How to document pain and suffering for a legal claim

How to document pain and suffering for a legal claim

For a legal case, it's important to record how an injury affects you, both in body and mind. This guide gives you clear, step-by-step advice on how to do this for a lawsuit in New York. By following these steps, you can make sure you're ready for your personal injury lawsuit.

Understanding pain and suffering in legal terms

In New York, pain and suffering encompass the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury. This includes bodily injuries, emotional trauma, and mental anguish like anxiety or depression.

Types of pain and suffering

  • Physical pain

This is about the actual physical hurt you feel from your injury, like cuts or broken bones. It also includes any ongoing treatment or long-term effects of the injury.

  • Emotional distress

This is about the mental and emotional impact of an injury. It can be things like feeling scared, sad, or stressed out after an injury. It also looks at changes in your life, like not being able to enjoy hobbies or spend time with family like before.

Role in legal claims

Pain and suffering are part of what you can claim in a lawsuit for personal injury in New York. They are subjective, meaning they vary from person to person. Courts look at how severe the injury is, how it affects your life, and your emotional suffering to decide how much money you should get. In New York, there's no maximum limit for pain and suffering damages in most injury cases​​​​​​.

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Preparing to document your pain and suffering

Next, let's focus on how to gather evidence of your pain and suffering for a legal case. This step is important for making sure your experiences are fully understood and fairly considered in your claim. We'll look at how to keep track of your experiences and collect important records​​​​​​.

Keep a detailed diary

Start by keeping a detailed diary where you record your physical and emotional feelings every day. This diary is a powerful tool as it chronicles how your injury affects your life, giving a clear view of its ongoing impact.

Gather medical records

Besides keeping a diary, it's also really important to collect all your medical records that are about your injury. This includes things like what your doctor said, your treatment plans, what medicines you're taking, and other medical papers. These records show how serious your injuries are and what kind of treatment you're getting. They help explain how much you're hurting and for how long.

Mental health records

If you've had therapy or counseling, include these mental health records as well. They are just as important because they show the emotional and psychological impact of your injury. This could include evidence of anxiety, depression, or PTSD that you might have experienced due to the injury.

Documenting your case can be complex. Let us simplify it for you. Get in touch for professional help with your documentation.

Effective documentation strategies

To make sure your pain and suffering are well-documented for a legal claim, you need to use a few smart strategies. Here's how to do it in a way that's easy to understand:

Describe everything

When you write in your diary or describe your pain and suffering, be as detailed as possible. Explain how the injury feels, how it affects your daily life, and how you feel emotionally. The more details you give, the better others can understand what you're going through.

Take photos

If you can, take photos of your injuries. These photos act as visual proof of your physical pain. They can show things like bruises, cuts, or any other physical signs of your injury. Keep these photos safe as they can be very important in your case.

Fix witness statements

Ask people close to you, like family, friends, or coworkers, to write down what they've noticed about your condition and how it has changed your life. They might notice things you don't and can help show how your injury affects you every day.

Structure of a pain and suffering letter

A pain and suffering letter, also known as a personal injury demand letter, is a formal document sent to an insurance company or responsible party to request compensation for injuries sustained in an accident. Here's a summarized guide on how to structure such a letter:


In a pain and suffering letter, you would begin by addressing the insurance adjuster or responsible party. This introduction should include your details, such as your name, along with the insured’s name, claim number, and the date of the incident.

Background of the incident

Next in your letter, you should explain what happened to cause your injury. Write about the events in the order they happened. Make sure to point out how the person or thing that caused your injury was involved. This part of the letter helps show why you got hurt.

Description of injuries and treatment

After explaining how the injury happened, the next part of your letter should talk about the injuries themselves and the medical treatment you've had. You need to list all the injuries and give details about the medical care you've received. This includes treatments you've already had and any more you might need in the future. It's important to describe this well so the reader understands how serious your injuries are and what you're doing to get better.

Drafting a pain and suffering letter can be daunting. Contact us to have an experienced lawyer draft your demand letter.

Presentation of evidence

After talking about your injuries, the next step is to show your proof. This means you should include things like your medical bills, any records of your treatment, proof of how much money you lost from not being able to work, reports from the police or incidents, statements from people who saw what happened, and photos. All these pieces of evidence are important to make your case strong and show why you need to be compensated for what happened to you.

Details of damages

After presenting your evidence, outline the details of your damages. This should include a breakdown of your financial losses, like medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any changes in your lifestyle or relationships due to the injury.

Demand for compensation

Then comes the demand for compensation. Here, you should state the total amount of compensation you are seeking, including both economic and non-economic damages. It's advisable to itemize these expenses and losses for clarity.


Conclude your letter by thanking the adjuster for their attention to your claim and set a deadline for their response to your demand letter.

Sending the letter

Finally, when sending the letter, use certified mail. This ensures you have proof of delivery, which is important in legal proceedings.

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Remember, pain and suffering in New York personal injury law is a complex area, and effective documentation is key to demonstrating the true impact of your injuries. Stay diligent and seek professional guidance to navigate this challenging process​​​​​

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