Most people have heard of “pain and suffering,” but few who are not attorneys understand the legal definition and the impact on a personal injury claim. Have you wondered what pain and suffering is and what it means to a lawsuit? You’re in luck — we’re about to tell you! Before we do, please understand there are many factors that affect a personal injury claim, so it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Kinds of Pain and Suffering

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental pain and suffering

First, there is physical pain and suffering resulting from your injury. This is not just the suffering experienced to date, but also the detrimental effects which can be projected in your future.

There are numerous mental conditions that would qualify as mental pain and suffering if a result of the injury or trauma of a negligent accident. Mental pain and suffering can include conditions like emotional distress, shock, anxiety and the loss of enjoyment of life. Extreme examples of mental pain and suffering can include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual dysfunction, depression, lack of appetite and trouble sleeping.

Both kinds of pain and suffering address the negative effects you’ve experienced to date, as well as those expected in the future. A recovery for both is imperative to ensure your settlement will be sufficient to pay all your medical treatment needs during what could prove to be a long road to recovery.

Example of Pain and Suffering

Imagine you are severely injured in a car accident. You have suffered numerous broken bones, facial lacerations, and a concussion. Following treatment for your physical injuries, you begin to experience a loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. You also begin to feel exceedingly self-conscious in public, as well as at work, due to the scars resulting from your facial lacerations. You seek treatment from a psychologist, who determines that these conditions are related to your accident.  These conditions would then be included as pain and suffering in your lawsuit.

How to Calculate Pain And Suffering

There is not a universal equation to calculate pain and suffering, but insurance companies are known to use a “multiplier” as a starting point. This may range from 1 to 5 times your economic losses, which are your quantifiable loss like medical expense and lost wages.

Documenting the extent of your injuries and the prognosis for your recovery are important factors. These claims are often settled out of court, which means your attorney’s negotiation skills better be good! Should your case go to trial, the jury is offered little guidance from the judge on how to calculate these financial amounts. As a result, you’ll need an attorney who can negotiate a sufficient settlement and who can take your case to trial should the insurance companies prove unwilling to properly compensate you; therefore, prior to hiring an attorney we recommend you ask about their trial experience and their plan should going to trial be necessary.

You may hear legal terms including comparative negligence and contributory negligence. The majority of states are comparative negligence states. In those states, your settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will advise you further based on the proper jurisdiction for your claim.

If you’ve been injured and have mounting medical bills, we want to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’ll explain your rights and propose a path forward should you want our help.