When you’re experiencing health problems possibly linked to asbestos in baby powder or other talcum products, it isn’t always easy to determine the scope of the harm you have potentially suffered. One issue is that symptoms related to the use of talc might not show up right away. Another challenge involves quantifying the more subjective effects of a talc-related illness, including what’s known as “pain and suffering.” How are nonfinancial losses like these defined, and how are they calculated in a talc-asbestos case?
In personal injury cases where a plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) is claiming to have suffered physical harm, "pain and suffering" is usually a category of the "damages." (Damages are losses resulting from the at-fault party's negligence or other wrongdoing.) More specifically, pain and suffering is a component of "general" or "noneconomic" damages. These kinds of losses are more difficult to quantify than "economic" damages, which include medical bills, lost income, and other out-of-pocket financial impacts attributable to the plaintiff's injuries.
While it's fairly easy to look at an itemized medical bill or pay stub and arrive at a dollar figure, people experience pain in different ways, making it tough to determine fair compensation for that pain and its impacts. Indeed, the definition of and damages for pain and suffering are more subjective than formulaic. (Get more information on damages in a personal injury case.)
While some forms of pain and suffering are just what the term suggests—physical pain and discomfort—the concept covers a wide range of impacts, from the physical effects of the underlying harm to emotional distress.
In the context of a lawsuit over baby powder or another talc-based personal hygiene product, specific types of pain and suffering might include:
Whether you’re trying to determine the settlement value of a talc-asbestos case or anticipate what a jury might award in the event a lawsuit goes to trial, there is no simple method or formula for calculating the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.
While pain and suffering is largely subjective, lawyers, insurers, and courts sometimes calculate it and other noneconomic damages in direct relation to the plaintiff's economic damages. Sometimes they use a so-called "multiplier" (generally between 1.5 and 4) that is based on the seriousness of the physical injuries, the clarity of the defendant's liability, and other factors.
For example, let's say a plaintiff in a talc-asbestos case has medical bills and lost income that add up to $50,000, and a pain-and-suffering multiplier of 2 is used because some of the health problems aren't obviously attributable to the use of talcum products. In that case, the plaintiff's pain-and-suffering damages are $100,000—the $50,000 economic damages multiplied by 2. (Learn more about how pain and suffering is calculated in a personal injury case.)
It’s important to keep in mind that the use of a multiplier (or another calculation method) is just a starting point when it comes to figuring out pain and suffering, especially when injuries are significant and the plaintiff’s experience is unique. And if your talc-asbestos lawsuit makes it all the way to trial, one of the biggest determinants of the value of your pain-and-suffering damages is you—specifically, your ability to serve as a good witness and effectively communicate to the judge or jury exactly how your talc-related health problems have affected you.
But the first step in seeking fair compensation for your damages—including pain and suffering and other losses—is finding an attorney with experience in talc-asbestos cases like yours.