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How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in an Illinois Personal Injury Case?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury


The effects of an accident can extend far beyond your medical bills and lost wages. While in recovery, you may not be able to care for your family, and basic daily activities can become extremely difficult or even impossible. You may have difficulty sleeping or be generally debilitated. In short, your pain and suffering may leave you unable to live your day-to-day life.

At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. we know that your injury can change your life forever. We believe that you are entitled to be made whole, which includes the pain and suffering you have endured in addition to your lost wages and medical bills. As a result, we provide our clients with aggressive legal representation to get the compensation they deserve. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with your Illinois personal injury case, call us at (312) 236-2900 or our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Pain and Suffering Defined

While the phrase “pain and suffering” may be obvious on its face, it’s important to understand that it has a specific use in the context of a personal injury claim. “Pain and suffering” refers to any physical and/or emotional distress caused by a physical injury. Pain is the physical discomfort you experience as a result of your injury. Suffering is the emotional or psychological harm that you suffer. Suffering can include diagnosable conditions such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, but also general sadness, frustration, or anger.

Furthermore, pain and suffering are often referred to as “non-economic” damages (and sometimes as “general damages”). Economic damages are those losses that have a specific, identifiable dollar amount, such as medical bills or lost wages.

Pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages because they do not have a specific economic value. While your pain and suffering are very real, they are also subjective in nature – it’s difficult for anyone but you to know the total extent of what you are going through.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Your Case

It is a popular misconception that pain and suffering is simply a random dollar amount set forth in an attempt to get rich. While there is no set formula in Illinois personal injury cases for determining the compensation you are entitled to, there are different methods that your attorney, the jury, or the insurance company may use to assign a value to your claim for pain and suffering.

Factors Used in Evaluating Pain and Suffering

Generally speaking, the following factors will be used in determining your claim for pain and suffering:

  • The nature and extent of your injuries
  • Impact on your job or career
  • Impact on daily living activities
  • Loss of enjoyment in hobbies or other recreational activities
  • Whether your injuries are permanent
  • Whether you suffered any disfigurement
  • Whether your injuries will require future care or medical treatment
  • Overall pain and discomfort

As a general rule, the more severe your injury, the greater the potential value of your claim for pain and suffering. The pain and suffering associated with a spinal cord injury that resulted in permanent paralysis would be greater than the pain and suffering caused by a broken leg.

Multiplier Method

Because it can be difficult to assign a specific value to pain and suffering, a multiplier is then used to estimate the value of your claim. Depending on the severity of your injury, it will be assigned a factor between one and five, with one being for the least severe injuries and five being the most severe. The factor is then applied to the total value of your economic losses.

For example, let’s say that you were in a car accident and suffered a compound fracture in your leg. It cost you $25,000 for treatment and physical therapy and you lost $1,000 in income as a result. Because you now will walk with a permanent limp, let’s assign a factor of 4 to your injuries. We would then calculate your claim for pain and suffering as follows:

$25,000 in medical losses + $1,000 in lost wages = $26,000 in economic losses
$26,000 x 4 = $104,000 in pain and suffering

This is just an example – the calculation is unique to each specific case.

Per Diem Basis

In some cases, it may be appropriate to determine the value of your pain and suffering on a daily basis. In those cases, your attorney will assign a per diem estimate of your pain and suffering and then multiply it by the number of days you were suffering from your injuries.

Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney to Understand the Value of Your Claim

All of this may sound very simple, but the reality is unfortunately much more complicated. Your insurance company will likely dispute the value of your claim, and if you have to go to court, you will need to persuade a jury that you are entitled to the full value of your losses. This is extremely difficult for non-lawyers to accomplish, but the good news is that you don’t have to pursue your claim alone. The personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. will fight to make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to so that you can rebuild your life. Call us today at (312) 236-2900 or our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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