What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering Damages and How is It Calculated?

Category: Personal Injury

Article by Tuley Law staff

What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering Damages and How is It Calculated?

How much could I receive for pain and suffering? Sadly, the unsatisfactory answer is always “it depends.” There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. 

Calculating pain and suffering damages can vary depending on the case’s specifics. However, there are some factors that courts often consider when calculating these damages. Some of these factors include the severity of the injury, its impact on the victim’s life, and any medical expenses or other financial losses incurred due to the injury.

This blog will give you an overview of what could be considered pain and suffering and methods of calculating the damages. 

What Constitutes Pain And Suffering?

“Pain and suffering” refers to the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury or loss.

Pain and suffering lawsuits can be very difficult to win in court, so we recommend consulting with an expert personal injury attorney at Tuley Law Office to determine whether you should pursue pain and suffering in your case. 

Keep in mind that in some cases there are caps on the recovery of damages in Indiana. For example, in medical malpractice cases, the damages for non-economic losses are capped at $1.8  million. 

Here are some common conditions categorized as emotional pain and suffering and physical pain and suffering that can qualify for pain and suffering damages. 

Emotional Pain and Suffering 


Depression can be a severe condition that can significantly affect how a person feels, acts, or thinks. If a person is significantly affected by an accident or altercation in this way, they may be eligible to recover compensation for depression in a personal injury claim.   


Sorrow can be incredibly debilitating and make it difficult for an injured person to return to normal life. If you have lost a loved one in an accident or altercation, you may be able to recover damages under this category.


In a pain and suffering case, apprehension is defined as the worry or fear linked with the possibility of future pain and suffering. This may include anxiety about the severity of the injuries, the treatments that will be needed, and the impact that the injuries will have on the person’s life. 

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If you have been injured and are unable to participate in the activities that you once did, you may be able to receive compensation for your loss of enjoyment of life. The damages from an event that severely alters a person’s life or ability to participate in activities or hobbies can be significant. 

Loss of Companionship 

This can refer to the loss of the ability to show affection, care, or security, or it can result from an accident that leaves someone deprived of the benefits of married life or parenting.


Feeling humiliated can be a very powerful feeling, and can be incredibly intense if caused by an accident or altercation. If you feel like you have been disgraced, belittled, or made to look foolish, you may have experienced humiliation.


Non-economic damages for indignity typically involve insults or damage to a person’s dignity or self-respect. This can be a  disgrace, vulgarity, ill-treatment, abusive language, or intentional disrespect.

Mental Suffering

This category can include a variety of negative emotions such as distress, anxiety, grief, and depression. These feelings may be caused by an accident or event that leaves lasting emotional trauma. If you are suffering from mental anguish, you may be able to receive damages for your pain and suffering.


This category is a type of pain and suffering that can occur if a person exhibits symptoms like worry, nervousness, or unease. It can result from an accident, altercation, or other incidents. 


If an accident, incident, or injury causes sudden and extreme fear or terror that severely impacts your life, you may be able to receive compensation for fright. This can often even be considered a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some common causes of fright include accidents, attacks, or assaults. 


This is a form of psychological injury. It can be caused by an accident, event, or injury a person sustains. Witnessing an accident can also cause shock. It is a form of non-economic damage in a claim.


Non-economic damages for anger can be claimed if an accident or interaction causes severe mental pain and suffering. This type of loss may be claimed if the anger was not present before the accident..

Emotional distress 

This is a term used to describe a wide range of negative feelings. An accident or other traumatic event can cause this type of pain and suffering.


This category refers to the feeling of shame, wounded pride, or extreme embarrassment that comes after an accident, incident, or even false imprisonment. Suppose a person feels ashamed or extremely embarrassed after a life-changing event. In that case, they may be able to pursue damages under this category. This type of emotional distress can be incredibly mentally and emotionally damaging. It can often lead to long-term problems such as depression and anxiety.


If an accident or altercation causes unnatural or acute nervousness, you could be entitled to a claim. This could include feelings of fear, anxiety, and even panic. 


