How Are Pain & Suffering Damages Calculated in a Personal Injury Case?
If you have been injured in an auto accident, slip and fall, or you have suffered any other type of injury, you may be entitled to compensation if someone else was at fault. When their injuries are moderate to severe, personal injury claimants can often pursue a wide range of damages.
Some types of damages compensate the victim for direct economic losses, which would include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and loss of earning capacity. Then there are other damages that compensate for the real but intangible losses that the victim suffers, which are often categorized under the general heading of “pain-and-suffering”.
Economic damages, also sometimes referred to as “special damages”, are fairly easy to calculate. You just add up all of the receipts for the expenses incurred as well as the number of days missed from work multiplied by the claimant’s daily earnings. This is a relatively simple calculation, and if personal injury cases involved only special damages, they would be fairly clear-cut.
But the losses that a personal injury victim incurs often go far beyond what you can put a price tag on. Noneconomic damages, also commonly referred to as “general damages”, address the compensation that is due the victim from this category, and these losses generally involve some type of pain-and-suffering.
What is Pain-and-Suffering?
Pain-and-suffering essentially means the trouble that a personal injury claimant has to go through because of the accident. With minor accidents, this would usually just be compensation for the inconvenience of having to deal with everything. But in cases with more serious injuries, it is the compensation for the agony and suffering that the victim goes through.
Examples of pain and suffering in a personal injury case include:
- The physical pain that the victim suffers.
- The emotional and psychological distress related to the injury; e.g., stress, trauma, anxiety, sleepless nights, etc.
- Diminished quality of life; e.g., inability to play a favorite sport.
- Scarring and disfigurement and the pain, shame, and embarrassment related to the condition.
- Loss of consortium; e.g., loss of relationships with others (such as spousal intimacy).
- Permanent physical impairment/disability.
Proving that the victim suffered losses due to pain-and-suffering can be challenging, and it is accomplished in a number of ways:
- Medical evidence.
- Professional notes from doctors, therapists, and mental health professionals who treated the patient.
- Photos of the injury.
- The written opinions and/or testimonies of expert witnesses.
- Personal injury journals/diaries that are kept by the victim.
The more different types of evidence that can be provided, the stronger your claim will be during settlement talks with the insurer or at trial.
How are Pain-and-Suffering Damages Calculated?
Insurance companies often use one of two popular methods to calculate pain-and-suffering damages, or a combination of the two. These are:
- The Multiplier Method: This method uses a multiplier of the victim’s total medical expenses to calculate the value of their pain and suffering. The multiplier might be 1.5 and the low end when the injuries are not too severe, and five or higher on the high-end for more serious and catastrophic injuries.
- The Per Diem Method: This method involves assigning a daily rate for the victim’s pain-and-suffering, then multiplying that figure by the number of days between the date of the injury and the date that the doctor declares that the victim has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). As with the multiplier method, cases involving more severe injuries have a higher per diem rate.
Although most insurance companies use some type of formula to calculate pain-and-suffering damages, it is important to understand that the numbers that they plug into these formulas are still very subjective. And since the goal of the insurer is to pay out as little as possible for injury claims, they have a very strong incentive to use the most conservative figures possible. This is where an experienced personal injury lawyer can be very helpful.
Personal injury lawyers who have been around a while thoroughly understand which factors can be used to significantly increase the multiplier and/or per diem rate that the insurer is using. They also understand what evidence is most critical in helping to substantiate their claim and getting the insurance company to agree to a higher settlement.
Contact the Seasoned Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyers at Whibbs, Stone & Barnett
If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, do not let the insurance companies shortchange you, especially with the pain-and-suffering compensation you deserve. Before dealing with the insurer, contact Whibbs, Stone and Barnett for a free consultation to assess the specifics of your case.
To get started, message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561. We look forward to serving you!