Assessing Pain and Suffering in Car Accident Cases

Assessing Pain and Suffering in Car Accident Cases

When you file a claim in a car accident case, you can often include pain and suffering in the list of damages to be compensated. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to rate and give a monetary value to pain and suffering. There is no set formula, so each court case is unique.

A doctor can observe the symptoms of pain, such as limited ranges of motion in a joint, tenderness, and redness. However, every person reacts to different levels of pain in their own way. One person may think that their pain warrants a trip to the emergency room while another might feel that that same level of pain is not worrisome.

General Damages

Assessing Pain and Suffering in Car Accident Cases is difficult for many reasons. Pain and suffering comes in two varieties, physical and mental. Both are considered “general damages” from a legal standpoint.

There can be some indicators of physical pain, since many conditions are recognized as being painful. For example, everyone knows that a broken bone hurts. Broken bones also lead to continued pain as the bone is set and heals. Extreme cases may even require internal structures such as pins and screws. There can be some loss of quality of life from pain such as this, since work and other activities are missed and mental anguish is experienced.

On the other hand, it’s more difficult to see other injuries. Soft tissue damage can be hard to spot. Bruises and cuts help with identification but do not always appear where pain exists. X-rays cannot help identify soft tissue damage, but anyone who has experienced a muscle strain or sprained ankle knows that the pain is very real all the same.

The Insurance Company’s Standpoint

Insurance companies do not exist to hand out money, so they require proof that pain and suffering exists before they will provide compensation. To an insurance company, if you didn’t go to a doctor, you’re not in enough pain to require payment. They also assume that injuries that require more medical treatment and take longer to recover are more painful. All of these assumptions affect how an insurance adjuster set value in a claim.

In order to avoid a situation where it’s your word against the insurance company, if you experience pain after a car accident, you should visit a doctor for medical corroboration. When a doctor takes note of how you describe your pain and what your examination reveals, the medical records are invaluable in court.

When you file a claim that includes pain and suffering, the insurance company will be able to see your medical records in order to conduct their evaluation. Visiting a doctor provides validity, since you probably took time off of work or school to do so.


Visits to the doctor aren’t the only pieces of information the insurance company will use to verify pain and suffering. The most important pieces of evidence include:

  • Medical records provided by a physician.
  • Medical bills throughout the recovery period.
  • Prescriptions records.
  • Photographs of injuries.
  • Receipts for over-the-counter medication.
  • Employer documentation for loss of work.


You should take care to save and organize all such evidence. If you have any further questions concerning personal injury cases involving pain and suffering, call Grennier Law, PC today at 805-643-3900.