Monetary damages for “pain and suffering” often make up a considerable amount of a settlement or a jury’s award in a personal injury case. It is shorthand for the physical and mental or emotional pain and suffering that a person experiences after being in an accident caused by another person.
How much is pain and suffering worth?
Unlike lost wages and medical expenses — which can usually be determined to a reasonably certain amount—it is much harder to put a monetary figure on pain and suffering. Every person has a different threshold of pain and suffering, and what one person may be able to brush off as insignificant and a nuisance may be disabling to another person.
Physical pain can range from the mild discomfort of a few bumps and minor bruises to the excruciating pain of a severe burn or severed limb; physical pain may last only a short time or it may 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, posttraumatic 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 severe in the long run than are the physical injuries.