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Determining Pain and Suffering Awards in Abuse Cases

How Do Juries Determine Pain and Suffering Awards in Abuse in Washington?

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In the State of Washington, juries are free to determine an award for pain and suffering in abuse cases in any manner in which they believe is proper.  As a result, there is no specific mathematical component to which juries must be bound.

In our experience as lawyers who have represented individuals who have suffered abuse in foster care or as the result of CPS or DSHS negligence, we believe that juries take into account the following considerations:

  • The extent of the abuse suffered.  The greater the amount of abuse that has been suffered, the higher the amount of the award for pain and suffering.   Cases involving broken bones, rape or sexual abuse, burns, and other extreme forms of abuse usually merit higher pain and suffering awards then abuse that is not as significant.  Abuse that has taken place over many months or years will likely warrant a larger award for pain and suffering than abuse taking place over a much shorter time duration.
  • The actual pain involved.  Jurors may put themselves in the place of the victim in determining how painful the abuse was.  Certain types of injuries, such as burns, can cause extreme pain for a significant length of time beyond the hours immediately surrounding the abuse.
  • Long-lasting physical injuries.  Some injuries, such as burns and cuts, may cause permanent scarring. Burns in particular may require many surgeries and painful rehabilitation.  Jurors typically recognize that injuries that result in permanent scarring deserve more pain and suffering compensation than injuries that don’t result in permanent scarring.  Additionally, scarring that is more likely to be noticeable and have a traumatic influence on a child’s future, such as facial scarring, will likely typically garner higher compensation. 
  • Long-lasting mental abuse.  For many victims of foster care abuse, the pain does not end when the physical injuries are healed.  This is especially true in cases of sexual abuse.  Jurors understand that with many types of foster home abuse, ongoing psychological help and treatment will likely be required, and that the victim will continue to have pain and suffering for many years.
  • The age of the child when the abuse took place.  While no form of abuse is ever acceptable under any conditions, jurors may believe that younger children may be more traumatized by abuse than older children simply because they have less ability to understand what is happening. 

We Work Hard to Recover the Full Amount of Damages For Our Clients

Our job as abuse lawyers in Washington is to seek for our clients a full recovery for all the damages that they have sustained.  This includes not only past damages, but also damages for future pain, suffering, medical treatment, and psychological counseling.

We work hard to present the horror of the abuse suffered by our clients to a jury so that they can fully appreciate the abuse that has taken place, and so that they will award appropriate compensation.

Only by fully understanding the case of our clients can juries truly understand and appreciate the suffering that has taken place.

If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or injury in a foster home setting, please call us today at 206-388-0333.

We can arrange to meet with you a time that is convenient with your schedule.  There is no cost or obligation for this meeting, and as we typically accept abuse cases on a contingency fee basis, you will owe no fees to us unless and until we recover a settlement or jury award for you or your loved one.