What Is Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Law?

Sep 29, 2021

Pain and suffering damages are awarded for the emotional trauma, physical discomfort and psychological repercussions of your injuries. Pain and suffering damages are not the same in every personal injury case, which is why there isn’t always a clear method of appropriate calculation.

Pain and suffering damages aren’t only awarded for the physical pain you experience immediately after the accident or during your recovery. Justification for pain and suffering damages can range from emotional and psychological trauma to the embarrassment you experience because of disfigurement or scarring.

Pain and suffering damages may also be awarded for post traumatic stress. For example, some people who have suffered serious dog bite injuries might develop a fear of dogs or experience severe anxiety when they hear a dog bark. That trauma might have long-term negative ramifications. Some people involved in serious car accidents may develop a fear of driving, which could prevent them from leading a productive life in the future.

The physical discomfort you feel as a result if your injuries is also important when considering pain and suffering. People with personal injury cases deserve compensation for the physical and mental ordeal they’ve been forced to endure as a result of someone else’s negligence.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Calculating pain and suffering isn’t always straightforward. One of two methods is generally used in cases where pain and suffering damages are appropriate. The first, and most common, is the multiplier method.

Your attorney and the insurance company will negotiate on what the multiplier should be in your case. In most cases the multiplier is three, but it can be anywhere between one and five. The economic damages you’re awarded are multiplied by the multiplier to determine your pain and suffering damages. If your economic damages were $30,000 and you have a pain and suffering multiplier of three then you’d be awarded $30,000 + $90,000.

The alternative pain and suffering calculation method is the “per diem” method. Per diem, which means per day in Latin, means awarding you a specific amount for every day it took you to recover from your injuries. If the agreed upon per diem amount was $350 and your recovery took nine months (274 days), your pain and suffering damages would be $95,900.

One of the most popular ways of determining the per diem amount is to use the injured person’s income. The rationale is essentially that your income is the value of your day, or the effort of your workday is at least comparable to the effort you exerted enduring your pain.

The method that’s best for your case depends on a lot of factors. Someone with a particularly high income might get a bigger settlement or verdict using the per diem method, but most personal injury attorneys lobby for the multiplier method.

What Affects the Multiplier?

Determining whether your multiplier should be one, five or any number in between isn’t always straightforward. The abilities of your lawyer in terms of their investigative and negotiating expertise may play a significant role in your multiplier.

Pain and suffering are very subjective concepts. How can you accurately gauge the level of pain another person is experiencing? There’s no pain meter that accurately measures each person’s unique perceptions. Instead, your personal injury lawyer will need to build a case that reliably demonstrates you were or are experiencing extreme discomfort. This often involves creating a compelling narrative to show how your pain and suffering has impacted your life and happiness.

Some factors your attorney might rely upon include things like:

  • How long it took you to recover
  • Whether you ever did recover fully
  • How a permanent disability caused by an accident is impacting your lifestyle, job or family
  • Lingering effects of an injury on your day-to-day life
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The medications you’re forced to take to cope with the pain
  • Testimony from psychological professionals or pain management doctors
  • Whether you’ve lost happiness or fulfillment
  • Proof of the psychological problems you face now (stress, depression, anxiety, etc.)

Making a compelling case that you’re suffering might take creative thinking. The compassionate team of Atlanta personal injury lawyers at the Dressie Law Firm pride themselves in their client-focused approach to service. Their authentic concern for every client’s wellbeing helps them empathize with clients and build compelling cases that demonstrate pain and suffering.

A lawyer that truly grasps what you’re going through will be better equipped to communicate those feelings to insurance companies during negotiations or judges and juries at trial.


Get the pain and suffering damages you deserve after a personal injury – schedule a free consultation with the Dressie Law Firm by calling 770-756-6333.