What Is Pain and Suffering?

In the pursuit of justice, victims often take legal action through personal injury claims when they’ve suffered harm at the hands of another person or entity. Taking legal action not only allows a victim to get justice but also allows them to recover compensation for the financial losses they’ve endured.

A woman is lying in her bed as she pinches the bridge of her nose while in pain.

Common financial losses victims face after a personal injury include lost earnings and earning potential, property loss, the cost of medical bills, and other financial losses. These tangible, calculable losses are known as economic losses.

Like all other states, Florida law allows victims who file a personal injury lawsuit to recover other losses commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.” Compensation related to pain and suffering falls under what is known as non-economic damages. These damages are often difficult to calculate yet have real life-altering implications for a victim — or, in the cases of wrongful death, surviving family members.

At the law offices of Jack Bernstein in Tampa, Florida, our injury attorneys will thoroughly and fairly evaluate your case to determine if you have suffered an injury and have experienced pain and suffering.

Schedule your free case evaluation with legal experts you can trust. Contact our team today.

Understanding Pain and Suffering in Florida

What is pain and suffering? This is a question many victims have when pursuing legal action following an injury. Pain and suffering is an umbrella term that covers a variety of intangible losses victims and/or their loved ones might face following a personal injury. The Legal Information Institute defines pain and suffering as physical discomfort and emotional distress calculated by the compensation of non-economic damages. Though a wide-reaching definition, pain and suffering often apply when a victim is subjected to the following:

  • Physical pain from their injuries
  • Discomfort due to their injuries and the healing process
  • Anguish
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental and emotional trauma

Physical Anguish vs. Mental Anguish

Both physical and mental anguish fall under pain and suffering; however, distinguishing between the two is important as it can help you through the evidence-collection process. Physical anguish often refers to the physical pain following an injury, while mental anguish refers to struggles, including fright, anxiety, and feelings of distress that result from the accident. Often, mental anguish can be observed through the diagnoses of mental health struggles, including PTSD, depression, or anxiety.

What Is Florida’s Legal Standard for Serious Injuries?

Florida’s standard for a serious injury is defined in Florida Statute 627.737. Under this law, for a claim of pain and suffering to apply, a victim must have experienced one or all of the following:

  • Significant or permanent loss of the body’s regular function
  • A permanent state of injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
  • Significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement of the body
  • Death or endangerment of the victim’s life

Will Insurance Cover Pain and Suffering?

In most cases, regardless of the type of injury or even how it was obtained, if an insurance company is involved, the liable party’s insurance company can be held responsible for any damages, including pain and suffering.

Whether it’s the insurance company of a business or an automotive insurance company, all insurance companies will attempt to minimize liability to minimize your claim of pain and suffering.

One way victims can combat this is by seeking the support of an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer often offers the best chance at a successful claim that results in a comprehensive settlement agreement.

Personal injury attorneys know the right questions to ask, how to counter denial of liability, and, more importantly, how to advocate for your rights and negotiate the compensation you may be entitled to.

An attorney can also help with complex cases. For example, if you are injured because of a negligent driver and the negligent driver either drove off or does not have insurance, then it can be difficult to pursue damages related to pain and suffering, and you might be limited to recovering damages from your own insurance provider, and even your health insurance company. Without a liable party to go after, it can be difficult to claim for pain and suffering.

How to Prove Pain and Suffering in Florida

As with any personal injury claim made against a liable party, it’s important to have thorough proof to support your claims for pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can help guide you on how to prove your claims.

