Letter to the Editor: Pain and Suffering Very Real to Accident Victims

Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The recent Dispatch editorial “Curb lawsuit abuse” failed to recognize that capping noneconomic damages, those for “pain and suffering,” does indeed deprive injured plaintiffs of fair compensation.
Although sometimes hard to measure, “pain and suffering” damages are just as real as more tangible injuries. They include such crushing life-altering conditions as blindness, loss of fertility and, in general, loss of opportunity to live a full and productive life, whatever that would have meant for the injured victim.
Furthermore, it is precisely because the worth of these losses will vary tremendously from person to person that juries are the perfect and only appropriate arbiters of such damages.
Juries walk into the courtroom with meaningful knowledge of the community and, through the trial process, become intimately familiar with the personal situation of the plaintiff: lost hopes, aspirations and heart-breaking deprivations.
Finally, aside from medical expenses, economic damages are largely composed of lost wages and future earnings.
Thus, relying primarily on them for compensation strongly discriminates against the most economically vulnerable, such as women and the elderly, who tend to have lower earning capabilities, as well as the most catastrophically injured, whose degree of "pain and suffering" is tremendous.
Senate Bill 80 should not pass, and its supporters would do well to have a full understanding of its consequences before allowing their knee-jerk venom toward trial lawyers to trump both reason and compassion.
Laurie Beacham
Communications Director
Center for Justice and Democracy
New York

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