What is Pain and Suffering?

In the aftermath of an accident, the physical injuries are often visible and quantifiable, but the emotional and psychological trauma — what legal professionals refer to as “pain and suffering” — can be just as debilitating. This guide will explore what constitutes pain and suffering in a legal context, how it is evaluated, and the ways in which it affects your personal injury claim.

Understanding Pain and Suffering in Indiana Personal Injury Law

“Pain and suffering” refers to a range of injuries that a plaintiff might suffer as a result of an accident. These injuries can include physical pain, emotional distress, fear, insomnia, inconvenience, the loss of enjoyment of life, and the emotional response to the physical injuries and their impact on daily life. Unlike economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering damages are not easily quantifiable.

Legal Basis for Pain and Suffering

Indiana law recognizes the right of an injured party to recover damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering as long as it can be linked directly to the physical injuries sustained from the accident. The compensation aims to address the broader impact of injuries on an individual’s life and well-being.


My husband and I were involved in an auto accident. The driver that hit us was without a doubt at fault. In less than 2 days we were getting calls from the driver’s insurance company wanting us to accept 15% fault. The calls kept coming to try and push us into a settlement. We decided to get legal help and found Chris Wyant. Once Chris took over we felt a big load lifted. He is very knowledgeable, well prepared and makes everything so much easier to understand the process. Chris has a very diligent work ethic that gets results. We are so very grateful to have found Chris. We highly recommend Chris Wyant.”

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Unlike economic damages, which are tangible and quantified through bills and lost earnings, pain and suffering are subjective and do not have a fixed monetary value.

Methods for Calculating Pain and Suffering

In Indiana, like in many other places, there isn’t a strict formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering. However, two main methods are commonly utilized:

First, the Multiplier Method. This approach calculates pain and suffering by multiplying the total economic losses, which include medical bills and lost earnings, by a figure known as the “multiplier.” This number typically falls between 1 and 5, and it reflects the intensity, duration, and overall effects of the suffering endured. For example, a lesser injury might require a multiplier of 1 or 2, while a more significant, enduring injury might necessitate a higher multiplier.

Second, the Per Diem Method. This method involves assigning a specific monetary value to each day from the injury onset until the victim is deemed fully recovered medically. The daily rate might match the victim’s actual daily income or another appropriate figure that adequately represents the daily suffering endured.

Factors Influencing the Calculation

In calculating pain and suffering damages in a personal injury lawsuit, various factors play a crucial role. The severity of the injury is a primary consideration; more severe injuries typically lead to higher compensation for pain and suffering. The duration of recovery also significantly influences the calculation; injuries that are chronic or take a long time to heal can increase the multiplier used in the calculation or extend the period for daily compensation. Additionally, the impact of the injuries on daily life is considered, specifically how they affect the individual’s ability to enjoy life, perform everyday activities, and maintain relationships. Lastly, the psychological effects of the injuries, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are also taken into account, given that they often stem from traumatic experiences.

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Types of Evidence to Prove Pain and Suffering

While pain and suffering may not be as obvious and tangible as, say, a medical bill or a destroyed car, there are evidential ways to establish pain and suffering.

Medical Documentation

Medical documentation is essential in thoroughly recording and understanding the effects of an injury. Comprehensive medical records should include detailed accounts of the injuries sustained, the treatments administered, medications prescribed, and any suggestions for physical or mental rehabilitation. These records are vital as they establish the connection between the accident and the resultant physical and emotional distress.

In addition to the medical records, expert testimony plays a crucial role. Healthcare providers, therapists, and possibly psychiatrists or psychologists can offer professional opinions on the severity of your injuries and their potential long-term effects on both your physical and mental health. Their testimonies provide deeper insight into the medical complexities and prognosis of your condition.

Personal Documentation

Maintaining a pain diary involves making daily entries to track pain intensity, emotional well-being, and the extent to which injuries interfere with day-to-day activities. This practice offers a structured, chronological narrative of an individual’s suffering. Additionally, taking photographs and videos serves as a compelling form of visual documentation, illustrating the severity and ongoing impact of the injuries. This visual evidence can effectively convey the profound effects of one’s pain and suffering.

