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How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

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How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury claims are intricate legal processes that seek compensation for pain and suffering for those who have suffered harm due to the negligence of another party. Numerous studies show that around 75% of personal injury settlements involve compensation for pain and suffering.

One of the most complex components of these claims is the calculation of compensatory damages for pain and suffering. Unlike economic damages, such as medical expenses or lost wages, pain and suffering damages are non-economic and inherently subjective.

This blog aims to explain how pain and suffering damages are calculated, the factors influencing these calculations, and the evidence required to substantiate these claims.

Contact us today for a free consultation with our expert personal injury lawyers. We’ll fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.

What are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering damages refer to the non-economic compensation awarded to an injured person for the physical pain and emotional distress they endure due to an injury. This encompasses:

  • Physical Pain: Ongoing physical discomfort and pain resulting from the injury. This can include chronic pain, temporary acute pain, and discomfort from treatments and rehabilitation.
  • Emotional Distress: Psychological impacts such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and emotional trauma. Emotional distress also includes feelings of humiliation, indignity, and shock caused by the accident and its aftermath.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: Inability to participate in hobbies and activities enjoyed before the injury. This can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life and their ability to find joy in daily activities.
  • Loss of Consortium: Detrimental impact on the injured person’s relationships with family members or a spouse, including the loss of companionship, affection, and sexual relations.

These damages for pain and suffering are inherently subjective, making their quantification challenging. However, they are crucial for fully compensating the accident victim for all the ways the injury has impacted their life.

Types of Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering generally fall into two main categories: physical and mental anguish, each with its own specific subcategories.

Physical Pain and Suffering

Physical pain and suffering refer to the pain in your body due to the injury, which can be temporary or chronic. Examples include:

  • Neck and Back Pain: Chronic pain from spinal injuries, which can severely limit mobility and cause ongoing discomfort.
  • Broken Bones: Pain from fractures that may require surgeries, casts, and prolonged rehabilitation.
  • Headaches: Persistent headaches resulting from head injuries, which can interfere with daily activities and work.
  • Muscle Pain: Ongoing muscle pain and spasms that may require physical therapy and pain management strategies.

Mental Pain and Suffering

Mental pain and suffering include the emotional and psychological effects of an injury, like:

  • Cognitive Changes: Resulting from brain injuries, which can affect memory, concentration, and cognitive functions.
  • Psychological Trauma: Including PTSD and anxiety, which can result from the traumatic nature of the accident and its aftermath.
  • Emotional Distress: Forms include depression, grief, and reduced quality of life. Emotional pain also includes loss of enjoyment, where individuals can no longer participate in activities they once loved.

Any negative emotions directly attributed to the accident can be considered mental pain and suffering.

Specific Categories of Pain and Suffering

Beyond general physical and mental pain, specific categories can further detail the types of suffering a claimant might experience:

  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the inability to engage in activities once enjoyed.
  • Physical Impairment: Damages for limitations on movement or daily living activities.
  • Disfigurement: Compensation for permanent changes to physical appearance, such as scarring.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Reduction in the ability to enjoy life due to injuries.
  • Fright, Shock, and Anger: Compensation for extreme fear, psychological shock, or persistent anger caused by the incident.
  • Indignity and Mortification: Damages for humiliation or extreme embarrassment following the incident.
  • Nervousness and Embarrassment: Compensation for unnatural nervousness or embarrassment caused by the injury.
  • Apprehension and Terror: Damages for ongoing fear or terror resulting from the accident.
  • Grief and Inconvenience: Compensation for deep sorrow or disruption to daily life.
  • Ordeal and Depression: Damages for long-term traumatic experiences and psychological impacts like depression.
  • Humiliation and Damage to Reputation: Compensation for loss of dignity or harm to reputation.
  • Loss of Companionship: Damages for the loss of marital or parental relationships.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Compensation for changes in sexual function due to the injury.

