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What is “Pain & Suffering” in Personal Injury Cases?


You’ve probably heard the term “pain & suffering” thrown around in personal injury case settlements. It’s one of those vague terms that may seem like legal jargon for “getting more money,” but it’s actually much more complicated than that. So, what determines “pain and suffering? Here are some of the basics:

Pain and suffering is legal terminology that refers to any type of injury that a plaintiff may suffer as a result of an accident. It’s important to keep in mind that pain and suffering includes more than simply physical pain. It can also include emotional and mental injuries such as fear, post-traumatic stress, grief, worry, trouble sleeping, overall inconvenience, and even loss of enjoyment in life. The types of injuries either fall under two different types of damages — economic losses, or non-economic losses. 

Economic Losses: Include monetary damages that are easily calculable like:

  1. Cost of Medical bills
  2. Cost of Lost wages
  3. Cost of property damage

Non-Economic Losses: These damages, also called “Pain and suffering,” are not readily measurable, and can include:

  1. Physical pain (bodily injury that is temporary or permanent)
  2. Physical disability (Paralysis, Spinal Injury)
  3. Mental anguish (Anxiety, PTSD)
  4. Loss of a family member
  5. Loss of job/career

In almost every personal injury case, the plaintiff should be able to recover an amount for pain and suffering damages through a personal injury compensation claim. That amount, however, can vary considerably depending on what can be proven through medical tests, expert witness testimony, and a future prognosis. Figures for two nearly identical pain and suffering cases can range from insignificantly small to hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite both plaintiffs sustaining similar injuries. In other words, there is no exact science to calculating pain and suffering, and it can often depend on your attorney’s ability to make an argument on your behalf, whether the judge presiding over your case is sympathetic to your situation, and if your case is taken to trial before a jury.”


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