Adam Ramirez, J.D.
Updated: Oct 17, 2022, 9:07am
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Table of Contents
- What Is Pain and Suffering?
- Average Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples
- How Pain and Suffering Is Calculated
- How Much Can I Sue for?
- How to Get a Pain and Suffering Settlement
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Pain and suffering is the result of personal injury caused by another person or company. In a lawsuit for personal injury, there are two types of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic damage that the victim has suffered. Their medical costs and lost wages are economic damages.
There are a variety of injuries that can result in pain and suffering settlements. In this guide, we’ll explain what pain and suffering is, review some pain and suffering settlement examples, and discuss everything you need to know about these settlements.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
There are several kinds of personal injury suits, all of which can result in pain and suffering settlements.
Common cases include:
- Negligence (such as from a car accident or slip and fall case)
- Fraud (such as identity theft)
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Assault and battery
- Wrongful death
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
Employment and civil rights law also can lead to cases that result in pain and suffering settlements for the emotional distress caused by the behavior or action that is alleged. Cases include:
- Wrongful arrest
- Malicious prosecution
- Workplace harassment
- Gender discrimination
- Racial discrimianton
- Housing discrimination
- Hostile work environment
- Excessive force
Types of Injuries Resulting in Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering can be caused by injuries such as:
- Broken bones in a car accident
- Cancer caused by type of chemical
- Perforated organ during surgery
- Loss of vision in an eye from an assault
- Spinal cord injury from a slip and fall
- Anxiety after a motorcycle accident
- Depression after workplace harassment
Factors Impacting Pain and Suffering Settlements
Factors that affect the amount of a pain and suffering settlement include:
- Type of accident or situation that caused the injury
- Type of injury
- Severity of the injuries and the pain involved
- Length of time needed to heal
- Impact on quality of life
- Medical treatment necessary
- Impact on the person’s job and relationships
In most cases the settlement you are seeking is paid by an insurance company and the policy limits control how much of a settlement they offer. Other factors could involve the newsworthiness of your case, how far along in litigation the case is, and whether you bear any responsibility for the accident or injury.
Effects of the Type of Injury on Pain and Suffering Settlement
The nature of the injury can play a large role in dictating the amount of money in a pain and suffering settlement. Catastrophic injuries that cause long-term disabilities often bring multi-million dollar settlements to compensate for past and future pain and suffering.
Less serious injuries still can bring large settlements depending on the length of hospitalization, physical therapy, and counseling that is involved. Injuries that aren’t physical still can bring large pain and suffering settlements, such as a wrongful termination that causes significant humiliation or depression.
Average Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples
The average payout for an injury from a car accident is $23,234 according to the Insurance Information Institute. Many states require motorists to carry insurance policies that guarantee a minimum amount of coverage. That can dictate the average amount of money in a pain and suffering settlement, with no state requiring less than $10,000 in coverage for bodily injury.
However, each case is unique and the severity of injury and factors involved in that specific case will impact the settlement amount offered. Settlement could range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Most settlements include confidentiality clauses, which prohibit the plaintiff from disclosing the amount of the settlement. Therefore, there is no exact data on the largest settlements ever reached or even common settlement amounts.
However, many cases go to trial and result in a verdict, a decision by a court as to the amount the plaintiff should be awarded, and these can be used to estimate how much a case is worth.
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How Pain and Suffering Is Calculated
No set standard exists for calculating how pain and suffering should be compensated. The subjectiveness of the process underscores the importance of documenting any and all information pertaining to your case.
Saving all evidence such as medical bills and other expenses associated with the injury is imperative. Documenting time spent addressing an injury and its side effects also is important. It can also be helpful to keep a journal documenting your emotional suffering. But many times, pain and suffering settlements are calculated using one of two formulas used by insurance companies.
The multiplier method totals all the plaintiff’s medical bills from the injury and multiplies that total by a number between 1.5 and 5. The multiplier is chosen depending on factors such as:
- The severity of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The prognosis
- The impact on day-to-day life
- Whether the plaintiff bears any fault for the accident
For example, if a person is involved in a car accident and suffers whiplash, a concussion, and a broken arm, their medical bills could total $5,000. Since the injuries are moderate, the insurance company might use a multiplier of 3 and offer a settlement of $15,000 for the pain and suffering component of the lawsuit. This is in addition to a separate amount covering the medical bills and lost work the plaintiff has as economic damages.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method sets a dollar amount for each day the claimant experienced the pain and suffering and is expected to continue to experience it. It can be hard to place a dollar value on the value of one day’s pain however.
