How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in a Personal Injury Case?

There’s no one-fit-for-all, despite the abundance of online calculators. Each personal injury case is unique, so you need an experienced attorney to help claim deserved compensation. Insurance companies also have unique calculators and systems to determine how much claimants can receive. Here’s what’s involved in calculating pain and suffering damages:

Two Ways to Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages

Lawyers, judges, and insurance providers use various factors to calculate pain and suffering, but no precise science or calculator exists. Most personal injury cases consider two popular methods to calculate pain and suffering compensation: multiplier and per diem. Each has unique advantages and drawbacks, and you’ll probably need both. 

1.    Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is the most popular calculation for pain and suffering damages. It involves multiplying special damages with a unique number usually between 1.5 and 5, with 3 as the most common multiplier. Special (economic) damages refer to calculable losses, such as medical bills, lost income, property damages, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Pain and suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, anxiety, and stress, fall under general (non-economic) damages. The multiplier chosen depends on various factors, mainly the severity of the injuries and how the accident impacts your life. A severe/catastrophic injury with lifelong medical care, disability, and lost wages will likely receive a 4 to 5 multiplier.

Serious injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations recovering within a few months will receive a multiplier close to 3. The degree of fault/negligence also influences the multiplier figure. A reputable lawyer helps you gather enough evidence to prove your innocence and negotiate a higher multiplier to cover all damages suffered.

2.    Per Diem Method

Per diem is the Latin word for “per day.” The calculation is based on a dollar amount personal injury claimants should receive every day for the pain and suffering. Per diem calculations are less popular because it’s harder to justify a daily rate. You’ll meet opposition from the defendant or insurance company regardless of the amount your lawyer decides.

Most attorneys will premise per diem calculations on your daily income.

Whatever you earned each day before the accident is a reasonable figure applied to calculate your daily rate. According to this argument, the pain and suffering you endure each day are comparable to the effort put into going to work. 

If you earn $200 per day and suffer 100 days of pain, you should receive $20,000.

This calculation only applies to short-term injuries. Long-term and permanent injuries calculations involve various considerations, including related verdicts and settlements. You’ll need a licensed attorney with access to expensive services and subscriptions offering such data.

Factors Considered When Calculating Damages

Each personal injury case is unique and results in varying damages. Your lawyer will focus on getting the highest compensation for your losses. The insurer and defendant seek to avoid the settlement or pay the least amount. 

If your lawyer and the defendant’s representation don’t reach an agreement out of court, the jury will determine your case. Here are some of the factors courts consider when calculating compensation for pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case:

•    Negligent behavior of the defendant

•    The severity of the victim’s injuries

•    Overall physical and mental pain suffered

•    Impact of the injuries on day-to-day activities and general life

•    Victim’s employment and income

•    Overall health and the prospects of fast or slow recovery 

•    Prospects of complete healing and eventual prognosis of the injury

•    Medical treatments given to the victim, including ongoing and future medical needs

You can file a third-party claim if you suffer personal injuries because of another person’s negligence. This claim seeks compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Most insurance carriers use customized algorithms to determine payment.

There’s no obligation to use the multiplier or per diem methods. In most cases, the insurer will review the type and severity of the injury and medical treatment received. Other considerations include specific policies for pain and suffering and local laws/statutes.

Proving Pain and Suffering in Your Case

A third-party claim doesn’t mandate hiring an attorney but having one is crucial, especially when claiming pain and suffering damages. You’ll need to prove innocence (no-fault) for the accident, and all damages claimed. Proving pain and suffering requires evidence, just like medical bills, lost wages, and other general damages. 

The best way to prove pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case is through evidence in your medical reports. An insurance adjuster will dispute any claims for pain if the medical records don’t reflect the same. Personal injury victims need to report any discomfort when communicating with healthcare professionals.

Document all your visits to the medic, including mental health therapies, whether online or in-person (face-to-face). You can also request written opinions/notes from your doctor or mental health professional. The objective is to document the extent/nature of your injuries/condition, including how it’ll impact you beyond the physical injuries.

Medical records also include testimonials and opinions from neutral third parties, such as an expert medical witness. An expert witness can collaborate the evidence from a physician and provide insights used in quantifying the pain and suffering. Here’s an overview of other proofs you need when proving pain and suffering damages:

•    List off all received and scheduled medications for physical and mental pain

•    Documentation for any permanent, life-threatening, or disabling condition

•    A detailed journal describing your day-to-day activities and pain scales

•    Documentation of how the accident has impacted your life and ability to perform daily activities

•    Testimonials from friends, family members, and third parties regarding your pain and suffering

Reputable Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Lawyer

Claiming pain and suffering damages is all about providing evidence and proof. Expert witnesses, medical records, and accounts from personal journals and testimonials will provide valuable information. Make sure you engage a motor vehicle personal injury lawyer soon after a car accident.

Lawyers seek to persuade the jury about how you’ve been impacted after someone else’s negligence and the challenging recovery journey. At Ping an Attorney, we connect injured parties to experienced lawyers to recover damages. You can consult with a personal injury lawyer to start building your case.