Proving Pain and Suffering

To successfully claim pain and suffering compensation, you must provide substantial documentation and evidence to support your case. The following types of evidence are critical:

non-economic damages
calculate damages for pain and suffering

Medical Documentation

  • Medical Records: Comprehensive documentation of all visits to healthcare professionals, including mental health therapists, is essential. These records should detail diagnoses, treatment plans, and the ongoing impact of the injuries.
  • Expert Opinions: Written opinions or notes from both physical and mental health professionals detailing the extent and nature of your condition and its long-term impact on your life. These expert professionals can establish the link between the injury caused and the pain and suffering experienced.
  • Medications: A detailed list of all prescribed medications, including those for ongoing physical and mental pain. This includes painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and any other medication necessary for managing symptoms.
  • Permanent Conditions: Documentation of any permanent, life-threatening, or disabling conditions resulting from the injury. This could include reports from specialists indicating long-term prognosis and necessary ongoing care.

Personal Documentation

  • Daily Journals: Personal diaries documenting daily pain levels, emotional state, and how the injury impacts daily activities. This can provide a day-to-day account of the suffering endured.
  • Witness Testimonies: Statements from friends and family members describing how the injury affects your daily life and their observations of your pain and suffering. These testimonies can provide a personal perspective on the changes seen in the victim.

Expert Testimonies

  • Medical Witnesses: Approximately 25% of claims for pain and suffering need expert testimony to validate non-economic damages. Testimonies from neutral third-party expert medical witnesses who can validate the severity and impact of your injuries. These witnesses can offer unbiased, professional opinions on the extent of your pain and suffering.

Such comprehensive evidence can significantly influence the decision of an insurance company, judge, or jury by illustrating the genuine emotional pain and suffering endured.

Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

There are two most popular methods of calculating pain and suffering damages: the multiplier method and the per diem method. Each has its limitations.

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method involves multiplying the total economic damages by a number, usually between 1.5 and 5, to estimate pain and suffering damages. The multiplier is utilized based on the severity of the injury and its impact on the claimant’s daily life. For example, if economic damages amount to $50,000 and the chosen multiplier is 3, the pain and suffering damages would be $150,000.


  • Subjectivity: The selection of the multiplier can be highly subjective and varies widely from case to case.
  • Oversimplification: It may oversimplify the complexity of the pain and suffering experienced.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method assigns a daily rate to the pain and suffering experienced and then multiplies this rate by the number of days the claimant has suffered. For example, if the daily rate is $200 and the victim experiences pain and suffering for 300 days, the total compensation would amount to $60,000.


  • Daily Rate Determination: Establishing a fair daily rate can be challenging and subjective.
  • Not Suitable for Long-Term Suffering: It might not adequately capture long-term or permanent suffering.

What Is a Pain and Suffering Calculator?

A pain and suffering calculator is an online tool designed to estimate the value of pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases. It typically uses factors such as the type of bodily injury, severity, recovery time, and economic damages to provide an estimate. However, these calculators have significant disadvantages.

Pain and suffering calculators often oversimplify the complexities of individual cases and cannot account for unique personal circumstances and the nuanced nature of pain and suffering. Additionally, they may not consider specific legal nuances that a personal injury lawyer would understand. 

Given these limitations, it is advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney who can provide a more accurate and personalized assessment of pain and suffering damages.

Pain and Suffering Lawsuits and Settlements

According to the World Metrics Report 2024, the average settlement amount awarded for pain and suffering in personal injury lawsuits typically falls between $15,000 and $20,000. When suing for pain and suffering, it is essential to understand that every pain and suffering lawsuit is unique. Courts consider various factors when determining pain and suffering damages. Key considerations include:

  • Severity of the Injury: More severe injuries typically result in higher pain and suffering compensation.
  • Impact on Daily Life: The degree to which the injury disrupts the claimant’s daily activities and quality of life.
  • Duration of Suffering: Longer recovery times and ongoing pain generally warrant higher damages for pain and suffering.
  • Evidentiary Support: Strong, documented evidence can significantly influence the outcome of pain and suffering lawsuits.

State Caps on Non-Economic Damages

Pain and suffering awards can vary significantly depending on the state in which the claim is filed. Some states have caps on non-economic damages, which can limit the amount awarded for a pain and suffering claim.