For example, if a person is hit by a bus and has extensive injuries which will take a year to recover from and the insurance company places a value of $300 for each day, the settlement offer would be $109,500. They would be entitled to compensation for their economic injuries separately (the cost of medical care and lost wages).
Some states don’t allow per diem arguments for non-economic harm, including New Jersey, where the courts have concluded they have no basis in evidence.
How Much Can I Sue for?
The amount of money you seek in your lawsuit can depend on your injury and also the legal limits in your jurisdiction. Some states cap the amount of damages that can be awarded in a pain and suffering settlement.
California, for example, limits non-economic damages such as pain and suffering to $250,000 in malpractice suits. In Massachusetts, noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases are limited to $500,000.
Ohio limits non-economic damages in all torts to $250,000 or three times economic damages, capped at $350,000 for a single plaintiff or $500,000 total if there are multiple plaintiffs. New York, meanwhile, has no caps on any damages, economic, non-economic or punitive
How to Get a Pain and Suffering Settlement
If you have been injured or harmed in a situation such as a car accident, you will file a claim with the insurance company. You can retain an attorney to send a demand letter and negotiate a settlement. In other types of cases you may need to file a lawsuit or have your attorney share the merits of your case with the person or company who harmed you before they will offer a settlement.
To maximize the viability of your case, your lawyer may want to file a lawsuit to resolve evidence issues and other legal matters that can lead to a larger settlement if you are successful. It’s important to work with an attorney who has handled your type of case successfully in the past and who knows what a reasonable settlement is.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do insurers pay more for pain and suffering if your car is totaled?
Insurance companies typically limit what they pay in accordance with policy limits, but your lawyer may be able to reference your car being totaled when arguing for a pain and suffering settlement.
If your car being totaled resulted in a more catastrophic physical injury, it is likely that your settlement will be larger because of that even if pain and suffering is not explicitly mentioned.
Do I Need an Attorney?
It generally is important to select a qualified attorney to help you pursue your pain and suffering settlement.
Attorneys experienced in personal injury law know how to present a lawsuit that results in negotiation instead of litigation. You want to find an attorney who knows the jurisdiction in which your lawsuit will be filed and understands insurance laws and damages caps.
Sometimes an attorney’s reputation can help as much as the facts of the case, but it is important to discuss compensation and consider the scale of your claims and possible payout when deciding who to hire.
How Do I Find an Attorney for My Pain and Suffering Case?
Searching the Internet for attorneys can produce too many results to manage, but you can look at your state bar website for attorney directories or referral services.
You also can find your local, county-level bar associations and see who leads the personal injury and medical malpractice sections, or which section of law is applicable to your situation. Sometimes attorneys who cannot take a case themselves have a system in place to refer cases to other attorneys, sometimes for compensation.
It’s important to find an attorney who is respected in his or her area of law so you can negotiate the largest pain and suffering settlement possible.
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For example, if a person is involved in a car accident and suffers whiplash, a concussion, and a broken arm, their medical bills could total $5,000. Since the injuries are moderate, the insurance company might use a multiplier of 3 and offer a settlement of $15,000 for the pain and suffering component of the lawsuit.What is a typical amount of pain and suffering? ›
Typically, pain and suffering get based on a percentage of your special damages: usually between 1.5 and 5 times the special damages from your claim.How is pain and suffering calculated in the future? ›
Generally, pain and suffering awards will be calculated by adding up the economic damages and multiplying them by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injury.How do you negotiate a higher pain and suffering settlement? ›
- Document Your Losses. ...
- Calculate the Value of Your Pain and Suffering. ...
- Gather Evidence to Prove Liability. ...
- Send a Demand Letter to the Offender's Insurance Provider. ...
- You Can Seek Out a Lawyer If Your Case Becomes Too Challenging.
The result of a settlement agreement involves the responsible party paying a certain amount to compensate for the damages caused to the victim.What is acceptable pain? ›
Acceptable Level of Pain
If your loved one is happy at a pain level of 3, you wouldn't want to medicate them to the point of sedation to get them at a zero level of pain. On the other hand, some people try to tolerate pain levels above a 4, even though these levels of pain often reduce the quality of life.