Gather Evidence of Your Pain and Suffering

The best way to gather evidence of your pain and suffering is by compiling any relevant medical documents that show the journey of your medical care and healing process. Common pieces of evidence that can support a claim for pain and suffering include:

  • Medical records: This can include invoices for medical services and care, prescriptions, and medical equipment used during your treatment and healing
  • Medical costs: Keep a detailed list of all your medical expenses, including those that relate to hospital stays, medical services, therapy, and counseling costs
  • Medical professional testimony: Personal injury attorneys will often turn to medical professionals as they can testify about your injury, the pain you’ve endured, and the recovery process. They can also offer insight into your injury, helping you build a stronger foundation for the claims you’re making.
  • Witnesses accounts: Witness statements can also help support your case as a witness can offer insight into what happened before, during, and after your injury
  • Photos of the scene and injuries: Photos and even footage of the accident that caused your injury can be especially compelling because they offer a clear visual of what happened
  • Personal statements: Finally, it can help to incorporate personal statements such as letters or journal entries you’ve made during your healing and recovery process

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Often, determining pain and suffering is generally much easier than calculating the pain and suffering a victim has endured. Personal injury attorneys generally rely on two calculation methods: the multiplier method and the per diem method.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method involves using the financial cost of your accident and multiplying that amount by a number on a scale of 1 to 5. The number scale correlates with how severe or how high your suffering is.

When dealing with insurance companies, attorneys often rely on the multiplier method when calculating non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. However, it’s important to note that an insurance company will push back against this calculation by trying to minimize how much pain and suffering they think the victim has endured. Regardless of how an insurance company uses this method, employing the multiplier method is a great place to start when negotiations take place.

The Per Diem Method

The per diem or “per day” method uses a daily remuneration to calculate a figure for your damages. Essentially, a financial figure will be associated with each day of your pain and suffering. Along with this, the calculation of medical expenses, loss of earnings, property loss, and other financial losses will also be multiplied by the number of days the pain and suffering took place.

For example, if your injury resulted in $250 of lost income, that number would be multiplied by the number of days you were unable to go to work.

Are Personal Injury Settlements Limited?

In Florida, there are limits on the type of damages you can pursue, along with a cap on certain damages. Florida’s personal injury settlement limits are as follows:

Limits on Economic Damages

There is no limit on the economic damages a plaintiff can seek when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Victims can recover losses, including:

  • Loss of income, earning capacity, or lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Hospital stays
  • Medical bills
  • Cost of medical equipment and treatment costs
  • Property loss
  • Other calculable damages

While there is no cap on economic damages, you need to provide proof of the damages you are claiming. This can be done by providing invoices related to medical bills, expenses, property damage, and other financial losses you claim to have suffered.

Limits on Pain and Suffering and Non-Economic Damages

Starting in 2003, Florida capped the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff could seek in medical malpractice lawsuits. This was reversed in 2017 when the courts ruled that the requirements “arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries.”

Under revised regulations, Florida now allows plaintiffs to pursue non-economic damages in all cases without limits. As such, non-economic damages in Florida are no longer capped.

However, a plaintiff still must provide proof of the non-economic damages they claim they’ve suffered.

Limits on Punitive Damages

Unlike economic and non-economic damages designed to compensate victims for their financial losses and any pain and suffering they have endured, punitive damages are designed to punish defendants for their negligent actions that led to personal injury.

As such, Florida does have a cap on punitive damages in personal injury cases. The cap is generally no more than a three times multiplier of the amount of compensatory damages OR a maximum of $500,000 — whichever amount is greater.

If You Have Been Injured, Let Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, Fight for You

A personal injury attorney working on his laptop and taking notes at his desk. Next to him is the scales of justice.

Personal injury lawsuits are layered and detailed and can quickly become overwhelming. However, when you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, navigating the nuances of the claim does not have to feel like a burden.

An experienced attorney can offer insight and guidance about your legal options. They’ll help explain and calculate potential claims of pain and suffering that exist in your case.

At Jack Bernstein, our team of attorneys, paralegals, investigators, and support staff will diligently work on your case. We will provide you with the insight and legal representation you need to recover the justice and compensation you’re entitled to.

Learn more about how our team can serve you and schedule your free case evaluation today.


  1. Stat. § 627.737.
  2. Stat. § 766.118.
  3. Pain and Suffering.
  4. R, Rafii. (2022). What Is a ‘Pain and Suffering Multiplier’?