What is Pain and Suffering?
Published on:May 24, 2018


When you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney might discuss compensatory damages with you. These types of damages allow you to be compensated for non-financial elements such as mental or physical anguish. The most common term applied to compensatory damages is pain and suffering, and it is not as easy to include in a claim as you may think.

Financial Vs. Non-Financial Awards

Financial awards are those that you can calculate using real numbers. These include:

  • Property damage (the damage done to your car in a car accident)
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills resulting from the incident

In just about every state, these financial damages are considered a standard part of any personal injury claim. The non-financial awards are those that have to be quantified by the court because there are no real numbers attached to them. These include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of spousal services (loss of intimacy)
  • Loss of parental services

Pain and suffering deals with the immediate and long term physical pain and emotional anguish that comes from a personal injury accident.

Calculating Pain And Suffering

In the states that allow pain and suffering to be part of a civil court claim, there is usually a number applied to the pain and suffering to calculate the amount. For example, if the court decides that the pain and suffering is at level four, then the court will multiply the financial losses by four to get the pain and suffering amount. It is never an exact science, and most attorneys will include large pain and suffering claims in anticipation of their claims being reduced.

Court Rulings And Settlements

In the states where pain and suffering is considered part of a personal injury claim, the amount of pain and suffering can be determined many different ways. Many insurance companies include pain and suffering in their initial settlement offers in anticipation of the plaintiff asking for compensatory damages.

When civil courts award pain and suffering, they will usually do so as a separate part of the award. If there were $10,000.00 in financial losses, then the court might decide the case is a three for pain and suffering and make a separate award of $30,000.00. During settlement negotiations, lawyers and insurance companies are always careful to keep financial and non-financial awards separate. They do this to make sure that the straightforward financial awards are properly calculated and accounted for.

Selling It To The Court

While there is no concrete method for calculating pain and suffering, civil courts will want to see evidence before making a determination. Plaintiffs will hire psychiatrists, specialists, and other types of medical experts to prove that they are suffering from a quantifiable amount of pain and suffering.

In a personal injury case, it is common for the plaintiff to demand compensation for the mental and physical anguish they have been put through as a result of the accident. In most courts, pain and suffering is treated as a completely separate part of a claim and it is up to the plaintiff to prove that they are experience pain and suffering that is worth compensation.