Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary
Pain And Suffering
Compensation for physical pain, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life caused by a defendant’s wrongful actions. Pain and suffering includes physical pain and discomfort; negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, humiliation, and shock; and decreased ability to enjoy life, including sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, lack of energy, inability to engage in hobbies, and loss of appetite. Pain and suffering is an element of damages commonly sought in personal injury lawsuits.
Though the concept is somewhat abstract, the injured person (the plaintiff) can seek compensation in the form of cold, hard cash. How much the defendant owes for pain and suffering is calculated separately from the amount owing for more direct expenses, such as medical bills or time lost from work -- although sometimes these amounts are considered to arrive at a logical figure.