What is Pain and Suffering After an Accident?

What is Pain and Suffering After an Accident?

When you’re in a car accident, it can change your life in so many ways. If an accident is not your fault but is the fault of someone else, you should receive compensation for your damages.

Damages can fall into two categories—economic and non-economic. Economic damages can be easily measured. They include expenses like medical costs. Insurance companies and jurors in a trial can fairly easily understand the calculation of economic damages.

Non-economic damages are harder to calculate.

Non-economic damages can include factors such as the trauma you went through as a result of your accident and injuries.

Pain and suffering is something that falls under the umbrella of non-economic damages, and it’s one of the components of damages that is often misunderstood.

The following are key things to know about pain and suffering as it pertains to an accident claim.

An Overview

Pain and suffering is a measure of non-economic damages that looks at how your standard or quality of life has changed because of your accident. If you were to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this is something that might be included in a calculation of pain and suffering.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can require a variety of treatments, including counseling and medication.

Pain and suffering involves physical pain as well as mental pain and emotional damages, such as worry or the loss of enjoyment of life.

How Does an Insurance Company Calculate Pain and Suffering?

Where it can get tricky is in the calculation of pain and suffering.

With pain and suffering, there isn’t a specific rule used to make a calculation.

Working with an attorney experienced in this area can be extremely helpful.

A lot of attorneys will use one of two calculation methods.

The first involves multiplying actual damages suffered by the plaintiff by a number which is typically between one and five. The number used as the multiplier is based on the injury severity.

Some attorneys will instead use a per diem method to calculate pain and suffering damages.

This means they’ll select a certain dollar amount, and then they’ll add that to every day from the accident to the time of maximum recovery.

An insurance company doesn’t have to consider these methods in their calculations.

They often automate their calculations with software or algorithms.

For some insurance companies, in their calculations, the type of medical treatment required by the injured person is relevant in their calculation.

For example, if a medical doctor treated you, your injuries might be considered more severe than if a chiropractor treated you.

There are certain situations where neither the multiplier method of calculation nor per diem are the right way to calculate pain and suffering.

One example might be if someone has burns or scarring due to their accident. Medical care may not be that expensive, but these are injuries that will impact someone for the rest of their life, so there may be a different valuation method utilized by an attorney or insurance company.

How Do You Prove It?

Along with the challenges of calculating something intangible like pain and suffering, you also have to figure out how it’s proven. You will need to be able to support the claim you’re making. There are a lot of different types of evidence that might prove pain and suffering.

For example, journals and photographs might be used.

Friends and family might provide documentation about the effects of your injuries on your life.

If you work with a mental health professional such as a counselor or therapist, they can provide documentation and proof of treatment.

If your case goes to trial, you might speak to a jury and tell them yourself how your injuries from an accident have impacted your life.

Mental and physical health care providers can also talk to a jury about the potential impacts of your accident and injuries on different parts of your life.

Working with an Attorney

If you’ve experienced medical or mental health effects from an accident, the best option is to speak with a personal injury attorney.

Even before you do that, make sure you keep all of your medical records from every type of treatment you receive, including mental health care.

Unfortunately for accident victims, it’s not uncommon for an insurance company to try and minimize the effects of the accident, particularly when it comes to pain and suffering.

An attorney can help you recover damages that will be an important part of moving forward.


Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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