One study found that people with severe pain spent $7,726 more on annual health care expenditures than people with no pain, which breaks down to an additional $644 per month.How can pain be valuable? ›
When our pain receptors are working effectively, pain is a useful way for our bodies to tell our brains when a stimulus is a threat to our overall well-being. However, sometimes pain stops playing a protective role.How is pain and suffering shown? ›
It can include effects like emotional distress, mental anguish, fear, anger, anxiety, shock, loss of the enjoyment of life and humiliation. Any type of negative emotion you feel after an accident can be attributed to mental pain and suffering. In some cases, mental pain and suffering are considered emotional distress.How is settlement amount calculated? ›
The general formula most insurers use to measure settlement worth is the following: (Special damages x multiplier reflecting general damages) + lost wages = settlement amount.
- Hold Onto Everything. ...
- Open an Insurance Claim in a Timely Manner. ...
- Estimate the Value of Your Claim Carefully. ...
- Write an Effective Demand Letter. ...
- Reject the Insurer's First Offer. ...
- Highlight Facts that Benefit You. ...
- Remain Calm During Negotiations. ...
- Hire a Lawyer to Help.
- Prepare Well for the Settlement Agreement Negotiation. ...
- Decide which negotiation tactics to use. ...
- Ask for a Protected Conversation with your Employer. ...
- Don't ask for too much. ...
- Don't ask for too little. ...
- Find out how the settlement payments will be taxed.
- Prepare well. ...
- Learn about pain and suffering. ...
- Keep your tone with the adjuster professional. ...
- Explain how the injury affected your life. ...
- Do not be shy. ...
- Tell the insurance adjuster how painful the whole experience was. ...
- Explain how painful the treatment was.
After you have settled it can take up to six weeks before you receive the check. Q: How long does it take for an insurance company to pay out a settlement? After the settlement is agreed they have up to 85 days to pay.How are large settlements paid? ›
Most settlements get paid through a check from the insurance company. You'll usually receive your funds from your lawyer after they've cleared the check and deducted any fees.How long does compensation take to pay out? ›
After accepting an offer of settlement for a personal injury claim you will usually receive your compensation money within 14-28 days from the date of settlement.What are the 7 characteristics of pain? ›
Patients should be asked to describe their pain in terms of the following characteristics: location, radiation, mode of onset, character, temporal pattern, exacerbating and relieving factors, and intensity.What are the 5 parameters of pain? ›
- P = Provocation/Palliation. What were you doing when the pain started? ...
- Q = Quality/Quantity. What does it feel like? ...
- R = Region/Radiation. Where is the pain located? ...
- S = Severity Scale. ...
- T = Timing. ...
Severe pain is defined as pain that interferes with some or all of the activities of daily living. May cause bed confinement or chair rest because of the severity. Typically doesn't go away, and treatment needs to be continuous for days, weeks, months, or years.What is the most painful chronic pain? ›
Trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or fifth cranial nerve. It is one of the most painful conditions known.
