What is a Pain and Suffering Settlement?

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  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2020
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In law, if a party can be found legally negligent in causing an accident, the individual or individuals who were hurt may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to collect damages. The injured party may be able to request a pain and suffering settlement as part of the lawsuit's damages. Pain and suffering covers the emotional impact of being injured and the effects that the injury has on a person's quality of life.

In order to file a lawsuit, a party has to be found negligent, or found to have acted in a way contrary to what a "reasonable" person would have acted. The way that negligence is assigned varies from state to state. In some states, both the victim and the other party can be held partially responsible for an accident. In other states, the degree of negligence is not considered in ruling on the lawsuit.

Compensation for a personal injury lawsuit typically includes reimbursement for medical expenses. These expenses could include any surgical, hospital, or doctors' bills. The victim may also be compensated for costs of medication and physical therapy. In addition to medical compensation, the injured person may be eligible for lost wages.


A pain and suffering settlement is more difficult to determine than straight compensation for incurred medical expenses and pay losses. A number of intangibles come into consideration. For example, one person may have a significantly lower pain threshold than another.

Other factors are also considered when determining to a pain and suffering settlement. The injured person's age may be of importance. Future earning powers that are now lost can come into play. A person's overall health can have an effect on the pain and suffering settlement.

In addition to these considerations, a person can be reimbursed for not only the monetary losses and medical expenses associated with a lost arm or other physical disfigurement, the person may be entitled to compensation for the mental anguish that is associated with the medical condition. This can result in compensation for the inability to pursue activities, such as dancing or snowboarding, as in the past. A qualified attorney will be able to assess the merits of individual cases as each case is inherently unique.

In order to get a pain and suffering settlement as well as compensation for medical expenses, a personal injury lawsuit has to be filed within a legally defined period of time. This legally defined period of time is called a statute of limitations. Statute of limitations vary from state to state. For example, in Florida, a person has four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the incident.


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