“Dealing with Plaintiffs That Want Pain and Suffering Damages but No Medical Expenses"

DRI Trials and Tribulations

Attorney Murray FlintMurray Flint authored an article published in the July 2019 edition of Trials and Tribulations, the newsletter of Defense Research Institute's (DRI) Litigation Skills Committee, which discussed challenges for attorneys defending against claims in which the plaintiff seeks compensation for pain and suffering, but not for medical expenses.

Incidents where there is clear liability, low damages and plenty of insurance coverage should be easy to settle — such as a texting-and-driving accident where medical bills are minimal. However, things get complicated when the claim does not include medical expenses because the plaintiff does not intend to present the medical bills at trial, but rather, they intend to ask the jury for a “fair” verdict based instead on pain and suffering damages after describing the defendant’s bad conduct and the trauma of the incident.

This approach has become increasingly common in cases with low special damages and bad conduct. They are often unpredictable and difficult to valuate as results are not based on “hard numbers." States are split on whether to consider medical expenses in proving pain and suffering damages, but for attorneys practicing in a state where past medical expenses are inadmissible in pain and suffering claims, it is best to develop a backup plan before trial.

“The most important thing to remember is that plaintiff’s medical treatment should still be admissible evidence, even if the associated expenses are not, and a well-crafted description of superficial treatment may do the trick.” said Murray.

For the full article, please click here.


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