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What is 'Pain and Suffering' and how is it Calculated?

You’ve been in an accident. It wasn’t your fault. It was a scary experience but you survived. And now that you’ve come out the other side, you should be compensated for all that you lost. This can be determined fairly easily when it comes to physical items. Maybe your car was totaled — the market value can be checked for that. Perhaps you had electronics on you at the time that are unusable — there are retail prices that cover that.

But how are you compensated for the intangible negative effects of your accident? How do you turn the pain you’ve experienced into a number? How does mental trauma factor into this?

We’ve all heard the term “pain and suffering.” But who of us understands not only what it means, but also how it is utilized?

Pain and Suffering: Defined

Pain and suffering refers to the entirety of injuries a person sustains after an accident. There are many different scenarios that lend themselves to a “pain and suffering” consideration. This could include car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, workplace injuries, or any other personal injury suit.

Compensation for these injuries can be received from the party deemed to be at fault for the accident. An experienced Nashville accident attorney like Bart Durham can help you navigate these cases to get the compensation you deserve.

These types of injuries can be split into two different types: physical and mental.

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Any injuries are factored into this equation with the seriousness of each injury taken into account. More substantial injuries will create larger amounts of pain. These injuries are more highly compensated.

Current physical injuries are the first consideration, but future problems are also taken into account. Injuries can occasionally progress with time and create more problems. The possibility of this happening is also taken into account for the totality of the victim’s pain and suffering.


Metal injuries are less apparent to outsiders but no less detrimental to the victim of an accident. This includes resulting emotional distress, fear, anger, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and anxiety experienced by an accident victim after the event. Any negative emotions that stem from the accident are considered for this aspect of pain and suffering.

And just like physical pain and suffering, this includes mental injuries that could continue into the future as much as the current mental issues the victim is experiencing.


Compensation from an accident must be related to quantifiable losses. “Damages” is the blanket term used to encompass all of the various forms of these losses. These losses are split into two varieties of damages — special and general.

Special Damages

These are the more easily quantifiable of the two types of damages. Special damages refers to the losses as a result of the accident that can be calculated:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Missed income from lost time at work
  • Various expenses resulting from the accident

General Damages

These damages are more difficult to quantify. This is where pain and suffering come in. As we discussed above, this includes both physical and mental pain:

  • Physical injuries
  • Emotional Distress
  • Anxiety
  • Residual effects after the accident

How It’s Calculated

There is no exact rubric for how to calculate pain and suffering. It is a number that is negotiated between your Nashville accident attorney and the insurance company representing the at-fault party. And in the instance that an agreement is not reached between these parties, the amount of compensation is put in the hands of a court.

There are  multiple tactics used by courts to determine the compensation after an accident.


This method of determining a final offer is a math equation. The court will take the total amount of measurable damages such as medical expenses, and multiply that number. This number is usually multiplied by anywhere between 1.5 and 4. So, for instance, an accident victim that compiled $50,000 in medical expenses might be awarded up to $200,000.

A lot of factors go into the weight of multiplication that goes into these equations:

  • Credibility of the victim
  • Physician support of injury claims
  • Exaggeration of injuries
  • Consistency in testimony
  • And more

Any fallacies that can be claimed by the defense will most likely sink the victim’s chances of receiving compensation. Honest and straightforward accounts of the troubles faced by the victim should be presented for consideration by the court.

Per Diem

This method ascribes a dollar amount to each day the victim has to deal with the consequences of the accident. A good rule of thumb for this method is to use the victim’s daily work rate as their daily compensation rate. This accounts for their lost days of work and more since there are no weekends for per diem awards.

For instance, say a person gets into a car wreck and is in pain for about six months. Their yearly income is $50,000. This puts their daily rate at about $137 per day. And for 180 days, that makes the award $24,660.

Call an Experienced Injury Attorney

Bart Durham Injury Law has been serving the Nashville, Tennessee and Bowling Green, Kentucky areas for decades. If you have been in an accident, contact the firm today!

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