Personal Injuries

How Is Pain and Suffering Handled for Personal Injury Claims

Man suffering emotionally after accident.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. What Is Pain and Suffering In an Insurance Claim?

III. What Counts As Pain and Suffering?

IV. How Do Insurance Companies Handle Pain and Suffering Claims?

V. How Do You Determine How Much Compensation Is Owed for Pain and Suffering?

VI. Considerations and Variability

VII. Legal Considerations

VIII. Role of Personal Injury Attorneys

IX. Settling vs. Litigating

X. Conclusion



Personal injury claims are complicated enough as is. This is doubly true if you have no experience or prior knowledge on this matter. Now, many of you may have a slew of different questions about this subject. One of the most common questions we get about personal injury claims is how pain and suffering are handled in these types of cases. To help answer this question, we thought it would be useful to put together an article about this subject. If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about, read on as we break down everything you need to know about how pain and suffering are handled for personal injury claims.

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What Is Pain and Suffering In an Insurance Claim?

Defining Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering encompass the physical and emotional distress a person endures after an injury. It goes beyond tangible medical bills and property damage, incorporating the intangible toll an accident can take on one's well-being.

Damages for pain and suffering are designed to cover the non-economic impacts of a serious accident. When you suffer serious injuries in an accident, you may find yourself dealing with a number of financial challenges, such as high medical bills or a loss of income if you can't work. These items, known as special damages, typically have a direct financial value that you can calculate.

What Counts As Pain and Suffering?

Serious injuries are often accompanied by substantial physical pain. For example, if you break any bones in the accident, you may have to endure pain as your injuries heal. Or, even after you're healed, you may still feel pain. Serious injuries, like burns, may also causes substantial physical pain.

Accidents often cause physical pain and suffering, as well as emotional anguish. For example, if you suffer a spinal cord injury, you might lose a lot of independence, which could be very distressing. Many people also struggle with PTSD, anxiety, or depression after an accident and the limitations it imposes.

While many injuries can be healed with time, some will leave behind permanent limitations that will change the way you live your life. This could mean that you are unable to work, or that you can no longer participate in activities that you once enjoyed. For example, you might have to miss out on special occasions with loved ones or miss out on experiences that you cannot enjoy because of your injuries. These losses can add to the emotional distress often caused by a serious accident.

How Do Insurance Companies Handle Pain and Suffering Claims?

Though many insurance companies factor in pain and suffering when issuing compensation, it's important to remember that they don't always do so automatically or sufficiently. In many cases, the settlement offer from the insurance company will only cover direct medical expenses or a percentage of them. In some instances, it may also include a portion of the wages lost because of the accident. If you sustained serious injuries from an accident, speak to an attorney about the compensation you might be entitled to for pain and suffering, and how to make sure the insurance company factors it into your claim.

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How Do You Determine How Much Compensation Is Owed for Pain and Suffering?

Calculating pain and suffering in personal injury cases is a complex process that involves various methods, including the per diem method and the multiplier method. These methods aim to quantify the intangible aspects of an injury, such as the physical pain and emotional distress endured by the victim. Let's delve into each method and provide detailed examples for better understanding.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method involves assigning a daily monetary value to the victim's pain and suffering. This value is then multiplied by the number of days the victim experienced pain and suffering due to the injuries. The per diem rate is often determined based on factors such as the severity of the injuries, the impact on daily life, and the overall pain level.

Example of Per Diem Method:

Suppose an individual is injured in a car accident and experiences back pain and emotional distress as a result. The victim's medical records and expert testimony indicate that they endured these symptoms for a total of 150 days. To calculate pain and suffering using the per diem method, let's assume a per diem rate of $100:

Per Diem Rate: $100
Number of Days of Pain and Suffering: 150

Pain and Suffering Compensation = Per Diem Rate × Number of Days

Pain and Suffering Compensation = $100 × 150

Pain and Suffering Compensation = $15,000

In this example, the pain and suffering compensation using the per diem method would be $15,000.

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Multiplier Method

The multiplier method involves calculating pain and suffering compensation by multiplying the victim's total economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) by a certain factor. This factor, known as the multiplier, typically ranges from 1.5 to 5, depending on the severity of the injuries and other relevant factors.

Example of Multiplier Method:

Imagine a case where an individual sustains injuries in a slip and fall accident. The victim incurs medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage totaling $30,000. To calculate pain and suffering using the multiplier method, let's assume a multiplier of 3:

Total Economic Damages: $30,000Multiplier: 3

Pain and Suffering Compensation = Total Economic Damages × Multiplier

Pain and Suffering Compensation = $30,000 × 3

Pain and Suffering Compensation = $90,000

In this example, the pain and suffering compensation using the multiplier method would amount to $90,000.

Considerations and Variability

It's important to note that both the per diem and multiplier methods are just tools used to estimate pain and suffering compensation. The actual multiplier or per diem rate chosen can vary widely based on the specifics of the case, the jurisdiction's legal environment, and the arguments presented by the parties involved. Additionally, some jurisdictions may have limitations on the use of these methods or impose caps on pain and suffering compensation.

