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How are “Pain Scores” Used in Personal Injury Cases?

Automobile accident claims and their victims are unique; however, the specific “manifestations” of pain and suffering might include:

• The physical pain and discomfort caused by auto accident injuries;
• The physical pain and discomfort resulting from necessary medical treatment to treat those injuries;
• The negative impact of the physical pain, such as loss of sleep, anxiety, and depression; and
• The impact of injuries and limitations on the claimant’s life, like the loss of enjoyment of life, limitations on social/family life, and the inability to pursue hobbies and pastimes.

How Do Attorneys and Physicians Determine the level of a Victim’s Pain?

A car accident victim may tell his or her personal injury attorney, “I’m in a lot of pain.” That can be a very subjective description of the degree of pain an accident victim is experiencing. One way that attorneys and doctors gauge an individual’s level of discomfort is with a pain score on a numerical scale. This is a tangible metric in the subjective area of pain perception. In personal injury law and specifically in automobile accident cases, the accurate assessment of pain is critical as it can influence the path and outcome of a case dramatically.

Pain scores are used to measure an individual’s suffering and they provide a basis for assessing the severity of an injury. In addition, a pain score helps to gauge its impact on the person’s quality of life. A high pain score strengthens a client’s case and demonstrates the severity of their injury and the extent of their suffering.

The most frequently used pain score is the Numerical Pain Scale. The Numerical Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) is a subjective measure in which accident victims rate their pain on an 11-point numerical scale. The scale consists of 0, which is no pain at all, to 10, the worst imaginable pain or pain as bad as you can imagine.

The patient is asked to make three pain ratings, corresponding to current, best and worst pain experienced over the past 24 hours. The average of the three ratings is used to represent the patient’s level of pain over the previous 24 hours. Also, doctors assess these pain intensity levels either at the initial treatment or periodically afterwards.

The NPRS takes less than a minute to complete and is easy to administer and score.


Pain scores play a vital part in personal injury cases by assessing the severity of an injury and provide a clear way to measure an accident victim’s suffering. A pain score supports their claim and helps to determine appropriate compensation.

An attorney who’s worked in personal injury law for many years can help make certain that you get compensation for your injuries. The earlier in your case, you hire an experienced attorney, the more they can do for you and your loved ones. This can let you concentrate on your recovery, knowing that your personal injury attorney is overseeing the entire legal process.

For a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney in Grand Rapids, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids and Detroit, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs.