How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Calculated in Car Accidents

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An important part of any car accident claim is pain and suffering. It represents ways that you suffer because of your injuries that are not economic.

Your injuries cause physical pain. These damages can be valued and included in your personal injury claim.

Once you know that you can receive compensation for your physical pain and suffering in a car accident, you need to know what it’s worth. How does the law value pain and suffering?

How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages in a Car Accident?

To calculate pain and suffering damages in a car accident, determine the value of pain, suffering, anguish, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life that the plaintiff has endured and will continue to endure because of the accident.

While there is no exact method for calculation, a rule of thumb is to use a multiplier of economic damages between one and five or a dollar amount per day that represents the value of suffering.

Is There a Formula for Pain and Suffering?

There is no exact formula for pain and suffering. It’s usually either a multiplier of the economic damages or a daily amount. In all cases, it is based on the severity of injuries and their impact on the victim’s life.

Nevada’s Law for Pain and Suffering in Car Accident Cases?

A summary of the Nevada law for pain and suffering in car accident cases is:

  • Pain and suffering is allowable compensation in Nevada car accident claims.
  • The jury decides the appropriate amount.
  • There’s no exact formula or calculation method that they must use. Instead, they determine what physical pain, mental pain, suffering, anguish, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life that the victim has had because of the accident.
  • For each case, the jury may include pain and suffering from the accident to the present date and pain and suffering that is expected to continue in the future.
  • As the jury decides the amount to award, the court instructs them to use their judgment and award a reasonable amount based on the evidence.
  • Nevada law does not place a cap on non-economic damages in a car accident case; the victim may receive the appropriate amount based on their actual suffering.
  • As part of proving their case, the victim must present the evidence of the amount of compensation that they deserve for pain and suffering.

Sources: Nevada Civil Jury Instructions 5.2; Canterino v. The Mirage Casino-Hotel, 117 Nev. 19, 16 P.3d 415 (2001)

Proving the Amount of Your Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident

Some of the ways that you can prove the amount of your pain and suffering from a car accident are:

  • Medical records that show the severity of your injuries
  • Explanations from medical professionals of how the injuries are likely to cause physical pain
  • Your testimony about limitations and what you endure from your injuries
  • Testimony from family, friends, and others who have observed you coping with your injuries
  • Information about physical therapy, rehabilitation, and the course of your improvement
  • Evidence from mental health professionals you have worked with. Things like anxiety, PTSD, and depression can illustrate the anguish that you are living with

Your injuries likely prevent you from living life normally and doing the things you used to do. They may interfere with your personal relationships. Testimony should focus on both what has already happened and how the suffering will continue in the future.

Is Expert Testimony Required for an Award of Future Pain and Suffering?

Expert testimony is required when the injury or disability is subjective rather than obvious. However, when the injury or disability is easy to see and observe, expert testimony is not required to award compensation for future pain and suffering.

See University & Community College System v. Sutton, 120 Nev. 972, 990 (2004) (footnote 44).

Is Loss of Enjoyment of Life a Type of Damages in Nevada Car Accident Cases?

In Banks ex rel. Banks v. Sunrise Hosp., 120 Nev. 822, 839 (2004), Nevada courts adopted loss of enjoyment of life as part of pain and suffering damages in car accident cases.

Can the court overturn a jury verdict for pain and suffering damages?

A court can overturn a jury award of pain and suffering damages. However, their right to do so is limited to situations where the jury award is “flagrantly improper.”

Determining the correct award for pain and suffering is a function of the jury. The award is not improper just because it is a significant amount. The court may reduce the award if passion and prejudice influence the jury’s verdict. This is a high standard to meet and an unusual outcome on appeal.

See Barrett v. Baird, 111 Nev. 1496, 1515 (1995).

Receiving a Fair Award for Pain and Suffering Damages in a Car Accident

To receive a fair award for pain and suffering damages in a car accident, you must have a realistic idea of the appropriate amount as you head into the claims process and negotiation with the insurance company.

If your case proceeds to trial, sufficient attention must be given to the question of pain and suffering such that it is at the forefront of the jury’s mind as they head into deliberations. Pain and suffering should be carefully evaluated, and the evidence must be crafted and presented to clearly explain to the jury what you are asking them to award in compensation.

Lawyers for Pain and Suffering Damages in a Car Accident

Do you want to receive fair pain and suffering damages for your car accident claim? At Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge representing accident victims, so let us represent you. Schedule an appointment with our team today.


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