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How To Calculate Compensation for Pain and Suffering

Seth Harris

Last modified on June 6, 2023

When we talk about accidents, our minds often rush toward visible injuries – broken bones, cuts, bruises, etc. But what about the pain and suffering that comes along with these physical injuries? That’s harder to see and measure but just as real, if not more so. The sleepless nights, the mental distress, the life-altering changes — it’s a storm you didn’t ask for and certainly didn’t see coming.

Understanding how to calculate compensation for pain and suffering after an accident can seem like trying to navigate a maze with no map. But don’t worry; we’re here to help. This guide will shed light on this often misunderstood aspect of personal injury law in New York, helping you understand what compensation you’re entitled to and how to secure it. It’s not about dollar signs – it’s about acknowledging the depth of your experience and striving for the justice you deserve. Let’s begin.

What Does ‘Pain and Suffering’ Mean in a Personal Injury Claim?

In the world of personal injury claims, “pain and suffering” is a term you’ll come across quite often. But what does it actually mean? Essentially, it refers to the non-economic damages you’ve endured from an accident. Non-economic damages might sound like a cold phrase, but it’s far from that. It’s a way to describe the emotional, psychological, and physical hardships that don’t have an immediate price tag but still significantly impact your life after an injury.

“Pain” in this context refers to both physical discomfort and a broader range of physical issues. It could be the agony of a broken leg, the consistent throbbing headache following a concussion, or the chronic back pain from a slip and fall incident.

“Suffering,” on the other hand, usually refers to the emotional and psychological distress related to the accident and your injuries. Anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, fear – these are all types of suffering you might experience after a traumatic event. Perhaps you’ve developed a fear of driving after a car accident or are dealing with the emotional trauma of disfigurement. If so, the law says you can seek compensation for this harm you’ve suffered.

What Types of Damages Are Awarded for Pain and Suffering?

When it comes to personal injury cases, compensation for pain and suffering falls into the category of “non-economic damages.” Here’s a closer look at the type of non-economic damages you could receive for pain and suffering:

  • Physical Pain and Suffering: This is compensation for any physical pain you’ve experienced due to your injuries. It can cover pain felt since the accident and the pain you might suffer in the future.
  • Emotional and Psychological Distress: Accidents can take a severe toll on your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or sleep disturbances. Emotional distress damages aim to compensate for this.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If your injuries prevent you from enjoying day-to-day activities or hobbies you once loved — like playing with your kids, cooking, or running — you could receive damages for loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of Consortium: In legal terms, loss of consortium refers to the negative effects an accident and subsequent injuries have on your relationship with your spouse. It can encompass loss of companionship, affection, comfort, and sexual relations.
  • Disfigurement and Physical Impairment: If your accident resulted in scarring, disfigurement, or a long-term physical limitation, you might recover damages to compensate for the mental distress these changes bring.

How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Claim?

Proving pain and suffering can seem challenging, as these experiences are often personal and subjective. However, there are certain kinds of evidence you can use to substantiate your pain and suffering from an accident, such as:

How to Calculate Compensation for Pain and Suffering

Calculating compensation for pain and suffering isn’t an exact science, and the method used can vary across cases. However, one commonly used approach is the “multiplier method.”

The first step in the multiplier method is to add up all your economic damages. These are the concrete, quantifiable losses you’ve experienced, like medical expenses and lost wages.

A multiplier is then applied to this number, which can range from 1.5 to 5 or more, based on the severity and impact of your injuries. Finally, the total economic damages are multiplied by the chosen number to reach a compensation figure for pain and suffering.

For instance, if your total economic damages are $50,000 and a multiplier of 3 is deemed appropriate due to the severity of your injuries, your pain and suffering compensation would be calculated as $50,000 x 3. In other words, you would receive $150,000 in compensation for your pain and suffering.

Because of the complexities involved in calculating non-economic, it’s crucial to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. They can guide you through the process and assist you in pursuing compensation for your pain and suffering. Call 800-724-6529 today or complete our contact form for a complimentary consultation.

Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

What our clients have to say

I am not a client. Just a commuter. What is your advertisement? Fire your marketing manager asap. “Yo, pain law, yo” what is that? 1 start for horrible marketing. Sorry. Job you do is serious and isn’t a joke.
david Santiagodavid Santiago
18:05 21 Mar 24
Maria RoqueMaria Roque
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Excellent person, very Professional, they assist you in any language, your call is always answered. I recommend you for any case of support you have, your refund is satisfactory. and fast
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I am completely satisfied, and recommend Harris Keenan & Goldfarb as Attorneys to represent anyone. Their care for me physically, and overall helped me stay strong in spite of my injuries. Always available to answer questions, and inform.They got me Justice, and achieved a substantial outcome for my case.I am very impressed, and thankful for their outstanding performance on my behalf.I am very pleased, and significantly satisfied with their representation.‐-Sherylon Wilkins
Robert LennonRobert Lennon
15:26 21 Feb 24
Patient and diligence is how I describe the effort of HKG the work was thorough, honest and fair, I have no complaints. Special thanks to attorney Blake and his paralegal Thierry.
Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
17:52 08 Jan 24
I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
16:02 08 Jan 24
My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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