Testimonials from Witnesses

Statements from family and friends can be particularly impactful. Those closest to you are well-placed to discuss any alterations in your behavior, mood, and everyday activities following the accident, thereby supporting your claims of pain and suffering. Similarly, your co-workers and employers can offer valuable perspectives on the ways your injuries have impacted your professional life and capabilities.

Legal Strategies for Presenting Your Case

Legal strategies to present your case for pain and suffering can take various forms. For instance, a personal injury attorney from firms like Wyant Law might leverage a combination of tactics to compellingly advocate for your situation.

One approach involves correlating medical evidence with personal testimony. This entails aligning detailed medical records with personal diaries and testimonies to construct a strong narrative outlining how your injuries have significantly contributed to pain and suffering.

Another effective strategy is the use of expert witnesses. These professionals, often from medical or psychological backgrounds, can provide credible and expert opinions that bolster the seriousness of your condition. Their testimony can emphasize the impact of your injuries on your mental and emotional well-being, adding weight to your case.

Additionally, demonstrating the daily impact of your injuries can be instrumental. Providing specific examples of how your injuries have affected your daily routines, relationships, and overall quality of life can vividly illustrate the depth of your suffering. This approach can resonate with a jury or insurance adjuster, helping them understand the profound consequences of the incident.

Challenges in Proving Pain and Suffering

Proving pain and suffering can be challenging due to its subjective nature. Every individual experiences and tolerates pain differently, which can lead to skepticism from insurers or juries. Therefore, the consistency and credibility of your evidence are paramount.

Attorney Christopher Wyant is here to help you. 

With over 17 years of experience, Attorney Wyant has spent his entire legal career representing individuals who have been injured or killed as a result of the carelessness of others. With trial experience in over 20 jury trials, he has handled cases involving wrongful death and personal injury arising out of automobile crashes, premises liability, slips and falls, dog attacks, and civil rights violations.

The Elements of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana, a plaintiff must convincingly establish the following four elements:

Duty of Care

The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. This means there was a legal obligation to act with a certain level of caution and attention to avoid causing harm to others. For example, drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and operate their vehicles safely.

Breach of Duty

The defendant breached this duty of care. A breach occurs when the defendant fails to meet the expected standard of care. For instance, if a driver was speeding or driving under the influence, that would constitute a breach of their duty.


There must be a direct causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the injury sustained by the plaintiff. This means showing that the injury would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s negligence.


The plaintiff suffered actual damages because of the breach. These can be physical, financial, or emotional. The existence of damages is crucial; without harm, there is no basis for a claim, regardless of the negligence involved.

Types of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Lawsuits

In a successful personal injury lawsuit, several types of damages may be awarded to compensate the victim for their losses. These damages are categorized into three main types:

Economic Damages

These are the quantifiable losses suffered by the plaintiff. They include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and other out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury.

Non-Economic Damages

These are more subjective and compensate for non-financial aspects of harm suffered due to the injury. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. These are not meant to compensate the plaintiff but rather to punish the defendant for particularly reckless or malicious behavior and to deter similar conduct in the future.

Getting Justice for Your Pain and Suffering

The intricacies of claiming pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit is crucial for anyone who has suffered due to another’s negligence. It’s not just about being compensated for the physical injuries, but also for the emotional and psychological toll that an accident can have on your life. At Wyant Law, we recognize the profound impact that such experiences can have on your well-being and your future.

If you or someone you know is grappling with the consequences of a personal injury and needs legal guidance on how to ensure that all aspects of pain and suffering are thoroughly addressed, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our dedicated team is committed to providing compassionate and competent legal representation to help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Contact Wyant Law today for a free consultation and let us help you on your journey to recovery and justice. We stand ready to advocate for your rights and bring our experience and passion to bear in achieving the best possible outcome for your case.