Wrongful Death

How to prove conscious pain and suffering in a wrongful death case

You’ve decided to file a wrongful death suit against the person who caused your loved one’s death. You may be familiar with damages like loss of income and loss of companionship, but did you know you can also recover for the pain and suffering that your family member experienced in the moments, hours, or days before they died?

These damages are known as “conscious pain and suffering,” and they’re recoverable with the help of a skilled Kansas City wrongful death attorney. Keep reading to learn how that’s done.


What is conscious pain and suffering?

“Conscious pain and suffering” refers to the pain or fear that your loved one experienced between their injury and their death. It’s a way to compensate the victim’s family for the agony their loved one endured through no fault of their own.

Certain situations do not warrant compensation for conscious pain and suffering. For instance, if your loved one didn’t see the semi-truck approaching and died immediately upon impact, it’s unlikely that you can recover for conscious pain and suffering. However, if your loved one survived the impact with severe injuries and spent a day in the hospital before passing away, they likely experienced fear, pain, or some other type of suffering that may warrant this type of compensation.

How do you prove conscious pain and suffering in a wrongful death case?

Witness testimony is crucial in proving these types of cases. You may have spent time at the hospital with your loved one before they passed away, or you may have communicated with doctors and otherwise acted as your loved one’s caregiver. In these situations, you likely saw firsthand the suffering that your loved one went through before they died. Your testimony is crucial in proving conscious pain and suffering.

Witness testimony from the scene of the incident can also attest to your loved one’s suffering. Your attorney may interview anyone who was involved or with the victim afterward.

(H3) What happens if I’m called to testify?

If your wrongful death lawyer decides to use your testimony for the case, be prepared. You’ll probably be deposed by both your lawyer and the defendant’s. Depositions are formal question-and-answer sessions conducted under oath and transcribed by a court reporter. These can be upsetting for many people, but your lawyer will be there during the session, offering support and advice. You may also have to testify at trial if your case isn’t settled out of court.

It’s not enough to simply show that the victim lived for a period of time after the accident. Your lawyer must demonstrate that they were in pain from the injuries. They may use your loved one’s medical records, which could contain any kind of palliative care provided or pain management strategies. If your loved one was in hospice, then the caregivers from hospice may also be deposed, as they could testify to your loved one’s pain and any type of pain management they provided.

What kind of damages are available in a wrongful death suit?

Missouri personal injury laws permit plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit to seek compensation for the pain and suffering their loved one experienced after the accident. However, the laws do not permit damages from the pain and suffering of death. It’s a small distinction but one that a defense lawyer will exploit. If your loved one’s death was close to simultaneous with their passing, then the defense lawyer may contest your claims for conscious pain and suffering.

You can seek economic compensation for:

  • Loss of financial contribution to the household, like unearned wages
  • Loss of retirement contributions or loss of a pension
  • Medical expenses your loved one incurred before they passed away

Your suit may also include non-economic damages, which include conscious pain and suffering, plus:

  • Loss of companionship, consortium, or guidance
  • Your loved one’s emotional trauma before they passed

Contact Langdon & Emison today for help pursuing a wrongful death claim

Do you need help holding the person who caused your loved one’s death accountable for their negligence? Are you curious about your options for a wrongful death lawsuit? We can help. Contact Langdon & Emison today by calling (866) 931-2115 for a free consultation with an experienced Kansas City wrongful death lawyer.