Pain and Suffering Explained

An integral part of many personal injury cases, pain and suffering refers to a the mental and/or physical aftermath that a victim must cope with after an accident. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the injuries that were sustained, some victims are able to seek damages for pain and suffering as a part of their personal injury case.  

Pain and suffering can be mental or physical. Physical pain and suffering refers to the physical injuries of the plaintiff and the associated pain and discomfort that have been sustained and that can be expected in the future.

Mental pain and suffering umbrella term that refers to any type of negative emotion that results from the physical suffering of the incident. Often, mental pain and suffering is side effect of bodily injuries, such as emotional stress, fear, anxiety, shock or even loss of enjoyment of life. In severe cases, it can result in depression, sexual dysfunction, loss of appetite, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Also takes into account mental pain that the plaintiff will suffer in the future.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Placing a monetary value on pain and suffering is very difficult, as neither pain nor suffering are visible or easy to prove. A number of factors are taken into consideration in order to determine an amount of compensation that is reasonable and fair to both parties. In some cases involving small damages of $50,000 or less a “multiplier” is used to provide a rough estimate. The multiplier calculates the plaintiff’s total bills and lost wages (otherwise known as special damages) and multiplies them on a scale of 1.5 to 4. The more the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, the higher the “score” on the multiplier scale. The result is simply an estimate that can aid in determining a settlement amount. 

Other factors, such as the likability and credibility of the plaintiff, the consistency of the testimony of the plaintiff and physician as well as the diagnosis of injuries as they relate to the type of accident, also play a role in determining compensation for pain and suffering.