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Emotional Distress & Pain and Suffering After an Injury Claim

Posted on March 21, 2022

After a personal injury accident, victims are entitled to compensation for emotional distress and pain and suffering. However, these types of damages differ from actual financial losses (e.g., medical bills, lost income, etc.), making them challenging to prove and assign a monetary value to. 

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a type of damage awarded with pain and suffering and is defined as mental suffering arising from a traumatic event. The symptoms can vary, but some common ones include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory issues
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Increased alcohol use
  • Sleep disturbances
  • PTSD (i.e., severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts about the abuse)
  • Trouble focusing on daily life

Severe emotional distress can also result in physical symptoms after a personal injury. For instance, panic attacks, insomnia, lack of energy, weight loss or gain, gastrointestinal issues, and tension headaches can all be caused by emotional distress.

What is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain a victim has had to endure due to a personal injury accident. For example, pain from injuries, disfigurement, scarring, and permanent disability. The more severe the injury, the more compensation you may be entitled to for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages also take into account the impact the injuries have had on your life, including if there are activities that you are no longer able to enjoy or require assistance with. 


How Are Emotional Damages For Pain and Suffering Calculated?

One of the following two methods are often used to calculate emotional damages for pain and suffering:

Multiplier Method

This method is the more commonly used procedure. First, the economic damages are totaled, which includes current and future medical expenses, current and future lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and property damage. That total amount of economic damages is then multiplied by a number, typically between 1.5 and 5. The more severe the injury, the higher the multiplier number will be. 

Per Diem Approach

The per diem approach assigns a dollar amount (often the victim’s daily wages) to each day the victim suffers from the injury until they recover. 

Occasionally, an insurance company will use a software program to calculate emotional damages for pain and suffering, which considers your type of injury and the amount of medical care you have received, and require in the future. 

Factors in Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

A variety of additional factors are taken into account to calculate emotional distress and pain and suffering damages, for example: 

  • Whether your daily life has been affected or limited, and how. 
  • If your relationships have been impacted.
  • Whether you sleep and other lifestyle activities have changed.
  • Your expected length of recovery and whether your injuries are permanent. 
  • Your age and if your life expectancy has potentially been shortened. 
  • Whether you have any pre-existing injuries. 

Permanent injuries or those that significantly alter a victim’s daily life will typically result in higher awards for emotional distress and pain and suffering damages.