Pain level ten means unimaginable pain. This pain level is so intense you will go unconscious shortly. Most people have never experienced this level of pain. Those who have suffered a severe accident, such as a crushed hand, and lost consciousness due to the pain and not blood loss, have experienced level 10.What happens if you experience too much pain? ›
Chronic pain can interfere with your daily activities, such as working, having a social life and taking care of yourself or others. It can lead to depression, anxiety and trouble sleeping, which can make your pain worse. This response creates a cycle that's difficult to break.What are positive benefits of pain? ›
By providing an aversive contrast, pain can also improve the experience of events that follow pain's offset and lead to pleasant relief. Other potential benefits of pain derive from its ability to inhibit other unpleasant experiences and to elicit empathy and social support.When chronic pain becomes too much? ›
Attending counseling, practicing mindfulness, and getting help from chronic pain support groups are all useful resources when chronic pain becomes too much. Support groups can be particularly helpful when people living with chronic pain feel as though nobody else understands their struggle.What are 4 things that cause suffering and pain? ›
The poet lists a number of things that cause suffering and pain, such as despondency, depression, unhealthy and wrong ways taken up by humans to acquire their desired goals, etc. The poet also feels that there is a real dearth of noble souls in this world.What is an example of a physical pain? ›
For example, if you hit your elbow, stub your toe, twist your ankle, or fall and scrape up your knee, you may feel nociceptive pain. This type of pain is often experienced in the joints, muscles, skin, tendons, and bones. It can be both acute and chronic.What is an example of a suffering situation? ›
Examples of physical suffering are pain, illness, disability, hunger, poverty, and death. Examples of mental suffering are grief, hatred, frustration, heartbreak, guilt, humiliation, anxiety, loneliness, and self-pity.What is a good settlement figure? ›
How Much Should I Expect from a Settlement? A good settlement offer should not only be able to cover your hospital bills and legal fees, but it should also be equivalent to close to a years' worth of your current wages, especially in cases where your injuries may be permanent or cause some kind of disability.How much money should I ask for in a settlement? ›
To get a general idea of settlement, add up the costs in medical bills, damages, and lost wages, and multiply the sum by three. This may be around the amount in the settlement you can receive after a car accident. Compensation for pain and suffering is only given to those who are injured in a car accident.What is a good settlement percentage? ›
Most obligations settle between 30%-50% of the original value. If the debt collection agency is unwilling to accept any settlement, you may negotiate a payment plan with them. Payment plans can keep you out of court, and you won't need to fork over a large amount of cash at once.
Situations are typically defined by the physical elements of a location that helped determine it as good for settlement, which can include factors such as availability of building materials and water supply, the quality of soil, the climate of the region, and opportunities for shelters and defense — for this reason, ...Why do lawyers often try to negotiate a settlement? ›
Generally, it is best to negotiate rather than litigate if at all possible. Most disputes can be resolved if two people will just remain reasonable and try to bargain for an agreement. Doing so also has the benefit of avoiding expensive attorney fees and litigation costs.What not to say to insurance adjuster? ›
- Never Admit Fault. ...
- Don't Answer Questions About the Incident. ...
- Don't Give Information about Your Physical or Emotional Condition. ...
- Don't Accept the Initial Settlement Offer. ...
- Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney Today.
The average settlement negotiation takes one to three months once all relevant variables are presented. However, some settlements can take much longer to resolve. By partnering with skilled legal counsel, you can speed up the negotiation process and secure compensation faster.How do you politely ask for a full and final settlement? ›
If your employer does not arrange for a full and final settlement of your salary, you should request this by writing to the HR of the company through an Email or by postal letter.How do you respond to a low settlement offer? ›
- Stay Calm. Your first reaction to a low settlement might be anger and confusion. ...
- Ask Questions. After you receive the offer and take time to process it emotionally, you should start considering why the offer was so low. ...
- Counteroffer. ...
- Always Respond in Writing. ...
- Don't Accept a Settlement Offer Before You Heal.
Making a Pain and Suffering Claim on Your Own
In your demand letter, you should discuss your pain and suffering damages, supported by relevant documents and evidence. To prove pain and suffering, you must have evidence supporting your claim. You should obtain medical records and any police reports yourself.
- Organize your expenses. ...
- Establish the facts. ...
- Share your perspective. ...
- Detail your road to recovery. ...
- Acknowledge and emphasize your pain and suffering. ...
- Request a reasonable settlement amount. ...
- Review your letter and send it!
The phrase “pain and suffering” refers to a legal term that describes both the physical and emotional injuries suffered by a victim following an accident. Any substantial physical pain or mental anguish you suffer following an accident may qualify as pain and suffering for settlement purposes.Is settlement money taxable? ›
If you're involved in a lawsuit in California, you may be wondering whether any settlement or award you receive is taxable. The good news is that, in most cases, personal injury settlements are not taxable in California.
After settlement, your lender will draw down on your loan. This means that they'll debit the amount they've paid at settlement from your loan account. You're then responsible for paying land transfer duty or stamp duty. It's usually paid on the settlement date.How many days is the settlement period? ›
The settlement period is usually 30 to 90 days. Settlement is the date when you: pay the balance of the purchase price to the seller. get the property title and become the registered owner.What are the 3 types of damages? ›
There are 3 types of damages in personal injury claims: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.What is the biggest cash settlement? ›
1998 – The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement - $206 Billion. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was entered in November 1998 and is still the largest lawsuit settlement in history.What is the highest paid settlement? ›
Number 1: The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is also the biggest civil litigation settlement in US history. At USD246 billion, it is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. The case was brought against all the major tobacco companies by more than 40 US states.
