What is ‘Pain and Suffering’ mean in a Personal Injury Case?


Many people may not know about the definition of “pain and suffering” in the context of personal injury law. Another important point is how pain and suffering it is calculated for the damages in a claim.

The two types of pain and suffering are physical and mental.

Physical pain and suffering is the actual pain of physical injuries. It includes the pain and discomfort the plaintiff has endured as well as the detrimental effects they will suffer in the future due to the injury.

Mental pain and suffering results from the physical injuries and includes things like mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of live, feat, anxiety and more. Mental pain and suffering is the negative emotion an accident victim suffers from enduring the physical pain and trauma of the accident.

Significant mental pain and suffering may also include depression, lack of energy, mood swings and sleep disturbances. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an even more severe type of mental pain and suffering.

Now that we answered what is pain and suffering, you may be wondering how to calculate it. There is no strict guidelines for determining the value of pain and suffering so juries are instructed to use their good sense, background, instinct and experience to determine a fair and reasonable figure to compensate for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.

The “multiplier” is used in personal injury cases where the pain and suffering is calculated as being worth some multiplier of the injured persons special damages. Many times the multiplier is between 1.5 and 4, meaning the pain and suffering is 1.5 to 4 times the value of the special damages. The multiplier does not work in all injury cases but it most useful when the total damages are less than $50,000.

Below is a list of factors that affect the value of the pain and suffering in personal injuries case:

  • Whether the plaintiff is or will be a good or bad witness
  • Whether the plaintiff is likeable
  • Whether the plaintiff is credible
  • Whether the plaintiff’s testimony regarding his or her injuries is consistent
  • Whether the plaintiff is exaggerating his or her claims of pain and suffering
  • Whether the plaintiff’s physicians support the plaintiff’s claim of pain and suffering
  • Whether the jury thinks the plaintiff lied about anything
  • Whether the plaintiff’s diagnosis, injuries and claims make common sense to the jury
  • Whether the plaintiff has a criminal record