Purpose. The purpose of the present study is to determine whether making multiple damage awards influenced civil mock jurors' assessments of those damage awards. Specifically, how does making one decision for pain and suffering damage awards versus two decisions (one for mental pain and suffering and physical pain and suffering) versus four decisions (one for loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, disfigurement, and physical disability/impairment) influence overall non-economic damage awards.
Methods. One hundred twenty undergraduates from a psychology participant pool read a case vignette that included information regarding four types of injuries that the plaintiff endured: loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, disfigurement, and physical disability/impairment. Participants were randomly assigned to render either one award for pain and suffering, two awards (one for physical pain and suffering and one for mental pain and suffering), or four awards (one for each pain and suffering element).
Results. Results indicated that participants who rendered four awards provided significantly higher overall non-economic damage awards than participants who provided one overall award. The variability of damage awards also increased as the number of damage awards increased.
Conclusions. Itemizing non-economic damage awards into distinct injury categories can lead to an increase in overall non-economic awards. Members of the legal arena should be cautioned against itemizing damages to prevent variability in non-economic awards.