Last Updated on January 15, 2024

What are Pain & Suffering Injuries?

When someone suffers an injury due to another party’s negligence or wrongful actions, they may have the right to pursue compensation for their losses. This can include coverage of medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and other monetary impacts. However, one of the more complex elements of injury claims is calculating damages for the victim’s physical pain and emotional suffering.

Understanding what constitutes pain and suffering and how these damages are measured is crucial for injured victims and their families seeking fair restitution through the legal system. Our guide aims to provide a detailed, expert-informed resource over the next few minutes.

What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering?

In personal injury law, “pain and suffering” is an umbrella term covering both the physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by an injury or traumatic event. The key factors courts examine when evaluating these damages are:

  • The severity and duration of any physical pain resulting from the injury
  • The nature and extent of emotional and mental anguish
  • How significantly does the injury affect the victim’s daily life and ability to function?

Pain and suffering can arise from physical injuries, such as broken bones, burns, court proceedings, or medical procedures. However, monetary damages can also stem from purely psychological or emotional impacts, like trauma, grief, fear, anxiety, or depression after an accident or act of violence.

Types of Pain and Suffering Damages

Several distinct categories of damages fall under the umbrella of pain and suffering. Some of them include:

Physical Pain

This refers to discomfort stemming directly from a bodily injury, which is often easier to identify and quantify. Examples include chronic pain from torn ligaments, headaches, fatigue from concussions, or the aggravation of recovering from surgery. Victims may pursue damages covering treatment to alleviate long-term physical pain.

Mental and Emotional Pain

In some cases, the psychological impacts of an injury overshadow the physical damage. Trauma from car accidents, workplace injuries, or medical malpractice can all contribute to emotional distress. Victims may develop anxiety, depression, grief, fear, vulnerability, lack of sleep, lack of appetite, or other issues hampering their mental health and quality of life.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If an injury impairs a victim’s ability to participate in recreational activities, social events, or hobbies they previously enjoyed, damages can address this loss of joy and fulfillment. For example, a leg amputation after a drunk driving accident may prevent someone from their beloved sport of running marathons.

Loss of Quality of Life

Pain and suffering damages also broadly cover diminished independence, mobility, and capacity for self-care after an injury. Paralysis, disability, or disfigurement can all severely reduce what someone can achieve in their daily life. Judges and juries analyze how drastically an injury has affected someone when determining fair compensation.

Physical Impairment

Permanent limitations or alterations to bodily function also fall under pain and suffering. This includes reduced mobility from torn ligaments, loss of an organ or limb, severe scarring, or the ongoing need for medical devices like braces or prosthetics. Disfigurement and disability both entitle victims to seek restitution for their physical loss and associated emotional distress.

Other common types of suffering tied to injury claims include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of Consortium - reduced intimacy/companionship with spouse

Measuring Pain and Suffering

The inherently subjective and intangible nature of suffering makes calculating appropriate damages complex. In legal cases, judges or juries determine what dollar amounts adequately cover a victim’s past and future pain related to their injury. Generally, stronger evidence of pain contributes to higher rewards, but no definitive formulas exist under the law.

Two approaches commonly used to inform pain and suffering judgments are:

  • Multiplier Method - Damages are a set multiple of the victim’s quantified monetary losses, like medical bills and lost income. The multiplier method for calculating pain and suffering damages in New York involves multiplying the total economic damages by a number between 1.5 and 5. For example, if a person has $100,000 in economic damages and a multiplier of 3.0, the total damages award would be $400,000
  • Per Diem Method - The per diem method for calculating pain and suffering damages in New York assigns a specific dollar amount per day for the pain and suffering experienced. For example, a jury might assign a per diem of $250 per day for pain and suffering, and if the victim suffered for 200 days, the general damages would be $50,000

Emotional and Psychological Aspects

Coping with trauma and altered lives after devastating injuries extends far beyond just physical recovery for most victims. Serious accidents, negligence, or violence often require extensive psychological treatment for depression, grief, and vulnerability.

In-depth psychological evaluations help establish evidence of mental and emotional damages for court proceedings. Victim impact statements directly conveying the ongoing inner turmoil, sleeplessness, anger, or sadness resulting from injuries also dramatically highlight the real human suffering behind a claim.

Seeking counseling early on helps victims process trauma in a healthy manner before destructive thought patterns take hold. Support groups connected to specific injuries or experiences can also help victims feel less alone in their struggles. Maintaining perspective on life’s blessings, keeping active social connections, and focusing energy on new passions or purposes all help facilitate long-term emotional healing.

Navigating the Legal Process

For injury victims and their families pursuing compensation for their pain and suffering, undertaking legal action may add more stress and complexity to an already devastating situation. Having experienced representation to help guide this journey will provide invaluable support. Attorneys at the Porter Law Group deal with the legal complexities while you focus on healing. Some of those processes include:

  • Thoroughly documenting physical and emotional impacts, plus all medical evidence supporting pain claims.
  • Finding an attorney experienced in assessing and valuing pain and suffering damages.
  • Following lawyers’ advice on aggregating necessary evidence, from doctor statements to psychological evaluations.
  • Testifying compellingly at deposition or trial about all manifestations of trauma.
  • Securing expert witness testimony supports the details of the injury’s effects.
  • Settling prior to court proceedings if a reasonable offer adequately covers tangible and intangible damages.
  • Going to trial is a last resort to have a judge or jury determine fair pain compensation.

Getting Compensation for Your Pain

The physical discomfort and emotional anguish resulting from personal injuries can dramatically impact victims’ lives for years after accidents, negligence, or violence.

By understanding both the sources and impacts that constitute “pain and suffering” damages and navigating the claims process judiciously, victims have the best chance of receiving the restitution they deserve and need to rebuild their lives.

No amount of money can ever make up for the trauma endured or losses sustained. But tangible awards acknowledging true suffering do offer some chance for closure and a means to move forward positively into the future.

Anyone struggling with the impacts of an injury should seek out professional support—both legal and psychological—to protect their rights and well-being. Get in touch with the Porter Law Group today by calling us at 833-PORTER9 or sending us a message at to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Written By
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
Legally Reviewed on January 9, 2024
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Michael S. Porter on January 9, 2024. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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