Injuries can happen anywhere at any time. When you are injured due to another party's negligence or intentional bad acts, you may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit, seeking compensatory damages for pain and suffering, economic losses, bills for medical treatment, and more.
In this article, we will detail how to calculate pain and suffering damages and how an experienced personal injury attorney can simplify the process and increase your likelihood of receiving a settlement for pain and suffering.
What Defines Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Claims?
As a general rule, there are two categories of pain and suffering that you can cite in your personal injury claim which we will describe below. The law considers both of these categories as elements that fall under the umbrella of general damages. Unlike special damages, which are economic damages that encompass financial losses you suffer from your injuries and property damages, general damages are intangible inconveniences and losses you suffer as a result of your injuries.
Physical Pain and Physical Injuries
It is difficult to see and gauge the level of pain a person is experiencing. Although medical staff may observe and note symptoms consistent with pain, such as tenderness in a certain part of the body or limited range of motion in a joint, those are merely indicators of pain.
In addition, every person's pain tolerance is different. While some might seek emergency medical care for pain of a specific severity, another person experiencing the same may opt to take a non-prescription painkiller.
When your injuries are obvious, most people assume there is pain involved. Common injuries such as broken bones are well known to require medical treatment, possibly including surgery. Due to common experiences, people generally understand that this type of injury comes with an expected level of physical and emotional pain and requires time to recover and heal.
With less common or obvious injuries, however, such as soft-tissue injuries, whiplash, and muscle strains, it is harder for medical providers and laypeople alike to determine how much pain a person is suffering.
Mental Suffering and Mental Health
Severe injuries can cause lasting traumatic effects on not only your physical health but also your mental well-being. Mental pain and suffering can result from bodily injuries and manifest as loss of enjoyment of life; mental anguish; emotional distress; and negative emotions such as fear, sadness, anxiety, humiliation, shock, and anger.
In some cases, physical injuries may lead to even more significant mental pain and suffering that can have a severe impact on your daily life. This may include depression, rage, loss of appetite, chronic fatigue, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, or sleep disturbances. If severe enough, your mental pain and suffering could be considered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that can drastically affect your quality of life.
How Do Attorneys Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?
Because it is difficult to qualify an individual's physical and mental pain and suffering, there are two common methods used to place a monetary value on the claimant's general damages: the multiplier method and the per diem method. We will detail the two methods below.
The multiplier method uses your medical bills as the starting point from which to calculate damages for your pain and suffering claim.
This method uses a multiplier that is chosen by examining multiple factors such as the severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery, the effect of your injuries on your quality of life and your mental state, and so forth. A longer recovery and more severe injuries generally result in a higher multiplier. The multiplier is usually a number between 1.5 and 5.
The multiplier formula is the total cost of your medical bills multiplied by the multiplier, which sets the monetary amount that equates to your pain and suffering. For example, if your medical bills total $10,000 and your multiplier is 4, your pain and suffering damages would total $40,000.
Insurance companies are likely to fight to the lowest acceptable multiplier, but your personal injury lawyer will work hard to prove a case resulting in the highest possible multiplier.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method uses the length of your recovery time as the starting point for calculating your pain and suffering damages.
Using this method, your attorney chooses an amount per diem, which is based on similar factors to those that influence the multiplier in the previous method. Again, if your injuries were particularly severe and significantly disrupted your daily life, your per diem will likely be higher.
This type of “damages calculator” multiplies your per diem by the number of days you took to recover, from the date of the injury to the date your doctor released you from care.
For example, if your per diem value is $300 and your doctor released you 100 days after your injuries occurred, the monetary value of your pain and suffering would be $30,000.
Factors That Prove Economic Damages
To prove economic damages, such as loss of income and the cost of medical care, your attorney will require evidence such as:
- Receipts or records of payments made
- Medical bills
- Paystubs or a statement from your employer detailing lost wages
- Medical records proving the severity of your injury and the required medical care
- Estimates or bills for required work to fix property damage
- Expert and/or witness testimony
- Insurance documentation showing the cost of medical treatment
Factors That Prove Non-Economic Damages
Because non-economic damages are, by nature, intangible and difficult to qualify, it can be challenging to prove your pain and suffering. Some evidence your attorney could use to prove general damages may include:
- Psychological reports and evaluations
- Your journal, social media posts, and other personal writings
- Testimony from those who know you and can talk about how your injuries have affected your daily life
- Photos, such as pictures of your face before and after facial scarring from a car accident
Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney To Represent Your Case
If you or a loved one have experienced pain and suffering due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Moore Law Firm, who will fight to help you recover a fair settlement for pain and suffering.