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What Does Pain and Suffering Mean in a Personal Injury Claim?

You have probably heard of the term “pain and suffering” used in reference to a lawsuit. Unless you work in the legal profession, you may not know how it applies to a personal injury case. It is important to know what pain and suffering refer to from a legal perspective. In these situations, there are two types of pain and suffering. One refers to suffering physical pain and the other refers to suffering mental pain.

Physical Pain and Suffering

The person bringing a lawsuit is known as a plaintiff. This type of pain refers to the actual physical injuries experienced by a plaintiff. It describes all the physical pain and discomfort experienced by them. Physical pain is also used to describe the detrimental effects a plaintiff will experience in the future because of the negligence of a defendant.

Mental Pain and Suffering

A car accident lawyer knows this occurs as a result of a plaintiff being injured physically but refers more to what has occurred to the plaintiff as a result of the injuries to their body. Mental pain and suffering involves things such as shock, mental anguish, anxiety, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, unreasonable anger, fear, and more. It involves all the debilitating emotions the victim has experienced because they’ve had to deal with all the trauma and physical pain caused by their accident.

Serious Mental Pain and Suffering

This involves sleep disturbances, anger, mood swings, loss of appetite, sexual dysfunction as well as a lack of energy, and more. There is more serious mental pain and suffering that can be classified as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is similar to physical pain and suffering as it also involves what a plaintiff will experience in the future from their accident.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

A judge in a case will not usually provide a jury with any type of detailed guidelines to determine the value of a plaintiff’s pain and suffering. A jury will not be provided with any charts to review to help determine the value of an award. In most states, a judge will only tell a jury to use their experience, good sense as well as background to determine what would be a fair and reasonable amount of compensation for a plaintiff.

Some of the most common cases where compensation is awarded for pain and suffering are medical malpractice, traffic accidents, defective products, construction accidents, dog bites, and more. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 6,900 personal injury lawsuits are heard in state courts. They usually take place in 75 of the most populated counties in the United States.

Author information: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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