Request a Free Consultation

Pain and Suffering: A Legal Definition

Updated February 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

There are two separate forms of compensatory damages in personal injury and car accident cases: special damages and general damages.

Special damages are also known as economic damages because they have a number linked to them. They hold a specific cost that will be easily covered if you can prove fault in your injury lawsuit. General damages, on the other hand, are non-economic. This means that they don’t come with a predetermined value and must be assessed for the effects they have on someone’s life. Even after fault is proven, deciding the value of general damages is a crucial step that often requires the presence of a lawyer.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a catch-all term for a wide range of physical and emotional consequences of an accident. You may be able to receive compensation for these issues if you can prove their effects on your life. Medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and other costs are not included in pain and suffering damages.  Instead, pain and suffering includes things like physical pain experienced in the past and into the future from the injury, as well as mental anguish experienced in the past and into the future as a result of the event and/or injury.

Pain and Suffering Examples

This category of damages includes physical and emotional pain. Examples of physical pain and suffering include the following:

  • Long-term disability or impairment
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Present and future physical limitations
  • Complications to daily life
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Significant disfigurements, such as scars, amputations, or burns
  • Loss of bodily function

Here are some examples of emotional pain and suffering:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or things you used to do
  • Mood swings
  • Fear, anger, or humiliation

Causes of Pain and Suffering

Although these symptoms can result from almost any type of injury or accident, it’s essential to look at the specific factors that contribute to pain and suffering damages.  

Compensation may be available  if the pain and suffering is caused by the following:

  • Pain from the injury itself
  • Pain from surgery, physical therapy, or other necessary treatments
  • Ongoing or chronic pain, including future pain, caused by the injuries
  • Mental anguish about the pain or the effects an injury had on your future

In an injury case, it is critical to establish a link between the injuries sustained and your lasting mental or physical anguish.  You will not be able to recover compensation if your issues cannot be linked to the personal injury accident.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

Due to the subjective nature of pain and suffering damages, a legal professional may be necessary to recover proper damages for your sustained injuries. Many insurance companies will do everything they can to pay you less than you deserve. This could include putting some of the blame on you or minimizing the severity of your injuries. 

An experienced lawyer will fight for the compensation you deserve and prevent intimidation tactics from being used on you. Hire a WKW Indianapolis personal injury attorney for your legal needs.

What Determines a Pain and Suffering Settlement?

Here are some of the factors the involved parties will consider when determining the monetary value potentially attributed to your pain and suffering:

  • Types of injuries 
  • How long pain lasted
  • Severity of pain
  • Location and nature of scarring or disfigurement
  • Effect of the pain on the victim’s life
  • Recovery time
  • Anticipated future problems
  • Age of the victim at the time of injury
  • Evidence from attorney

One or more of these factors can play a significant role in determining how much financial compensation you may receive for your injuries.

Contact WKW for Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to pain and suffering compensation.  Reach out to the team at Wilson Kehoe Winingham for more information on the next steps you should take. We have decades of experience and access to innovative technology that will help us review your case. 

We’ve also seen enough cases to know how serious your accident can be later in life.

This means we understand how to properly fight for adequate benefits. We will not allow insurance companies to take advantage of you to protect their bottom line.  Plus we don’t charge you for anything unless you win, so there’s no risk of calling us. 

Call 317.886.1924 or fill out our online contact form today for a no-obligation case evaluation.

Contact Us

Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


Or, call us today at (317) 920-6400

Located In Indianapolis
Back to Top