State-Specific Caps

  • Indiana: The cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is $1.8 million as of 2019. 
  • Illinois: Illinois does not have a cap on non-economic damages for personal injury cases.
  • Missouri: In medical malpractice cases, the cap for non-economic damages is set at $400,000, increasing to $700,000 for catastrophic injuries.
  • Wisconsin: Wisconsin has a cap of $750,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. 
  • California: In California, there are no caps on pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases. Settlements in this state can reach substantial amounts.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits

The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits varies by state, defining the period within which you must file a claim after an injury occurs. 

For example, in California, Illinois, and Florida, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of injury, while in Wisconsin, it is 3 years from the date of injury. It is crucial to file within the statute of limitations to preserve your right to compensation. 

Maximizing Pain and Suffering Damages

Settlements for car accidents that include pain and suffering can vary widely, but they typically average around $30,000. To maximize compensation for pain and suffering, it is essential to present a robust personal injury case with ample evidence. This includes:

  • Detailed Medical Records: Comprehensive documentation of all medical treatments and ongoing care, including detailed notes on diagnoses, treatment plans, and future medical needs.
  • Expert Testimonies: Statements from medical professionals and mental health experts who can provide detailed insights into the severity of your injuries and their impact on your life.
  • Personal Documentation: Daily journals documenting pain levels, emotional distress, and limitations on daily activities, providing a clear picture of your suffering.
  • Photographs and Videos: Visual evidence of injuries and their impact, such as photos of surgical scars, mobility aids, and videos demonstrating limited physical capabilities.
  • Family and Friends Testimonies: Statements describing the claimant’s changes and challenges post-accident, highlighting the personal and emotional toll of the injury.

Engaging an experienced personal injury attorney can greatly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation. Legal professionals can navigate the complexities of personal injury claims, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent claimants effectively in court.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Recover Pain and Suffering Damages

A personal injury attorney plays a crucial role in recovering pain and suffering compensation. A report by Martindale-Nolo Research revealed that claimants with legal representation on average 3.5 times higher compensation than those without lawyers. Here are some useful ways personal injury attorneys can help victims recover compensation:

  • Expert Evaluation: Attorneys can evaluate the full extent of your injuries and suffering, ensuring all relevant factors are considered.
  • Evidence Gathering: They can collect comprehensive evidence, including medical bills, expert testimonies, and personal documentation, to build a strong case.
  • Negotiation Skills: Experienced attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies to maximize your compensation, leveraging their knowledge of similar cases and legal precedents.
  • Legal Representation: If necessary, they can represent you in court, presenting a compelling personal injury case to the judge or jury to secure a fair award.
  • Navigating Legal Complexities: They understand the intricacies of personal injury law and can guide you through the legal process, ensuring compliance with all procedural requirements.

Engaging a personal injury attorney significantly increases the likelihood of receiving fair compensation for pain and suffering.


Calculating pain and suffering damages in a personal injury claim is a multifaceted process influenced by numerous factors, including the severity of the injury, duration of recovery, impact on daily life, and geographic location. Both the multiplier and per diem methods provide structured approaches to estimate these damages, but the final amounts can vary widely based on individual case specifics and evidentiary support.

Understanding the types of pain and suffering, the legal considerations, and the importance of comprehensive evidence is crucial for claimants seeking fair compensation. By meticulously documenting their pain and suffering and engaging skilled legal representation, claimants can enhance their chances of receiving the compensation they deserve for the physical injuries and emotional turmoil they have endured.

If you have experienced pain and suffering from a personal injury case, the Injury Lawyer Team will help you seek fair compensation. Call (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyers. 


How much is the average settlement amount for a pain and suffering claim?

The average settlement amount for pain and suffering can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars depending on the severity of the injury, the emotional distress, and the specifics of the incident.

Is emotional distress a part of pain and suffering damages?

Yes, emotional distress is a significant part of pain and suffering, and is often calculated through psychiatric evaluations.

How do insurance companies measure pain and suffering in a personal injury case?

Insurance companies calculate pain and suffering damages in injury cases by using a multiplier method, per diem approach, or a software program called “Colossus”.

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