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How Does a Jury Evaluate a Claim for Pain and Suffering?

September 5, 2018 General


When you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have the right to seek compensation for a wide range of losses, including:

  • Lost wages or income
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, i.e., the inability to engage in routine or previously enjoyed activities because of your injury
  • Loss of companionship or consortium, essentially the loss of the benefits of a family relationship with a spouse because of an injury

As a general rule, in most personal injury lawsuits, you can also ask for damages for pain and suffering. We looked more closely at what types of losses qualify as pain and suffering in an earlier blog. But what factors can a jury consider when calculating those losses? Here are some of the customary questions juries ask when assessing a claim for pain and suffering:

  • Is the plaintiff (the injured party) a credible witness? Note that this may be based on your testimony or it may be based on your physical appearance. It can also stem from your demeanor in court or on the witness stand. Did you stumble a lot or contradict yourself? Were you clear in your testimony? Did the defense attorney impeach your credibility in any way, even if it had nothing to do with the accident?
  • Does your claim of pain and suffering make sense to the jury? Can the jurors see a logical relationship between your injury and the pain you allegedly suffer?
  • Is there medical testimony to substantiate your claim?
  • Do you have a criminal record? (What, you may ask, does this have to do with a personal injury claim? Nothing, but a jury may still consider it)

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