Legal professionals and insurance adjusters often negotiate pain and suffering compensation based on the circumstances of each case. These methods provide a structured approach to valuing intangible harm, but they are not fixed rules. Understanding the nuances of each method and the relevant factors in your case is crucial for accurately estimating pain and suffering compensation.

Factors Influencing Compensation

Several factors play a role in determining the compensation for pain and suffering:

  • Severity of Injuries: The extent of the injuries and the pain they cause significantly impact the potential compensation.
  • Duration of Recovery: Longer recovery periods often lead to increased pain and suffering compensation.
  • Impact on Daily Life: If the injuries disrupt the victim's ability to work, enjoy life, or engage in activities they once loved, this is considered in the assessment.
  • Medical Documentation: Comprehensive medical records that outline the physical and emotional impact of the injuries provide crucial evidence.
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Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may or may not experience substantial physical pain. If you have a good doctor managing your condition, you may not feel much pain at all. However, some injuries can cause chronic pain that makes it difficult to focus on anything else. If you're dealing with this type of pain, it can consume your life. Talk to your attorney about the physical pain you've experienced during your recovery.

Some patients who have suffered serious physical injuries go on to develop mental health problems related to their injuries. For example, you may have increased anxiety, depression, or PTSD symptoms. This can make it hard to do everyday activities that you used to take for granted. If you have PTSD after a car accident, you may find it very difficult to get in a car or drive past the accident site. If your mental health has been significantly impacted by your injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation. You may also be able to include the cost of treatment for your mental health condition as part of your personal injury claim.

Legal Considerations

Jurisdictional Differences

The way pain and suffering are handled varies by jurisdiction. Some states have "no-fault" systems that restrict when pain and suffering can be claimed, while others follow a "comparative negligence" approach, where compensation is adjusted based on the victim's contribution to the accident. Here are some examples:


California follows a comparative negligence system, specifically a "pure comparative negligence" system. This means that even if the injured party is partially at fault for the accident, they can still recover compensation for their injuries, including pain and suffering. However, the compensation awarded will be reduced in proportion to their level of fault. For example, if someone is found 30% responsible for an accident, their overall compensation, including pain and suffering, will be reduced by 30%.

New York

New York is another state that follows a comparative negligence system, but it uses a "pure comparative negligence" approach. Similar to California, this means that even if the injured party is partially responsible for the accident, they can still seek compensation. For instance, if a pedestrian is hit by a car while crossing the street but is found 20% at fault for not using a designated crosswalk, their compensation would be reduced by that percentage.


Texas, on the other hand, is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that if the injured party is 51% or more at fault for the accident, they are barred from recovering any compensation. However, if their fault is determined to be 50% or less, they can still seek compensation, but it will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a person is injured in a car accident and is found 30% at fault for speeding, their compensation, including pain and suffering, will be reduced by 30%.


Florida operates under a "pure comparative fault" system. This means that an injured party can seek compensation even if they are primarily responsible for the accident. However, their compensation will be proportionately reduced based on their degree of fault. For instance, if a person is injured in a slip and fall accident inside a store but is found 40% at fault for not paying attention to warning signs, their overall compensation will be reduced by 40%.

These examples highlight how jurisdictional differences can significantly impact how pain and suffering compensation is handled in personal injury cases. It's crucial to understand the specific laws of the state where the incident occurred to determine how compensation is calculated and awarded. Consulting a legal professional familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction is highly recommended to navigate the complexities of personal injury claims effectively.

Role of Personal Injury Attorneys

Navigating a pain and suffering lawsuit involves a comprehensive process that skilled personal injury attorneys undertake to secure just compensation for their clients. Here's a detailed overview of the steps they typically cover:

