(856) 424-6400

Understanding Damages for Pain and Suffering


When you’ve been injured because of someone else’s wrongful act, many of your losses are tangible, easy to calculate. If you’ve been unable to work, you know the extent of your lost wages and income. If you’ve incurred medical expenses that weren’t covered by insurance, or sustained damage to property, those losses are also relatively simple to calculate.

But there are other types of losses that are not so clear—the loss of enjoyment of things that you may not be able to do anymore because of the accident; the loss of companionship or consortium with a spouse or family member; and the pain and suffering caused by the accident.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

The first thing to understand about pain and suffering is that it can be manifested in two different ways—there’s physical pain and suffering, and there’s mental/emotional pain and suffering. Physical pain and suffering involves neural (or nerve-related) responses in your body. It can also, however, go beyond mere stimulus-response types of pain. For example, your injuries may cause a loss of mobility or dexterity, or may make it impossible for you to bend, stretch or flex, or even maintain your balance.

Emotional/mental pain and suffering comes in a variety of forms, including anxiety, depression, fear, anger and apathy. Emotional pain and suffering is often a by-product of physical injury or pain.

How Are Damages for Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Determining the value of damages for pain and suffering can be difficult, as everyone’s experience of pain is different. As a general rule, judges encourage juries to use common sense and good judgment when tallying damages for pain and suffering. However, many states, including New Jersey, have precedent that allows a jury to use a “multiplier” to calculate such damages. With this approach, the jury looks at the total amount of losses for medical expenses and lost wages and multiplies that number by an agreed up factor, which can range anywhere from double to ten times the amount or more, based on the level of negligence.

Contact the Law Offices of Howard N. Sobel

For professional and knowledgeable legal counsel with a personal approach, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-424-6400 to see if you qualify for a free initial consultation. We are available evenings and weekends upon request.

Named a New Jersey SuperLawyer Every Year Since 2008