Grief, Pain & Suffering & Life

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The very public apparent suicide of Robin Williams is very painful for any human being who has a sense of decency and humanity. The suicide of anyone, regardless of the circumstances, is painful. The circumstances that bring someone to take their life, even in a somewhat understandable situation, are painful to bear.

My very close friend took his own life about 25 years ago. He was a very accomplished attorney, a good friend, charismatic and reached a point of despair I didn't understand then and don't understand now. I'm sure there are many people who have lost friends and family members to suicide that relive their loss when a public figure takes their own life.

In the attorney business, lawyers frequently see people who are emotionally and sometimes physically beat up, worn down and nearing wits end. As part of my job as an attorney and human being I try to take a little extra effort when I get the sense someone is in a bad spot. Sometimes it may just take an extended phone conversation, a referral to a source of help or just being concerned about their plight. We can all do this and it is what we all should do. We all are going to find ourselves in times of need for one reason or another, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to reach out.

In personal injury cases, "mental anguish" and "pain and suffering" are elements of damages. Many folks these days scoff at anyone claiming "mental anguish" or "pain and suffering". It's a challenge to convince skeptical jurors, especially in this state, that these are legitimate claims. If you have been involved in a minor injury or accident, it's probably not a good idea to even go there. Serious injuries and death claims should allow a jury to award damages for what are referred to as non-economic damages. It's our client's job, the attorney's job and medical provider's job (if they are empathetic to their patient) to express how an injury or death has impacted the injured.

There are those out there who have vocally expressed disdain at personal injury claims. Many attorneys have had the opportunity to meet with and represent those same people when something happens to them. Their comments invariably are "this is legitimate" and "I'm not the type that sues". I really want to bust them in the chops and convince them that 99.99% of the people that get involved in personal injury claims didn't really ask, invite or want to get run over by that truck, or whatever may have happened to them. Our job as attorneys is to convince jaded jurors and jaded insurance adjusters that pain and suffering and mental anguish merits consideration in the appropriate case.