How to Calculate Pain and Suffering

By Chris Dixon


Pain and suffering is considered general damages, or reimbursement outside of straight up expenses like medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, or property damage. You’re eligible to receive damages for out-of-pocket expenses such as gas money and child care; however, pain and suffering is a bit more complicated.

If you file a claim against an insurance company, or take them to court with an official personal injury claim, their job is to pay nothing or, at least, pay you as little reimbursement as possible. Should you add pain and suffering to your claim, it needs to be both justified and reasonable. In this section of the FAQ, the St. Louis personal injury lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm dive into the various arguments behind pain and suffering in reimbursement disputes.

What is “Pain and Suffering?”

Pain and Suffering includes not only physical pain, such as a herniated disc, but emotional distress and suffering. Pain and suffering includes a wide variety of symptoms and side-effects. Here are a few examples:

  • Depression or prolonged grief after the wrongful death of a spouse or family member.
  • Anxiety from chronic pain, cognitive disabilities, loss of physical functionallity such as not being to participate in a hobby or sport.
  • PTSD after an incident that impacts a victim’s ability to work or cope with certain situations.

As you can see, pain and suffering has a broad range. When making a claim, or while writing a demand letter, it’s important to factor in general damages like loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, and other, seemingly more “vague” consequences of a defendant’s negligence.

Factors That Influence “Pain and Suffering”

As we’ve mentioned before, there are several different ways to calculate pain and suffering. Here are the basics:

  • Type of Injury: If, for instance, you suffered brain damage or lost a limb, insurers are more likely to accept a higher settlement. Why? Because, if the claim were to go to trial as a personal injury case, the plaintiff would have a big advantage over a judge or jury. These types of injuries are for life and that should be reflected in your claim.
  • Duration: Like with a loss of limb or permanent damage, scarring, or burns, the amount of time you have to endure an injury absolutely impacts how much you can claim for pain and suffering. If you’re a construction foreman, and you lost the use of your legs, you can claim pain and suffering as well as loss of career potential.
  • Documentation: One of the best ways to make a reasonable pain and suffering claim is to carefully document everything. Keep a journal, describe how your life is affected by an injury, and estimate how much the accident will cost you in the long run (therapy, counseling, rehabilitation, etc.).

Different states and courts will consider pain and suffering differently. It’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you’re an injured victim. An experienced lawyer will know how to handle large insurers, counteroffers, and how to win if your injury claim goes to court.

What Are “Special” and “General” Damages?

When you make a claim, you’re going to have to justify financial loss in addition to negligence. Special Damages refer to medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other tangible implications of the injury. These have a paper trail and are provable. Insurance companies will try and settle only special damages if the negligence is clear.

The General Damages we’ve mentioned before are a little more vague. Loss of enjoyment, loss of a loved one, loss of consortium (current and prospective sex life) are all taken into consideration. “Pain and Suffering” is a general term for these damages and is calculated based on your future well-being. To calculate pain and suffering, you can contact a local personal injury lawyer now for more information about how we can ensure you get the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.

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