
Yet, some critics claim that pain is too subjective an experience to ever claim that it can be objectified by an MRI scan. After all, when it comes to pain and suffering settlements, a broken leg is never just a broken leg. A broken leg in an office worker might result in fewer damages than a broken leg in an elite athlete, for example.
The research can also help scientists better understand chronic pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic pain can arise out of a personal injury or car accident. How individuals experience pain can have an impact on whether chronic pain arises or not. Researchers hope that these studies will help them better understand chronic pain.
The Robson Law Firm is a personal injury attorney in Austin, Texas who is closely watching how new technology might change pain and suffering damages in the future. Until then, victims of accidents are wise to speak to a personal injury lawyer who can estimate pain and suffering damages using the court-approved formulas.
Robson Law Firm
1114 Lost Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 345-8200
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