How Are Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Car Accident?

Jan 18, 2022 | Auto Accidents

Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Car Accident


If you’ve suffered an injury due to a car accident, the courts might order the other party to compensate you for the suffering you’ve endured due to their negligence. The challenging part about pain and suffering payments is that there is no law outlining how these payments should be calculated.

That’s because pain and suffering are relative experiences and difficult to quantify. Some people use a calculation based on your medical expenses. But medical expenses do not tell the full story. For example, a traumatic brain injury could impact your memory but there is little a medical professional can do to help you heal from this injury. So the lifeline impacts are serious, but the medical bills are mild. That’s why calculations based on medical bills don’t work very well.

Pain and suffering payments vary based on evidence in your case as well as how persuasive your lawyer is. Learn more about factors in pain and suffering calculations following a car accident.

Examples of Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering can be physical or emotional challenges due to another person or entity’s negligence. Here are some examples of pain and suffering:

  • Daily life complications
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Loss of a bodily function
  • Disfigurement, including scars, amputation, or burns
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Long-term disability
  • Physical limitations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Fear
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Changes to sleep
  • Mood swings

Every person may experience pain and suffering differently based on their life circumstances and how an injury impacts them. That’s what makes determining these payments so challenging.

Factors in Determining Pain and Suffering Payments

No one else went through what you did after the car accident so it’s challenging for these outside individuals to know for certain just how much pain you experienced. However, some factors can help the court in understanding your pain.

  • The injuries you suffered
  • Nature of the injuries sustained
  • Pain severity
  • Pain duration
  • Recovery time
  • How prominent scarring or disfigurement is
  • Need for future or ongoing medical care
  • Victim’s age at the time of the accident

How the Courts Calculate Pain and Suffering

With no specific law or formula for calculating pain and suffering payments, the courts use models to put together the elements of your case and how strong the evidence is to determine pain and suffering payments.

These payments are subjective and generally use historic data from cases in your area that are similar to yours.

In Virginia, when the courts assess your pain and suffering payments, they will also factor in contributory negligence. Virginia uses a pure contributory negligence rule, which means if you are guilty of even one percent of the accident, you can’t recover damages for it.

Example of Pain and Suffering Example

While there’s no way to know for certain what the courts will award for pain and suffering after an accident, there are several elements you can be certain of. Here are some things an attorney might present when arguing pain in suffering. 

Injuries: Broken arm, concussion, and scarring on the left forearm. 

Pain and suffering evidence: Expert medical opinion, witness testimony from a mental health professional, and proof of ongoing mental challenges from the concussion.”

Although there is no way to be certain what the courts will award you for pain and suffering in a car accident case, hiring a qualified personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure fair compensation for your injuries and ensure you don’t lose the right to sue based on contributory negligence laws. Contact Geoff McDonald & Associates now for a free consultation.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


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