What is Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Brad Nakase, Attorney


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A lot of people have come across the words “pain and suffering,” but they may not be aware that it plays a significant role in many cases of personal injury. But what is the meaning of pain and suffering from the context of law? And crucially, what are the calculations for insurance compensation or litigation of suffering an injury?

Meaning of “pain and suffering”

Two kinds of pain and suffering exist: physical pain and agony and psychological distress and agony.

Physical pain and suffering are the complainant’s visible injuries. In addition to the pain and inconvenience the plaintiff has tolerated to the present moment, it entails the harmful outcomes that the complainant has the probability of suffering in the future due to the defendant’s laxity.

Psychological pain and suffering is due to the plaintiff having a physical injury, but it is more of the remnants of the bodily harm. Psychological pain and anguish entail mental suffering, losing hope in life, panic, nervousness, rage, disgrace, uneasiness, and trauma. Psychological distress is any detrimental feeling an accident survivor endures.  

A tremendous psychological disturbance may comprise rage, stress, aversion, weakness, impotence, moodiness, and insomnia. Additionally, unyielding psychological pain and agony can entail post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Similar to physical ache and agony, psychological pain and agony entail not only the impacts the survivor has tolerated but also the probable ache and suffering the victim will undergo in the future. 

Some instances of pain and suffering

Let’s analyze some cases of how victims of a car accident may undergo pain and anguish.

To begin, let’s look at a severe instance. Let’s assume that an individual had a car crash that led to several broken bones, including a severe shock. That is a horrible accident. The injuries made the plaintiff angry and stressed, endure significant aversion, and experience insomnia. The challenges led the plaintiff to seek a psychiatrist and a physician as they have a direct relationship to the accident. The plaintiff has the right to restitution for psychological ache and agony because of the accident.

Psychological ache and agony can, in some instances, be so severe that the victim cannot continue to work even after the healing of physical harm. In such a situation, these survivors’ gloom may stay long after the physical healing. In such an instance, the plaintiff would still have a right to compensation concerning psychological ache and agony, for example, lost revenue.

Now, let’s analyze a light example of psychological ache and agony. Let’s assume that an individual strains his/her back in an accident. Due to the back strain, the plaintiff cannot exercise for a couple of weeks, and is not able to participate in a marathon he/she had been preparing for months. Because the plaintiff did not participate in the marathon, she/he is mad, disappointed, sad, and may have stress. This plaintiff does not need psychological help, however these impact, though relatively lesser, still have a psychological ache and agony qualification.

Calculations of pain and suffering

Magistrates do not offer courts a lot of guidance in calculating the value of ache and agony in personal harm litigation. Courts do not have charts for deciding the value of damages. In California, magistrates simply tell courts to use their skills and experiences in determining a sensible restitution amount.

You may be aware of the use of a “multiplier” in the personal harm litigation. This involves calculating suffering as equivalent to a given multiple of the victim’s full medical fee and lost income. These multiples are known as “special damages” of the plaintiff.

The “multiplier” frequently lies between 1.5 and 4. This means that the ache and agony is 1.5 to 4 times the value of the plaintiff’s exclusive compensation. Nonetheless, the concept of “multiplier” is a very rough approximation and is not applicable in all personal harm litigations. It is majorly useful in minimal cases of injury, where full compensation does not exceed $50,000. However, you should take care of using the “multiplier,” even in small lawsuits.  

Several factors influence the value of ache and agony elements in a personal harm lawsuit. The factors are:

  • If the complainant will be a good/lousy testifier.
  • Is the complainant approachable?
  • Is the complainant trustworthy?
  • Is the testimony of the complainant concerning his/her injuries constant?
  • Is the complainant overstating his/her demands for ache and agony?
  • Are the clinicians of the complainant attesting to his/her claims of ache and agony?
  • Do the judges feel that the complainant did not tell the truth about something? The general guideline is that if the complainant lies even about a minor matter, he/she loses.
  • Are the analysis, injuries, and demands of the complainant sensible to the judges?
  • Does the complainant have a criminal background?

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