Pain and Suffering: What Is It?

Accidents caused by another person’s negligence often lead to claims for easily quantifiable losses such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. However, personal injury law also allows victims to pursue damages for pain and suffering, representing intangible losses like emotional distress and the reduced enjoyment of life.

If you’ve been hurt in a vehicle crash, our Missouri auto accident lawyers at Cofman Townsley can assess the full scope of damages, ensuring you receive the maximum compensation possible. 

What Is Included in Pain and Suffering Damages?

“Pain and suffering” in a legal context means the physical pain and emotional stress someone goes through because of an injury. Unlike tangible damages such as medical bills and lost wages, which have a clear dollar value, pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages.

These damages are subjective and vary from one individual to another, but can include:

  • Physical Pain: This includes the immediate pain felt at the time of the accident as well as the ongoing discomfort during the recovery and rehabilitation period.
  • Emotional Distress: This covers the mental and psychological effects of an injury and may involve anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health challenges stemming from the traumatic experience of the accident.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: An injury might restrict your participation in activities you previously found enjoyable. This loss of enjoyment is also recognized as a part of pain and suffering.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Permanent scarring or disfigurement can affect your confidence and self-esteem. This can be factored into a pain and suffering settlement to help compensate for the injury’s impact on your overall well-being.
  • Loss of Consortium: An injury can negatively impact your relationships with loved ones, reducing the level of companionship and intimacy in your life.

Documenting and Proving Pain and Suffering

Proving pain and suffering can be challenging because it involves proving your internal, personal experiences. But the knowledgeable lawyers at Cofman Townsley can help you put together the necessary evidence, including:

  • Medical Records: We can use medical records to detail the extent of your injuries and the impact of your injuries on your daily life. This provides objective evidence of pain through diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment plans.
  • Personal Journal: Our attorneys can use your personal journal to document your emotional distress and the day-to-day impact of the injury. We can refer to entries describing your pain, emotional struggles, and limitations to persuade a judge or jury.
  • Expert Testimony: Expert witnesses, such as medical professionals and psychologists, can provide testimony to validate the existence and severity of your pain and suffering. They can also establish the connection between the injury and the emotional distress you experience.
  • Witness Statements: Testimonies from friends, family, or coworkers who have noticed changes in your behavior and mood can help corroborate your pain and suffering.

Calculating Compensation for Pain and Suffering

Quantifying pain and suffering requires placing a monetary value on your internal experiences. Our skilled legal team can use one of two methods for calculating these non-economic damages:

  • Per Diem Method: In the per diem method, your attorney or the insurer establishes a daily or weekly rate to represent the value of your pain and suffering. They multiply the number of days or weeks you are expected to suffer by this rate to get your settlement amount.

For example, if your pain and suffering damages are calculated at a daily rate of $200 and are expected to last for three years, you could receive $219,000 in compensation.

  • Multiplier Method: The multiplier method involves multiplying the total economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) by a number between 1.5 and 5 to determine the appropriate compensation for pain and suffering. Your lawyer can determine the multiplier based on the severity of your injury and its impact on your life. A higher multiplier is used for more severe injuries.

For instance, imagine you win $150,000 in economic damages. You suffered a spinal cord injury that has left you partially paralyzed. Your attorney may use a multiplier of 4, asking for $600,000 in a pain and suffering award.

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Pain and suffering are essential components of personal injury cases, offering compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and other intangible losses. At Cofman Townsley, we understand the complexities involved in these claims. 

If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today for a free consultation to ensure your rights remain protected. We can evaluate your claim, take the proper steps to build your case, and secure compensation for all applicable damages in your situation.