Typically, it can take anywhere from one to two weeks for the insurance company to respond to your demand letter. Then it can take anywhere from weeks to months until you reach a settlement that you will accept. Some people accept the first or second offer, while others may accept the third or fourth counteroffer.How long does a compensation review take? ›
This step could take up to six to eight weeks, depending on the size of your organization. This information is usually embedded in the company handbook, and the deeper philosophy sits with the CEO or HR Heads. A compensation philosophy discusses the organization's compensation philosophy and how they reward employees.Does compensation mean getting paid? ›
Typically, compensation refers to monetary payment given to an individual in exchange for their services. In the workplace, compensation is what is earned by employees. It includes salary or wages in addition to commission and any incentives or perks that come with the given employee's position.Is there a cap on pain and suffering in Florida? ›
Florida does not have a cap on damages for pain and suffering personal injury claims. Relief for pain and suffering does depend on the type of personal injury case, the extent of the damages, and circumstances surrounding the accident.How much can you get for pain and suffering in Florida? ›
Generally speaking, there is no cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded for general pain and suffering in Florida. However, if the lawsuit involves medical malpractice, then there is a limit of $500,000 that can be awarded.
As Georgia doesn't put a monetary cap on pain and suffering damages, the “multiplier method” is a common technique to calculating the cost for pain and suffering. With this mathematical approach, the cost of one's medical bills is calculated and then multiplied by a value between 1 and 5.What pain level is considered severe? ›
There are many different kinds of pain scales, but a common one is a numerical scale from 0 to 10. Here, 0 means you have no pain; one to three means mild pain; four to seven is considered moderate pain; eight and above is severe pain.What is the number 1 worst pain a human can feel? ›
The full list, in no particular order, is as follows: Shingles. Cluster headaches. Frozen shoulder.What are the top 3 most painful things? ›
- Cluster headaches.
- Frozen shoulder.
- Broken bones.
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Heart attack.
- Slipped disc.
- Sickle cell disease.
The phrase “pain and suffering” refers to a legal term that describes both the physical and emotional injuries suffered by a victim following an accident. Any substantial physical pain or mental anguish you suffer following an accident may qualify as pain and suffering for settlement purposes.What is considered a permanent injury in Florida? ›
Under Florida's no-fault law, which is §627.737, subsection two, a permanent injury is: a) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; b) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; c) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; ...Does workers comp pay for pain and suffering in Florida? ›
Workers' comp does not include benefits for a worker's pain and suffering damages. These non-economic damages could be recovered in a personal injury claim against an employer.What is the average settlement for car accident pain and suffering in Florida? ›
According to the car accident settlement examples listed on this page, the average Florida car accident settlement is anywhere from $300,000 to $6,100,000. Settlements depend greatly on the unique circumstances of each case which is why there is no accurate average settlement amount for car accidents in Florida.Can you sue for emotional distress in Florida? ›
If your employer retaliates or refuses to take corrective action, you can and should file a Florida lawsuit against your employer. U.S. Courts have long held that employees can sue their employers for emotional distress if they are responsible for that distress through action or irresponsible inaction.How much is personal injury settlement in Florida? ›
The average number stated among Florida law resources for car accident settlements is anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 or more. As you can imagine, settlement amounts can vary depending on a wide range of factors.
In Georgia, pain and suffering is considered a broad range of physical or emotional effects the accident had on the victim and his or her family. This can include physical pain, mental anguish, no longer enjoying life, loss of health and vigor, not being able to work, and more.What is the average settlement for a car accident in Georgia? ›
Generally, one could expect minor collisions with minimal property damage and minor injuries to result in settlements between $2,500 and $25,000. For Accidents resulting in severe injuries, the range sits at anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000, or possibly more.Can you sue someone for emotional damage in Georgia? ›
Under Georgia law, a plaintiff cannot recover damages for emotional distress unless: The plaintiff sustained a physical impact in the incident, The physical impact caused physical injury to the plaintiff, AND. The physical injury also caused the plaintiff to suffer mental or emotional distress.