What Is Pain and Suffering?

pain and suffering
Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham Blog January 17, 2022

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Personal injury victims can suffer in many ways after an accident. Whether claimants file an injury claim with an insurance company or pursue compensation directly through a lawsuit, claimants are often entitled to financial restitution for their covered losses (also called damages). Damages include the economic setbacks caused by an injury—property damage, medical bills, lost wages, reduced earning power—but they can also include non-economic damages like pain and suffering

To collect pain and suffering damages as part of your personal injury settlement, you’ll need a thorough understanding of what it includes and how insurance companies, lawyers, and judges calculate its value. Find out more about obtaining compensation for pain and suffering from the Quad Cities personal injury lawyers at Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham. 

What Is Considered Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to physical discomfort and emotional or psychological suffering inflicted on a person. Pain and suffering has a broad definition that may encapsulate a wide range of experiences. Common examples of pain and suffering are listed below.

Physical Pain and Suffering

  • Pain and discomfort at the time of the accident
  • Pain and discomfort during recovery/rehabilitation
  • Chronic or lifelong pain and discomfort
  • Disability
  • Persistent headaches, stomachaches, or body aches
  • Nerve damage or paralysis
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Low energy
  • Sexual dysfunction

Emotional Pain and Suffering

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Decreased cognitive ability
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Embarrassment and/or humiliation
  • Inconvenience
  • Insomnia
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Note: In cases of wrongful death, family members of the deceased may be able to obtain compensation for their own emotional pain and suffering. 

Do All Personal Injury Cases Include Pain and Suffering?

If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, there’s a good chance your personal injury claim may include compensation for pain and suffering. At Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham, our attorneys have secured pain and suffering settlements on behalf of clients we’ve represented in the following personal injury cases:

How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Lawsuit?

Although it can be time-consuming, calculating how much your economic damages are worth in a personal injury lawsuit is pretty straightforward. But trying to put a price point on someone’s physical and/or emotional pain and suffering is a lot more complicated. 

Related: How Much is My Car Accident Claim Worth?

How insurance companies calculate the value of an injured claimant’s pain and suffering varies, and many have their own undisclosed formula. Whatever the case, you can be sure that insurance companies will offer you the lowest possible settlement they think you’ll accept (if they don’t deny your claim outright). On the other hand, lawyers generally take a more streamlined approach to calculating the actual value of a client’s pain and suffering. Most lawyers will use one of two methods: the multiplier method or the per diem method. 

With the multiplier method, pain and suffering directly correlate to economic losses. An attorney calculates this amount by multiplying the value of your economic damages by a number between one and five—the more severe the nature of your physical or emotional pain and suffering, the higher the number. 

The per diem method affixes a value to the amount of your pain and suffering per day and multiplies that number by the number of days it took (or will take) for you to make a full recovery. In both cases, a qualified attorney will make educated estimates based on the severity of your injuries, the length of your physical and psychological recovery, the impact of your pain and suffering on your daily life, and the aggravation of any pre-existing conditions.

How Can You Prove Pain and Suffering?

If there’s one thing you need in a personal injury case, it’s proof: proof of fault and proof of the damages you suffered. Unfortunately, proving your economic losses can require a lot of documentation—copies of medical bills, hospital records, paystubs, automotive valuations, etc. Gathering and organizing all of these documents can be a challenge, albeit a doable one with the help of an injury attorney.

Unfortunately, pain and suffering isn’t always so well-documented by the same third parties who send you hospital bills, sign your paycheck, or appraise the damage to your car. In many cases, you’ll need additional proof to support your claim. That’s not to say that things like medical records aren’t important to prove your pain and suffering. They are, in fact, a crucial piece of the puzzle. But the types of medical records you include and the level of documentation kept by your treating physicians will make all the difference to a judge or jury.

For example, continuing to attend follow-up appointments after an injury will leave a verifiable record of treatment, which helps your case. But you also need to make sure you’re clearly communicating any ongoing symptoms and lingering pain with your doctor and that your doctor is documenting your recovery (or lack thereof) in your chart. Photographs or medical imaging of your injuries are another concrete way that may help illustrate the extent of your physical pain and suffering. 

If you have suffered from emotional or psychological pain since your injury, it’s crucial that you seek a diagnosis from a trained mental health professional and continue receiving treatment— whether in the form of therapy, medication, or both—for as long as you need it. You may also consider keeping a detailed journal after an injury to log the progression of your physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

Some states put a cap on how much money injured claimants can obtain for pain and suffering. Luckily, most personal injury victims in Iowa or Illinois aren’t subject to these kinds of limitations. That being said, if you want to maximize your settlement for pain and suffering, you’ll likely require the experience and knowledge of a qualified attorney. 

Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham has served the Quad Cities for more than 50 years. Our legal team has 120 years of combined experience representing clients, many of whom have been injured by another party’s negligence. To request a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at (309) 794-1515. You can also get in touch with us online via LiveChat or fill out this form

Our team is also available for home and hospital visits, in addition to evening and weekend appointments. Should you decide to work with us, we charge no fees unless we make a financial recovery on your behalf. 

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.