What is pain and suffering in a personal injury case?

People often hear the phrase “pain and suffering” without really knowing what it means. It is a legal concept used by courts to refer to the physical and mental pain a person experiences after an injury.

Courts will often award damages for this pain, depending on a variety of factors. There are two types of pain and suffering in a personal injury case: physical pain and suffering, and mental pain and suffering.

Physical pain and suffering

Physical pain and suffering involves a person’s physical injuries. A court will determine pain and suffering based on the following:

  • Pain and suffering at the time of the injury
  • Pain and suffering after the injury
  • Pain and suffering in the future because of the injury

For example, a person experiencing aching and throbbing in his or her legs after a car accident might be able to receive damages for physical pain and suffering.

Mental pain and suffering

A person’s mental pain involves any emotions that cause pain and suffering as a result of the injury. Some of these emotions might include anxiety, shock, fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment and emotional distress. Sometimes, these emotions can become worse and lead to depression, trouble sleeping, weight loss, extreme fatigue, changes in mood and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Generally, courts calculate damages for pain and suffering by using a “multiplier.” This multiplier is most often between 1.5 and five. A court will multiple the injured party’s medical expenses and lost earnings by the multiple to determine the pain and suffering award.

Experiencing physical or mental pain and suffering after an injury can be extremely difficult. Many times, pain and suffering can prevent people from returning to work after an injury or performing normal daily activities. It can be beneficial to speak with a personal injury attorney if you have questions about pain and suffering damages or about filing a personal injury lawsuit.