What Is Pain and Suffering “Defined As After a Car Accident?”


If you or a loved one have recently been involved in a car accident and suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you’re likely to have filed or are going to file a personal injury claim.

What Is “Pain & Suffering”?

Many people understand that medical costs include hospital bills, medications, lab work, etc. Lost wages compensate for the time you’ve missed supplying income due to a recent injury. But when it comes to “pain and suffering”, it’s not uncommon for victims to be unsure of what it really entails.

According to the DMV, “pain and suffering” is defined as stress experienced as a result of injury, including physical, emotional and psychological trauma. This means an injury can include anything from a broken limb, to anxiety or insomnia. Here are some examples of physical vs. emotional/psychological pain:

Physical Pain and Suffering:

  • Pain and discomfort from physical injuries caused by the accident (i.e. broken arm, whiplash, a herniated disc, etc.)
  • Future pain and discomfort that will come as a result of these injuries (i.e. disc damage, tendon/ligament/connective tissue tears, chronic neck pain, etc.)

Mental Pain and Suffering:

  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Insomnia and loss of appetite
  • Anger and humiliation
  • Fear and PTSD
  • Mood swings
  • And more

How Can I Prove My Pain and Suffering?

  • A personal testimony that describes your injury, pain, the effects its had on day-to-day life, current and future medical expenses, etc.
  • Photos, videos or other personal records of personal damages
  • Documentation by a medical professional for any physical or mental health services provided
  • Proof that the plaintiff’s well-being has changed significantly due to the incident
  • Statements from expert witnesses or medical experts

How Can I Calculate My Pain and Suffering?

Although insurance companies have no obligation to use a cookie-cutter way of calculating the cost of a plaintiff’s pain and suffering, there are two main methods that many attorneys use to find an appropriate estimate.

Method 1: 

Multiply the plaintiff’s total cost of medical bills and lost wages by a number (typically between 1 and 5), depending on the severity of the injury (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest).

An example of this would be $5,000 (medical bills caused by a herniated disc) x 3 (severity of the injury) = $15,000 (the amount estimated for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering).

Unsure of what number to multiply by? Use this helpful tool to determine your multiplier.

Method 2:

Another method is a per diem approach, in which a specified amount (let’s say $500) is given to the plaintiff daily until he/she has received the maximum amount of recovery money.

Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?

If you’ve suffered an injury or pain and suffering, we know how overwhelming it can be to try to calculate your pain and suffering, while also dealing with physical, emotional and psychological damages. Our personal injury attorneys are here for you. Our team will step in and help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for more information.

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