Personal Injury Cases – Understanding Pain and Suffering

“Pain and suffering” are common in the aftermath of sustaining an accident-related injury. Many people know nothing or very little about how it functions as a key component in determining the damages. For many, it is a concept related to physical feeling or mental condition. Can it be discussed from a legal perspective? Most importantly, how can pain and suffering be calculated for making an injury-related compensation claim?

What is “Pain and Suffering”?

Any Rochester personal injury lawyer will tell you that pain and suffering can be broadly categorized under two heads as follows:

Physical Pain and Suffering: It is related to the plaintiff’s physical injury. It includes physical pain and discomfort that the plaintiff has suffered till date as well as the harmful effects that the injured is likely to endure in future due to the defendant’s negligence.

Mental Pain and Suffering: It is a by-product of the plaintiff’s physical injury. Mental pain and suffering are invisible but eat the claimant from within. It may include emotional distress, mental agony, anger, fear, humiliation, shock and anxiety and inability to enjoy life.

In other words, mental pain and suffering can be any type of negative emotion that an injured endures as a result of having to bear with the physical trauma and pain after the accident. Very considerable amount of mental pain and suffering usually includes anger, anxiety, depression, lack of energy, loss of appetite, mood swings, sleep disturbances and sexual dysfunction. Mental pain and suffering, if untreated, may even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, which is a critical condition.

Both physical and mental pain and suffering include not only the effects that the accident-related injury victim has suffered till date but also what the injured is likely to endure in future.

How to Quantify Pain and Suffering

In a personal injury lawsuit, judges give injuries not much in the way of guidance for quantifying pain and suffering. The juries don’t have any chart to follow in order to figure out what an injury is actually worth and award the victim accordingly. In most states across the USA, the juries receive instruction from judges to apply sanity and senses, experience and background to decide what will count as a fair and reasonable amount to make good for the complaint’s pain and suffering.


Have you heard about a “multiplier”? It is extensively used to figure out what it will be like a just amount of compensation in personal injury cases by putting a dollar figure on pain and suffering through a simple calculation that involves multiplying the victim’s medical bills and lost income (also referred to as the plaintiff’s special damages).

What will be the actual figure of the “multiplier”? It could be anything between 1.5 and 4. However, the concept of ‘multiplier’ leads to a very difficult estimate and never applies to all personal injury cases. The concept is extremely useful in minor personal injury cases where the total damages don’t cross beyond $50,000. However, even if the injury is minor, you should be extremely careful about using the concept in determining the worth of your case.