Embarrassment is a feeling of shame or disgrace that can be due to physical or mental anguish. It can be a type of pain and suffering that is cited in a claim.


Under the definition of terror, a person with an extreme fear of injury, disability, or death due to an accident that impacts their life can pursue non-economic damages. This fear may be so great that it impacts their daily life and ability to function.


This category can be a type of pain and suffering that is caused by an accident or event. You can cite inconvenience as a reason for pain and suffering when the accident or event jeopardizes your daily activities, business, or relationships with loved ones, causes hardship or injustice, or interferes with such activities. 

Physical Pain and Suffering 


This category is a type of personal injury that results from an accident. This can include permanent damage to the body, such as physical appearance changes, scarring, and other disfigurements. 

Physical Impairment

If you sustain an injury that limits your ability to move, coordinate actions, or perform daily living activities, you may be able to pursue damages for physical impairment. Physical impairment can be incredibly debilitating and significantly impact your quality of life. 

Physical pain 

Physical pain is often a debilitating experience. If you are in pain as a result of an accident or altercation, you may be able to pursue damages from the person or party responsible.

Loss of quality of life 

This category is a reduction in a person’s ability to enjoy or engage in life as they did prior to an event or accident. This can be due to physical or emotional injuries and can significantly alter a person’s day-to-day life.

Sexual dysfunction 

This category can refer to a physical inability to engage in sexual activity, an aversion to sex, or a lack of interest in sex. An accident, altercation, or other incidents can cause a person to have difficulty returning to their normal level of sexual activity with their spouse or partner. You may be able to cite sexual dysfunction as a type of non-economic damage in this case. 

How Do I Calculate My Pain And Suffering Damages?

Calculating your pain in suffering is always complex. When calculating pain and suffering damages, juries are given a good deal of leeway to determine an appropriate amount. A court will not usually reduce the amount awarded unless it is clearly excessive. This allows jurors to take into account all of the circumstances of the case when awarding damages.

When calculating pain and suffering damages, jurors generally consider the severity of the injury, the amount and type of medication needed to treat the injury, the length of recovery time, and the permanency of the injury. They may also consider the strength of evidence in order to determine how much money to award. The following methods to determine pain and suffering are not exclusive but are commonly seen. 

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is one way that some personal injury attorneys and insurance adjusters use to calculate pain and suffering damages. This method involves taking the total amount of economic damages (e.g. medical expenses, lost wages) and multiplying it by a number (the “multiplier”) to arrive at an estimate of the amount of non-economic damages (e.g. pain and suffering) that should be awarded.

The multiplier is typically between 1 and 5, though it can be any number, with the number chosen depending on the severity of the injury, the length of recovery time, and the permanency of the injury. For example, if the economic damages are $10,000 and the multiplier is 3, the total damages awarded would be $30,000, with $10,000 for economic damages and $20,000 for non-economic damages.

Additionally, it is important to understand that the multiplier method is not a scientific or precise method, it is more of a guideline used to help estimate pain and suffering damages based on economic damages. It is ultimately up to the jury to decide the final amount of damages to award in a personal injury case.

Per Diem Method 

The per diem method is a way to calculate pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case by assigning a set dollar amount for each day that the plaintiff experienced pain and suffering as a result of the accident. 

Under this method, the plaintiff would present evidence of the number of days they experienced pain and suffering, and the court would multiply that number by a set dollar amount. This dollar amount, called the “per diem,” is usually determined by the attorney or the court and can be based on factors such as the plaintiff’s income, the severity of the injury, and the length of recovery time.

For example, if the per diem is $100, and the plaintiff experienced pain and suffering for 100 days, the damages awarded would be $10,000.

Reach Out to the Personal Injury Lawyers at Tuley Law Office

If you or a loved one are experiencing pain and suffering as a result of another person, your main priority should be contacting a personal injury attorney. 

The legal team at Tuley Law has decades of experience in helping those with pain and suffering claims. Begin the process of obtaining full compensation for your losses. Contact us today at no cost for an evaluation by calling (812) 625-2113.

Have questions about your case?

Contact us