What Types of Damages are Awarded for Pain & Suffering?

Personal Injury • March 10, 2022

When you are injured by someone else’s negligence or purposeful actions, it can be pretty clear how to account for medical costs, property damage, or loss of wages. But what about the damages for pain and suffering? How can a court put a price on emotional anguish, loss of life spent with a loved one, or even loss of enjoyment of life? Despite this being a seemingly subjective measurement, the law does provide ways to estimate monetary amounts for these situations.

How Does the Law Define Pain and Suffering?

As with everything related to the law, it’s helpful to understand the established definitions of factors that can dramatically affect a jury award or insurance claim. There are two types of pain and suffering that are recognized:


  • Mental pain and suffering – A by-product of physical injuries, this includes emotional distress, anxiety, anger, fear, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. It can extend into clinical depression, lack of appetite or energy, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, it covers not just suffering since the incident, but pain and suffering that the victim will suffer in the future.


  • Physical pain and suffering – These are the physical bodily injuries that the plaintiff has sustained. It includes the actual discomfort the victim has already endured and the pain they will continue to suffer throughout their lifetime.

As an example, imagine a professional surfer is training for upcoming competitions. Winning means prestige in the surfing world, as well as lucrative contracts for coaching and product sponsorship. If the surfer is involved in a T-bone collision from a distracted driver, they could suffer physical trauma that prevents them from surfing or even swimming for weeks at a time. Further, the inability to train, loss of income opportunities, and time away from the vocation they love could result in major depression. They can develop anxiety about the loss of income and standing in their career. They may require therapy for both physical and mental health issues that arise, all from the distracted driver’s failure to pay due care and attention.

Calculating Pain and Suffering for Damages

Despite pain and suffering being a very real component of nearly every personal injury claim, there are no concrete guidelines for determining dollar amounts. In most states, the judge will instruct the jury to use common sense and good faith to decide a fair amount of compensation.

While some attorneys use a “multiplier” when considering how much to ask for, this is not a hard and fast rule that courts follow. Lawyers may assess pain and suffering at 1.5 to 4 times the value of the plaintiff’s special damages. This varies widely across states and does not apply in all situations. If damages are below $50,000, a multiplier may work well, but there is no guarantee the jury or judge will honor the amount.

An Experienced Attorney Is Your Best Guide for Pain and Suffering Damages

Insurance companies will use their own calculators for pain and suffering, but they are interested in their bottom line, not your unique situation. When you choose a skilled attorney, they conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your case to fully understand how the injuries have affected your life, now and in the future.  At Brady Reilly & Cardoso LLC, our experienced Jersey City personal injury lawyers can guide you to receiving the maximum compensation for your claim or trial. Contact us today by phone at 201-997-0030.