When a hernia mesh implant fails to perform properly, and a patient suffers injury as a result, it isn't always easy to understand the scope of that harm. For one thing, some complications from hernia mesh failure might not show up right away, and the causal link between the patient's discomfort and a faulty implant isn't always immediately obvious. Another challenge involves capturing the patient's more subjective harm, including "pain and suffering" damages. How are non-financial losses like these defined, and how are they calculated in a hernia mesh case?
In any kind of personal injury case where the person filing the lawsuit (the plaintiff) is claiming to have suffered physical harm, "pain and suffering" is usually a category of the plaintiff's "damages" (which are losses suffered as a result of the at-fault party's negligence or other wrongdoing). Specifically, pain and suffering is a component of non-economic damages in a personal injury case.
While some forms of pain and suffering are just what the term indicates (physical pain and discomfort), this category of damages captures a wide range of impacts, from the physical effects of the underlying harm to the more mental and emotional. (Learn more about personal injury damages.)
So, in the context of a hernia mesh case, different kinds of pain and suffering might include:
These kinds of losses are more difficult to quantify when compared with economic damages (which include medical bills, lost income, and other out-of-pocket financial impacts attributable to a hernia mesh complications). While it's fairly easy to look at an itemized medical bill or pay stub and arrive at a dollar figure, people experience pain and its different impacts in different ways, especially when it comes to the psychological side of things. One hernia mesh patient's mild anxiety over a failed procedure might be another patient's devastation. So it's not hard to see that the way pain and suffering is defined from case to case—and how these damages are calculated―is much more subjective than it is formulaic.
Whether it's part of determining hernia mesh settlement value or anticipating what a jury will do, there is no simple method or formula for figuring out the plaintiff's "pain and suffering" in a hernia mesh case.
In a rough sense, "pain and suffering" and other non-economic damages are sometimes calculated in direct relation to the plaintiff's economic damages, sometimes with the use of a so-called "multiplier" (of 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 hernia mesh plaintiff's medical bills and lost income add up to $25,000, and a "pain and suffering" multiplier of 2 is used because the plaintiff is expected to make a full recovery soon and some of the health problems aren't obviously attributable to the hernia mesh. In that case, the plaintiff's "pain and suffering" damages are $50,000 (the $25,000 economic damages multiplied by 2).
It's important to keep in mind that the use of a multiplier and other calculation methods are 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 hernia mesh 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 own ability to serve as a good witness and effectively communicate to the judge and jury exactly how the hernia mesh failure has affected you.
Learn more about how pain and suffering is calculated in a personal injury case.