Determining the Value of My Pain and Suffering After a Car Accident

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on July 11, 2019 and updated on March 6, 2022.

woman sufferingAn accident may leave you with more damage than medical bills and vehicle repairs. Your mental health may never be the same after experiencing a severe accident. Below, we discuss the different methods used to calculate pain and suffering and the evidence you need to support it so that you can pursue compensation.

Do not hesitate to contact the experienced team at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices for help with your claim. During a free, no obligation consultation, we will determine if you have grounds to pursue compensation for pain and suffering.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional pain that you sustained as a result of the injuries. It includes such factors as:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • The loss of enjoyment of life
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Insomnia
  • Inconvenience

How to Calculate Pain and Suffering

Insurance adjusters are not required to use any particular method to determine the value of pain and suffering. These damages are subjective in nature, so two different adjusters may arrive at different potential values. If the case goes to trial, juries are often told to consider how they would value their own pain and suffering in that particular situation.

Below, we discuss the two common methods used to calculate pain and suffering.

Multiplier Method

The most common way to determine the value of pain and suffering is to multiply your other damages (like medical expenses) by a multiplier. Multipliers between one and five are common. For example, if you had $50,000 of medical expenses and a 1.5 multiplier was used, your pain and suffering would be valued at $75,000. Higher multipliers are usually used when the injury is more severe.

Per Diem

The per diem method assigns a certain daily rate for your pain and suffering and multiplies this amount by the days of your recovery period. For example, if the per diem value for pain and suffering is $1,000 and the plaintiff endured pain and suffering for 30 days, this aspect of his or her claim would be worth $30,000.


For either of these methods, the most important figure is the value of the multiplier or the per diem amount. This number may be higher if any of the following are present:

  • The victim had to undergo painful or invasive medical procedures
  • The accident resulted in disfigurement or impairment of a major bodily function
  • The damages are well documented
  • The accident caused mental trauma
  • The injury was severe
  • The recovery period was long
  • The injury was permanent or long-lasting
  • Aggravating factors are present, such as the at-fault driver being intoxicated

The number may be lower if any of the following factors are present:

  • The victim had a pre-existing injury
  • The victim had a history of filing multiple claims
  • The victim contributed to the accident
  • The injury was not severe
  • The recovery period was short
  • The victim will not make a good witness
  • The victim received unnecessary treatment

Evidence You Can Use to Support Pain and Suffering

It is helpful if you have objective evidence to help support your pain, such as:

  • Medical records – Your medical records can document your injuries. Imaging tests or X-rays may show your injury in a more objective format. Your medical records will also indicate why you sought treatment, your treatment plan and your response to treatment. You may also have medical records that discuss the emotional or mental impact of your injury, such as notes from a psychiatrist or psychologist.
  • Photos – Sometimes pictures speak a thousand words. This is true of personal injuries. A picture can show how you were injured and how your injury changed over time.
  • Pain journal – Your personal injury lawyer might recommend that you keep a journal of your pain and other symptoms as you recover from your injury.
  • Reports from friends, family and coworkers – Your friends and family may be able to testify about how the injury impacted your daily life and relationships. Coworkers may explain that you had to limit activity at work or were laid off because you could no longer perform the essential functions of your job.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer to Help You with Your Claim

If you were injured in an accident and would like a detailed review of the potential value of your claim, you need a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer on your side. The experienced personal injury team at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices can help you fight for a fair settlement for your pain and suffering and other damages.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.