Damages for Pain and Suffering

Personal Injury Lawyer

Following an injury due to someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Calculating direct financial loss is straightforward, but assigning a value for pain and suffering requires specific evidence.

Pain and suffering are the most difficult aspects of injury to quantify. The magnitude of pain can vary from person to person, and it is hard for a doctor or lawyer to put an accurate price tag on how much one individual should be compensated for their injuries. A personal injury lawyer will work with you to figure out what your medical expenses have been, how much time off work you had, lost wages due to your disability, missed opportunities because of your injuries – all these factors are important when figuring out damages for pain and suffering.

What Constitutes Pain and Suffering?

Under the law, the following may determine the pain and suffering damages someone may receive following an injury:

  • A short or long-term inability to engage in normal pre-injury activities
  • Mental or emotional distress 
  • Physical deformity or disfigurement
  • Significant physical impairment

It is significant to understand the difference between pain and suffering. Pain refers to physical injury, while suffering can refer to emotional, mental or psychological damage. It’s not always easy for an injured party to know what damages are being sought in a personal injury case that they have been involved in, but it is wise for them to consult with a lawyer who may be able to help determine these damages before filing suit.

How Can Someone Prove Pain and Suffering?

A personal injury lawyer will use various forms of evidence to prove their clients’ pain and suffering. To start, they gather medical records that document the extent of an injury. These records may include a description of the medical issues, recommended treatment plan, and prognosis. Then, in a trial setting, a lawyer may rely upon the testimony of expert medical witnesses who can discuss and explain an injury and offer an opinion about possible ways it can affect someone.

The testimony of other parties is also helpful in proving pain and suffering. For example, a therapist can discuss a patient’s struggles with anxiety, depression, or heightened stress levels following an injury. Medical prescriptions that address these issues are also valid evidence. 

Friends and family can provide valuable insight into the struggles someone endures following an injury. They can compare the injured party’s pre-accident lifestyle and demeanor with how they differ following an injury.

Finally, the testimony of the injured person can go a long way toward proving pain and suffering. A first-hand description of the consequences of an injury can significantly impact a jury tasked with assigning pain and suffering damages. A personal injury lawyer may advise their clients to maintain a journal to track their daily pain levels and struggles resulting from their injuries. 

What Determines Pain and Suffering Awards?

Unlike damages for monetary losses, pain and suffering compensation is subjective. Therefore, judges, juries, and insurance providers consider all the evidence before making a final calculation using one of two methods.

The multiplier method involves multiplying the monetary or specific damages by a number between one and five to arrive at a value for pain and suffering. The type and severity of the injury determine the multiplier number.  

The second method assigns a monetary value to every day from when an injury occurs to when medical professionals determine someone achieves maximum possible improvement. The injured party’s most recent salary determines the daily rate for this calculation.