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General Damages – Pain, Suffering and Emotional Distress

The definition for general damages is generally understood to mean compensation for the non-monetary aspects of the specific harm suffered by a claimant. This is sometimes called the “pain and suffering” award for a claim.


General damages are typically awarded for claims involving a personal injury. Examples of these damages include physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation, loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. 

In this article of our series , we’ll discuss the key information associated with measuring general damage associated with a claim.  The determination of general damages is one of the most complex and elusive areas of damage valuations.  There are several issues to consider before beginning to calculate a general damage assessment including: 

  • The specific unique circumstances of each person related to their injury. These circumstances involve any non-economic factors which impact the current well-being of the individual.    
  • The causes and conditions of the injury.
  • The ability to work and maintain the activities of daily living (ADL), such as household chores and recreational activities.
  • The ability to have close relationships with family, friends and support persons.
  • Various medical, financial, and legal experts may be needed to understand and assess your unique circumstances now and into the future.  Additionally, specialized software and similar circumstance benchmarking may be needed to substantiate the value of your claim.  Some of the key factors to determine the value of your claim are:

  • “Pain and Suffering”, referring to the physical pain and related issues that someone experiences after being involved in an accident.
  • Emotional distress, which can take the form of mental anguish, depression, anxiety, and/or insomnia.
  • Lack of consortium and companionship, which may isolate an individual and lead to other physical and emotional maladies.
  • Understanding how your current financial circumstances, expected retirement and life-rated ages will be considered for your claim.

    If you or your advisors (attorney, accountant, insurance) have accurately determined your special damages, then add the total amounts to a planner like our What Is Your Claim Worth Solutions for an estimate of a possible general damage value.  This amount should only be considered a starting point to be further analyzed and negotiated with your special damages.  If you are having difficulty or need assistance with this type of analysis and planning, please contact us  for additional help.


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    By Robert J. Blackburn, Managing Principal, Blackburn Group, Inc., contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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