  1. Case Assessment: Attorneys begin by thoroughly reviewing the case, examining medical records, accident reports, and any available evidence to understand the extent of injuries and the impact on the victim's life. They assess the viability of a pain and suffering claim based on negligence and liability.
  2. Medical Expertise: Attorneys often collaborate with medical experts to understand the full scope of physical and emotional harm suffered by the victim. These experts provide insights into the immediate and long-term effects of injuries, ensuring accurate representation of pain and suffering.
  3. Documentation: Comprehensive documentation is crucial. Attorneys gather medical records, expert opinions, witness statements, and other evidence that substantiates the victim's pain and suffering. This evidence strengthens the case's credibility and demonstrates the tangible impact of injuries.
  4. Valuation: Estimating the worth of pain and suffering requires careful consideration. Attorneys might utilize the per diem method, multiplier method, or a combination, factoring in severity, duration, and impact on daily life. Their goal is to secure a compensation amount that adequately reflects the intangible harm.
  5. Negotiation: Before heading to court, attorneys engage in negotiation with the opposing party, often involving insurance companies. They present the evidence, medical documentation, and expert opinions to support the claim for pain and suffering compensation. Negotiations aim to reach a fair settlement that encompasses all aspects of the victim's suffering.
  6. Litigation (if necessary): If negotiations don't yield a satisfactory result, attorneys may proceed to litigation. Here, they present the case in court, highlighting the extent of pain and suffering through compelling arguments, expert testimonies, and evidence. The court then determines the appropriate compensation amount based on the presented facts.
  7. Advocacy: Throughout the process, attorneys serve as unwavering advocates for their clients. They ensure that all aspects of pain and suffering, from physical discomfort to emotional distress, are effectively communicated to the opposing party, insurance adjusters, and, if applicable, the judge or jury.
  8. Emotional Support: Personal injury attorneys understand the emotional toll of the process on their clients. They offer guidance, alleviate concerns, and provide support, helping victims navigate the legal complexities while focusing on their recovery.
  9. Maximizing Compensation: Attorneys strive to maximize compensation by leveraging their legal expertise and negotiation skills. They take into account various factors, such as the client's age, occupation, and life impact, to accurately represent the true value of pain and suffering.
  10. Continued Advocacy: Even after a settlement or court verdict, attorneys ensure that their clients receive the agreed-upon compensation for pain and suffering. They oversee the process to guarantee that justice is served and the victim's interests are safeguarded.

In essence, personal injury attorneys meticulously cover every aspect of a pain and suffering lawsuit, from meticulous case assessment and evidence collection to expert collaboration, negotiation, and potentially litigation. Their dedication ensures that the intangible yet profound impact of pain and suffering is recognized and compensated justly.

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Settling vs. Litigating


Many personal injury cases are resolved through settlements, offering both advantages and drawbacks. In a settlement, the parties involved negotiate a compensation amount, typically encompassing pain and suffering as well as other damages. One of the primary pros of settlements is the avoidance of prolonged and costly court proceedings. Settlements also offer a level of control to both parties, allowing them to reach a mutually agreeable outcome. Additionally, settlements are generally less adversarial and stressful compared to litigation. However, a potential drawback is that the negotiated compensation might not fully reflect the actual extent of pain and suffering endured by the victim.


If a settlement is unattainable, the case may proceed to litigation, each with its own set of benefits and challenges. In litigation, a judge or jury evaluates the evidence and legal arguments to determine compensation for pain and suffering. The advantage of litigation is that it provides a formal platform for presenting a comprehensive case, ensuring that the victim's suffering is fully examined. A drawback, however, is the longer duration and higher costs associated with court proceedings. Moreover, the outcome is placed in the hands of the legal system, which might yield unpredictable results.

Attorney's Role in Deciding to Settle or Litigate

A skilled personal injury attorney plays a crucial role in determining whether to settle or proceed to litigation. They consider various factors, including the strength of the case, the extent of pain and suffering, the potential compensation amount, and the client's goals. Attorneys provide valuable feedback by weighing the pros and cons of each option. When it's right to settle, attorneys ensure that the negotiated compensation adequately addresses the victim's suffering and practical needs. Conversely, when litigation is pursued, attorneys leverage their expertise to build a compelling case that portrays the true impact of pain and suffering, aiming for a just outcome. The decision hinges on a careful assessment of the case's merits and the best strategy to secure fair compensation while minimizing stress and costs for their clients.

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We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you gain a better understanding of how pain and suffering play into personal injury claims. While it may seem complicated at first, the information that we’ve laid out here should help make things infinitely more manageable. Be sure to keep everything you’ve learned here in mind if you ever find yourself in this situation so that you can make the most informed decisions possible.

It’s important that you protect yourself as much as you can. If you are looking for experienced personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles, then we at Mendez & Sanchez Law are at your service. Our attorneys and team members are here to help you through the difficult legal landscape as we pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us today and let us discuss your current accident-related situation.


‍Pain and suffering encompass the physical and emotional distress experienced after an injury, going beyond tangible costs like medical bills. It includes the intangible toll of an accident on one's well-being, such as emotional anguish and loss of enjoyment.

‍Pain and suffering compensation is often negotiated through settlements or determined through litigation. In settlements, both parties agree on a compensation amount, including pain and suffering. In litigation, a judge or jury evaluates evidence and legal arguments to decide the compensation for pain and suffering.

‍While many insurance companies consider pain and suffering in compensation, it's not always automatic or sufficient. Some settlements may only cover direct medical expenses or a portion of them. If you have serious injuries, consulting an attorney is recommended to ensure fair compensation for pain and suffering.

‍The compensation for pain and suffering can be calculated using methods like the per diem method or the multiplier method. The per diem method assigns a daily value to suffering, while the multiplier method multiplies economic damages by a factor. Each method is applied based on the specifics of the case.

‍Several factors affect the compensation for pain and suffering, including the severity of injuries, duration of recovery, impact on daily life, and medical documentation. These factors contribute to evaluating the physical and emotional toll of the injuries and their lasting effects on the victim's well-being.

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