What Is "Pain and Suffering" In an Uber/Lyft Passenger Injury Case?

How "pain and suffering" is defined in a rideshare passenger injury lawsuit, and how these non-economic damages are calculated.

When you're injured riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, and your harm was caused by the rideshare driver's negligent or intentional conduct, it isn't always easy to determine the scope of the harm you've potentially suffered. One issue is that accident injuries don't always show up right away. Another challenge involves quantifying the more subjective effects of your injuries, including what's known as "pain and suffering." How are nonfinancial losses like these defined, and how are they calculated in rideshare passenger injury cases?

What Is Pain and Suffering?

In personal injury cases where a plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) is claiming to have suffered injuries and other kinds of physical harm, "pain and suffering" is usually a category of the plaintiff's "damages." (Damages are losses resulting from the at-fault party's negligence or other wrongdoing). More specifically, pain and suffering is a component of "general" or "non-economic" damages. These kinds of losses are more difficult to quantify than "economic" damages, which include medical bills, lost income, and other out-of-pocket financial impacts attributable to the plaintiff's injuries.

While it's fairly easy to look at an itemized medical bill or pay stub and arrive at a dollar figure, people experience pain and discomfort in different ways, making it tough to determine fair compensation for those impacts. Indeed, the definition of and damages for pain and suffering are more subjective than formulaic. Get more details on damages in a personal injury case.

While some forms of pain and suffering are just what the term indicates—physical pain and discomfort—the concept covers a wide range of impacts, from the physical effects of the underlying harm to emotional distress.

In the context of a lawsuit over injuries suffered in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, different kinds of pain and suffering might include:

  • physical pain and discomfort resulting from your rideshare passenger injuries, and necessary medical treatment meant to alleviate or treat those injuries
  • anxiety over your current injuries, and worry over the chance that your condition could get worse
  • sleeplessness, fear, depression, and other psychological effects, and
  • inability to perform certain tasks or engage in certain activities because of your injuries.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in an Uber/Lyft Case?

In determining the value of a rideshare passenger injury case or anticipating what a jury might award in the rare event that the lawsuit goes to trial, there is no simple method or formula for figuring out the plaintiff's pain and suffering.

While pain and suffering is largely subjective, lawyers, insurers, and courts sometimes calculate it and other non-economic damages in direct relation to the plaintiff's economic damages. Sometimes they use a so-called "multiplier" (generally between 1.5 and 4) that is based on the seriousness of the physical injuries, the clarity of the defendant's liability, and other factors. For example, let's say the injured passenger's medical bills and lost income add up to $20,000, and a pain-and-suffering multiplier of 2 is used because some of the injuries aren't obviously attributable to the Uber/Lyft incident. In that case, the plaintiff's pain-and-suffering damages are $40,000 (the $20,000 economic damages multiplied by 2). Learn more about how pain and suffering is calculated in a personal injury case.

It's important to keep in mind that the use of a multiplier and other calculation methods is just a starting point when it comes to figuring out pain and suffering, especially when injuries are significant and the plaintiff's experience is unique. And if your rideshare passenger injury lawsuit makes it all the way to trial, one of the biggest determinants of the value of your pain-and-suffering damages is you—specifically, your ability to serve as a good witness and effectively communicate to the judge or jury exactly how your injuries have affected you.

But the first step in seeking fair compensation for your damages—including pain and suffering and other losses—is finding an attorney with experience in Uber or Lyft passenger injury cases like yours.