When someone speaks with a personal injury lawyer about pursuing a case, it's normal to focus on compensation for medical bills and physical injuries. You certainly want to recover damages for those things. However, injury settlements and judgments also frequently include compensation for pain, suffering, and trauma.

Folks filing claims and lawsuits may wonder what counts, though. Take a look below at what pain, suffering, and trauma mean for personal injury law purposes.

Immediate Pain from the Incident

Foremost, a successful claimant is usually entitled to compensation for the immediate pain and suffering from an incident. Suppose a person broke their leg in a slip and fall. Worse, they broke it severely enough the bone popped through the skin. That victim would be able to seek compensation for the pain they experienced at that moment.

Pain and Suffering from Ongoing Issues

Similarly, a claimant may seek damages to cover continuing pain and suffering. If a person suffered brain trauma in an accident, they can claim compensation for headaches they keep having afterward.

Also, they may seek compensation for future suffering if the issues are unlikely to abate soon. If someone might suffer for the remainder of their life, the law allows them to demand compensation commensurate with many years of expected misery.


The experience of an accident can leave a person with lasting traumas that may inhibit their ability to live their life. If you can no longer comfortably go to a concert because you were injured by a stampeding crowd at a previous event, you may seek compensation for that loss.

Limitations on Non-Physical Claims

Some states have laws that restrict pain, suffering, and trauma claims to cases that involve physical injuries. Other states allow claims where a person wasn't physically injured but did suffer trauma due to the extremity of an incident. If you're not sure what the state laws are for your case, contact a personal injury attorney to find out.


Although the law doesn't explicitly require it, attorneys, insurance companies, and courts almost always use a multiplier system to calculate compensation for pain and suffering. The medical damages establish the baseline, and then the parties apply the multiplier to calculate damages for pain, suffering, and trauma.

Typical damages multipliers go from 1.5 to 5. A multiplier of 5 is reserved for lifelong or life-altering injuries, and the multiplier goes down for cases involving less severe or permanent injuries.

For more information, reach out to a personal injury lawyer near you.