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What Is ‘Pain and Suffering’ in a Civil Claim and How to Prove It


Whether you’re suffering injuries from a work-related accident, motor vehicle accident, or a slip and fall accident, you may be eligible for monetary and non-monetary damages, especially pain and suffering damages, in a personal injury claim.

Ehline law and our personal injury attorneys have helped more than 3,000 injured clients with their personal injury claims and recovered over $150 million in compensation for their personal injuries and pain and suffering. If you’re suffering pain and emotional trauma, contact us to learn more about your rights as an injured victim.

Video Transcript

” 0:00 what is pain and suffering in a civil

0:02 claim pain and suffering in a civil

0:05 claim pertains to the tort injuries any

0:11 tort unlike a contract an injured victim

0:14 can sue for their pain and mental

0:16 anguish as well as their suffering so if

0:19 someone gets shot in the leg and they’re

0:22 under extreme pain because of a severed

0:24 nerve for example a jury can calculate

0:27 an award of pain and suffering it often

0:30 based upon what they feel is a fair

0:33 amount for this person to have to suffer

0:35 for the rest of their lives so for

0:37 example it might be worth to a jury

0:40 thirty dollars a day over this person’s

0:43 lifetime so the jury would multiply that

0:46 thirty dollars a day times the expected

0:48 life of the plaintiff in order to award

0:50 compensation for pain and suffering”

Pain & Suffering can include damages for physical and emotional distress. However, these damages can only testify to the past. In some instances, the Plaintiff can use actuarial tables to show what his life expectancy is—must be compensated for that many years of pain and suffering.

Additionally a Plaintiff may recover for Loss of enjoyment of life that is, loss of enjoyment of activities the injury prevents the ­victim from pursuing. Victims cannot recover if they are unconscious—not aware of or distressed by loss of enjoyment. Additionally, must be conscious for an “appreciable period of time” before death to recover.

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What Is ‘Pain and Suffering’ in a Civil Claim?

After an accident, you may feel physical and mental pain which can affect your quality of life. The pain and suffering can go on for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of the injuries. 

Worse, mental and emotional pain can remain with the victim for much longer, requiring therapy to overcome the challenges.

Is ‘Pain and Suffering’ Easily Calculated?

Pain and suffering are subjective feelings, and only the victim can understand and explain what they are going through, making it difficult to quantify and put a dollar amount to when filing a pain and suffering claim. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial to recover what you deserve.

Types of Pain and Suffering

There are many different types of pain and suffering damages a person can claim in a personal injury lawsuit, and some of them include the following:

  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical impairment
  • Embarrassment
  • Grief
  • Humiliation
  • Loss of companionship
  • Sexual dysfunction.

Is There a Limit on Pain and Suffering Damages?

Based on the evidence and facts of a case, the jury and judge can award compensation for pain and suffering damages. However, some states may limit the damages awarded for pain and suffering.

Does California Have a Limit on Pain and Suffering Damages?

In California, there is no limit on non-economic damages in most personal injury cases, but some exceptions may apply. 

For example, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 for medical malpractice cases.

Is Claiming Pain and Suffering Damages Challenging?

Claiming economic damages from physical injuries is easy to calculate (medical bills, hospital stay fees, lost wages, etc.). However, assigning a dollar value to non-economic damages, primarily pain and suffering, can be challenging.

You would need to provide evidence that would help the insurer or the jury understand the extent of your pain and suffering.

Proving Pain and Suffering

Some of the documentation or evidence that can prove the physical pain and emotional trauma you’re going through includes:

  • Your visits to the medical doctors, including mental health therapy sessions.
  • Written opinions by therapists describing the extent of your pain and suffering and how your life will continue to be affected beyond bodily injury.
  • Testimonies from third-party medical witnesses helping verify the statements or opinions made by your doctors and therapists.
  • Prescriptions for medications for your physical injuries and medical pain.
  • Documentation regarding your permanent conditions.
  • A detailed journal explaining how the pain has affected your life and your ability to carry out daily activities following the accident.
  • Testimonies from your friends and family members explaining the impact on your daily life.

Documentations from expert witnesses, including mental health professional, and your personal journal creates sympathy and helps the insurer or the jury understand your excruciating journey and how the accident continues to affect your life.

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in a Personal Injury Case

There are certain factors that the insurer, judge, and jury take into consideration when calculating pain and suffering compensation, and these include:

  • The severity of the injuries
  • Physical and mental suffering
  • How the injuries continue to impact the victim’s life
  • Employment status following the accident
  • Victim’s health and the duration it will take for the injury to heal
  • Types of medical treatments the victim is undergoing
  • Future medical treatments the victim may require
  • Injury prognosis.

Every personal injury case is different, and presenting the right evidence can improve the chances of recovering damages.

Calculating pain and suffering in personal injury lawsuits can be challenging, and an experienced attorney can help calculate pain and suffering damages and prove them by gathering the evidence needed.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

If you are suffering from severe mental pain and emotional trauma from a personal injury accident due to another’s negligence we offer a free consultation, as you may qualify for compensation. Our personal injury attorneys understand how constant physical pain and mental suffering can change your life and affect your daily activities.

Our top rated personal injury lawyers are capable of helping you obtain full and fair compensation after any type of negligence. We can help the victim or a representative of the deceased’s estate recover damages 24/7. Contact us at (213) 596-9642 for a free case review if you or a close family member has questions about pain and suffering damages. We can also be reached by using our convenient online contact us form.

Michael Ehline


Michael Ehline in Tuxedo

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his JD from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. He compassionately helps clients recover after serious injuries.

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