The legal term pain and suffering is shorthand for the physical pain and mental or emotional anguish a person experiences after experiencing an injury caused by another person. These damages often make up a considerable amount of a settlement or a jury’s award in a a personal injury case.
Unlike lost wages and medical expenses — which can usually be determined to a specific amount—it is difficult to put a monetary figure on pain and suffering. Every person has a different threshold of pain and suffering, and different injuries affect people in various ways.
Physical pain can range from the mild discomfort of bruises and abrasions to the excruciating pain of a severe burn or severed limb; physical pain may be temporary, or last a lifetime.
Mental or emotional suffering includes a wide range of factors, including fright at the time of the injury, apprehension as to its effects, nervousness and anxiety, headaches, loss of enjoyment of life, shock, nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, development of fears and phobias, post traumatic stress, outrage, grief, worry, mortification, and, in the case of someone who was disfigured because of another person’s negligence, embarrassment, ridicule, and humiliation.
Traditionally, physical pain has been easier to prove and more acceptable to the courts and juries than mental suffering. However, with the advances in psychiatry and psychology, juries have begun to understand that the emotional damages suffered by a person are often more long lasting than physical injuries.