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The honest answer is that there is no specific formula for calculating pain and suffering in Virginia. In a personal injury or car accident settlement, the settlement is calculated under four common factors:

While the first three factors are relatively easy to calculate, pain and suffering is a lot more challenging. This is because pain and suffering takes both emotional and physical damage into account. The process can be both long and difficult as both sides work to figure out the correct amount for pain and suffering that resulted from the accident.

How do Insurance Companies Value Pain and Suffering when Calculating the Settlement?

Insurance companies will often reference statistical data of the region when calculating pain and suffering. There is no exact formula, so this makes the calculation easier for them. Their goal is to pay you the lowest possible acceptable amount hoping that the claimant will accept their offer rather than move the process to court.

The purpose of calculating the pain and suffering amount is to give a subjective estimate of what a jury would likely award in court. There are many factors that can affect the pain and suffering settlement amount including the experts or medical professionals the claimant consulted with during the settlement process.

Evidence the Claimant Should Obtain Before Calculating Pain and Suffering

When calculating pain and suffering, it is often an easier process to prove pain rather than mental damage because physical evidence of pain can be provided.

Evidence can include:

  • Photographs of injuries resulting from the accident
  • Expert testimony
  • Pharmaceutical bills detailing the required medication
  • A journal detailing pain levels each day after the accident
  • Medical records with evidence of the extent of injuries

When proving mental anguish as a result of the accident, the best ways to provide evidence include:

  • A journal detailing changes in emotion, emotional pain, etc.
  • Expert testimony regarding the extent of mental anguish
  • All records of visits to mental health practitioners
  • Records documenting change in behavior, work habits, performance, etc.

The overall goal when proving pain and suffering is to detail how it is affecting the claimant’s personal life and occupational performance. The claimant will want to prove that pain and suffering has caused them to lose wages and miss out on important opportunities in their life.

Should You hire an Attorney?

The insurance company will look at settlement statistics for pain and suffering in your area, so having a local attorney who can negotiate and understand the statistics is important during the settlement process. However, it is also important to understand whether your case has a chance of receiving a settlement that an attorney can bring value to.


When approaching a settlement where the claimant is pushing for pain and suffering, it is important to understand whether an attorney will bring value to the case. If the accident was minor with little to no damage to the vehicle and no hospital visit was required, then the claimant is most likely better off settling on their own. However, if the claimant has suffered a severe injury along with pain and suffering, then an experienced attorney would likely bring value to the case.

We provide a book called Getitsettled University! That can help guide you through the settlement process. If you feel that your case would have value added by an experienced attorney, give BenGlassLaw a call at [number] and let us guide you through the settlement process.

Brian Glass
Virginia personal injury lawyer selected to SuperLawyers Rising Stars List and the NTLA's Top 40 Under 40.