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Pain and Suffering from a Legal Standpoint

“Pain and suffering” is a key component in many personal injury cases. There are two types: physical pain and suffering, and mental pain and suffering. Physical pain and suffering covers not only the ill physical effects that a claimant has suffered to date, but also what they are likely to endure in the future as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Mental pain and suffering can be an offshoot of the claimant’s physical injuries in an accident. It can include anxiety, anger, depression, humiliation, sleep disorders, fear, and loss of enjoyment of life, among other negative effects, but it can also include PTSD type symptoms, particularly if the event was significant.  Mental pain and suffering can be much worse than physical as most physical injuries heal at some point but mental may linger.

Calculating compensation for pain and suffering is an imprecise task; there are generally no set guidelines. In most states, judges simply instruct the jury to utilize good common sense and to draw upon their individual backgrounds and experiences to arrive at a fair and reasonable figure.

In some cases, another component to a pain and suffering calculation is the use of a “multiplier.” It involves a victim’s total medical bills and lost earnings (past and future) and multiplies that figure anywhere from 1.5 to 5 times or more, depending on the type and severity of the injury.  But another multiplier may be the length of time the injuries linger, with permanent injuries, say for a lifetime.

The value of a pain and suffering case can also be influenced by a plaintiff’s credibility on the witness stand, likeability, consistency in testimony, and physician support of the plaintiff’s claims. If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney to safeguard your rights.