There is no short answer to this question, but to be as brief as possible, let us begin by saying that, yes, you could receive compensation for embarrassment, as well as other types of emotional suffering that resulted from an accident. However, it is important to understand that these symptoms lumped together under the term “pain and suffering” are not always considered when the court calculates the sums to be paid by a negligent defendant.
What is “pain and suffering” in the court of law?
Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional distress faced as a result of an accident. The more severe the type of suffering endured, the more likely the courts are to award some form of compensation for it. For instance, if a person is diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of a severe accident, or if a rape victim is forced to a see a medical professional to correct sexual dysfunction after the attack, the pain and suffering is obvious. Embarrassment is a little less severe, in most estimations.
Nevertheless, your embarrassment, injuries, and emotional distress are worth a lot to you, and you should be compensated for being put through such agony. The courts agree, especially when it is a case of intentional negligence or gross negligence. When the defendant has acted in such a way that makes it clear that person or entity intentionally looked the other way, refusing to take action to prevent someone from suffering, the courts are far more likely to penalize them.
A slip and fall in a public space.
As a personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg, I see many people who have suffered at the hands of others. Imagine walking into a public restroom and waiting for an open stall. You fail to see the puddle forming under the sink, as a result of a pipe that had obviously been negligently repaired or replaced. By the time you get there, the water has seeped out far enough to be a hazard and catches you off guard. Right there, in front of everyone, you fall, hitting the sink on your way down. As you lay there, in utter embarrassment, you realize that you can’t stand up, because of the pain radiating from your leg, and there is blood from the impact with the sink. The medical team must retrieve you from the bathroom floor and carry you through the front of the store on a stretcher.
Compensation for embarrassment
In Florida, the jury first determines liability (who caused the incident). In the bathroom example, the store is liable for the negligently repaired or replaced pipe. The jury will then determine the medical bills in the past that were caused by this incident and the future medical bills. Next, they will decide the amount of lost wages and lost earning capacity caused by the fall. Finally, the jury is to determine various forms of pain and suffering, which are broken down into elements including disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past, or to be experienced in the future. Embarrassment would be considered a mental anguish, which is the emotions that result from the incident or injury. The amount of mental anguish can be presented in the form of a per diem argument to the jury, such as how much should this person be compensated per day. Some attorneys prefer per hour arguments, while others prefer to request lump sums that depend on how bad the mental anguish is and how long it has gone on. In each case, trial and jury are different, so you need to rely on your attorney to decide the best way to present your losses to the jury.
This is a very simplified example, so be sure to discuss your case further with a qualified trial attorney.