As discussed in the article on personal injury damages, “pain and suffering” is a key component of compensatory damages.  But what is your pain and suffering really worth?

Types of Pain and Suffering

“Pain and Suffering” damages come in two flavors: mental and physical.

Physical Pain and Suffering.   This is pain and discomfort resulting from your actual physical injuries, both in the past and projected into the future.

Mental Pain and Suffering.  Mental pain and suffering most often arise from the physical injuries you sustained.  Mental pain and suffering includes things like mental anguish, emotional distress, depression, fear, anger, even Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder.  Just about any kind of negative emotion can be classified as mental pain and suffering if it is a direct result from the physical pain of your injuries.

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Calculating Pain And Suffering

There are few guidelines for determining the value of pain and suffering.  Juries are often instructed to use their good sense, background, and experience in determining a fair and reasonable pain and suffering award.  To determine a potential dollar value, some PI attorneys estimate pain and suffering injuries to be three times the value of compensatory damages.  Thus, if your compensatory damages total $50,000, pain and suffering damages may be $150,000.  This is a rough estimate, however, and may not even remotely apply to your case.

Proving Pain And Suffering Damages

If you’re seeking to obtain damages for pain and suffering, you’ll need at least a few witnesses willing to testify on how the accident affected your life.  They’ll need to discuss how you were before, and how you were afterwards.  The most important thing is to have some element of pain and suffering that strikes a chord in a judge or jury.

For example, let’s say that the one thing that you treasured above everything else was to pick up your 2 year old child and comfort her when she was crying.  Now thanks to your injuries you can no longer do that, and every time she cries it breaks your heart.   In contrast, if you were once passionate about kayaking, and you can no longer kayak thanks to the accident, it’s less likely that you will garner sympathy with a jury, because few of them own or use kayaks.

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