The most frequently asked question we get as personal injury lawyers is, what are my pain and suffering damages worth? There is never an easy answer to that question, because it depends on so many different factors. To determine what they’re worth, it’s helpful to first discuss what pain and suffering damages are.
First, they’re not really called “pain and suffering damages.” Many lawyers refer to them as general damages, or non-economic damages, because they tend to refer to those damages above and beyond things like medical bills and lost income. Generally speaking, damages for “pain and suffering” are designed to compensate the personal injury victim for all physical, mental, and emotional suffering and/or distress that arises from an incident causing bodily injury. These are the damages that compensate for the “impact” the injury has had on a person’s life.
While there is no legal definition for “pain,” it is generally described as the nerve impulses sent to the brain to express some form of distress. How the pain is compensated usually depends on the nature, extent, and duration of the pain, and the injured party’s ability to characterize the pain. Medical records, and sometimes the testimony of a doctor, are frequently used to support an injured person’s claims of pain, and it is always helpful to have objective medical data to support claims of pain.
The actual “suffering” is usually described as the mental component associated with the pain, although not always. In addition to the obvious emotional component associated with actual pain, suffering is also characterized as shock, anxiety, worry, embarrassment, disfigurement, grief, fear, and the loss of enjoyment of life.