How is pain and suffering calculated in North Carolina_ - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Pain and suffering. It’s a phrase we hear often with personal injury claims. But what does it really mean and how do you calculate it?

Defining Pain and Suffering

In the legal world, “pain and suffering” refers to the combined physical and emotional damage sustained by an individual after an injury caused by another’s negligence.

Special versus General Damages

There are two types of “damages” measured after a car accident or personal injury. Special damages include: medical treatment costs (both past and anticipated future), lost wages, and any property damage (such as your vehicle). Special damages can be easier to calculate because the expenses have clear costs/concrete numbers.

General damages are more difficult to calculate. Pain and Suffering falls under general damages and can include mental distress, a physical disability caused by an accident, and measures of a lowered quality of life. Applying a monetary number to mental distress, or the pain of a sore neck, is a difficult task. An experienced attorney can help fight this battle to ensure that you are really getting what you need and deserve for your experience.

How do you prove pain and suffering?

Proving pain and suffering is difficult, but worth it. The party responsible for your injury will seek a lower number than what you likely deserve. Strong, detailed documentation will be one of the best ways to support a pain and suffering claim.

  1. Do not withhold anything from your care providers. It is often easier to focus on our physical well-being because our emotional and mental well-being is less visible. Nothing is too small to mention to a provider. It is important that you talk with your providers if you are experiencing any emotional distress after your injury, including fear, sleep changes, grief, depression, anxiety, or inconvenient barriers in your life. 
  2. Seek the support you need for your injuries, including counseling for mental distress if needed. If you have mentioned experiencing anxiety while driving to a few of your doctors and/or sought further support, your providers will have documented this. 
  3. Keep your own journal. Write a bit daily about the treatment you received that day, how you are feeling, what you are struggling with in your daily routines, and any physical or emotional pain you are experiencing. This documentation can support a legal claim for pain and suffering, and may also offer you an emotional outlet.

How does pain and suffering get calculated?

Many factors are considered when determining a quantifiable number for pain and suffering. A few of the most influential factors in determining your pain and suffering award include: the severity of your injuries, the types of treatment you are receiving, the effects your injuries have had on your daily routines and life, and any mental distress as a result of your injuries. There are two common methods that attempt to calculate pain and suffering.

The “Per Diem Method”

The Per Diem Method is an approach where the insurance company pays the victim a consistent, daily amount per day until they have fully recovered. The daily rate will be based on the documentation of your pain and suffering, including all factors that have been discussed.

The “Multiplier Method”

The Multiplier Method is perhaps more common than the Per Diem Method. Pain and suffering is calculated by multiplying the quantifiable medical bills by a number. The multiplier is determined by the severity of the injuries, as evidenced by all of the documentation available about your injuries, treatment, and overall impact. The multiplier is typically between 1 and 5.


Pain and suffering is hard enough to experience after an injury. When it comes to getting what you deserve financially, it can be an uphill battle that requires a great deal of legal knowledge and experience. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact Robert Armstrong today for a free case evaluation.