How Pain and Suffering is Calculated In Personal Injury Claims

Calculating pain and suffering in personal injury cases is a complex and often subjective process. Compensation for pain and suffering refers to the physical and mental anguish that a person suffers as a result of an accident or injury. In many cases, the injured party may seek compensation for their pain and suffering in addition to economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages.

There are various methods for determining the value of damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury claim. Regardless of the method used, however, determining an exact amount of compensation for pain and suffering requires carefully examining the individual case and its particular circumstances.

injury pain and suffering

Defining Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury cases, “pain and suffering” is the general term for discussing non-economic losses. Calculating a personal injury settlement compensation can be difficult as it's subjective and highly dependent on the severity of the injury and the evidence presented.

Types of Non-Economic Damages

Compensation for pain and suffering usually falls under the category of non-economic damages, which also includes the following:

  • Emotional suffering: the psychological effects of an injury, such as anxiety, stress, and depression, can be considered when calculating compensation.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: the victim's reduced ability to pursue daily activities or hobbies due to the injury.
  • Loss of consortium: the negative impact of an injury on the relationship between the victim and their spouse or partner.

Severity and Evidence in Claims

The amount awarded for pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case can vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury and the quality of the evidence presented. The more serious the injury and its impact on the victim's life, the higher the compensation will usually be. Similarly, more conclusive evidence of pain and suffering (e.g., medical records, expert witness testimony) can increase the likelihood of higher compensation.

A common method of calculating compensation for pain and suffering is the multiplier method: the victim's total medical bills and loss of earnings (known as "special damages") are multiplied by a figure between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the case. For example, if a victim has medical bills totaling $10,000 and the injury is classified as moderate (resulting in a multiplier of 3), the pain and suffering damages would be $30,000 ($10,000 x 3).

Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering

Compensation for pain and suffering is essential to personal injury claims. It reflects the physical and mental anguish caused by an injury due to the negligence of another party.

Multiplier Method

The Multiplier Method is a widely used and common method for calculating compensation for pain and suffering. Under this method, the sum of the "special damages" or economic damages, which include medical expenses and lost wages, is multiplied by a certain number called a "multiplier."

The choice of multiplier usually ranges from 1.5 on the low end to 4 or 5 on the high end, depending on various factors such as the severity of the injury, the impact on the person's daily activities, and the length of recovery. For example, if a person incurs medical expenses totaling $10,000 with a multiplier of 3, their damages for pain and suffering would be calculated as follows:

$10,000 (medical expenses) × 3 (multiplier) = $30,000 (pain and suffering)

Per Diem Method

The Per Diem Method, Latin for "per day," calculates damages for pain and suffering on a daily basis instead of using a multiplier. In this method, a specific monetary value is assigned to each day the person is in pain, and then the total number of days is multiplied by that daily rate to determine the pain and suffering award.

For example, if the daily rate is $150 and the person suffers for 60 days, their pain and suffering award would be:

$150 (daily rate) × 60 (days) = $9,000 (pain and suffering)

The per diem method takes into account all past pain and suffering that you may have experienced, as well as future pain and suffering. Past pain and suffering is calculated as the number of days up until the day the attorney sends the demand to the insurance company. Future pain and suffering is based on your expected life span, which will be based on the average expected life span for someone your gender and age.

Alternative Approaches

While the Multiplier and Per Diem methods are widely used, they don't accurately assess damages for pain and suffering in every case. Therefore, alternative approaches can be used to ensure a fair calculation of damages:

  • Impact on daily activities: Evaluating how the injury has impacted the person's ability to participate in daily activities and routines can help determine the severity of the pain and suffering.
  • Medical expert testimony: Medical professionals can provide valuable insight into the extent of the injury and the expected recovery time, which can significantly impact the calculation of damages for pain and suffering.

When seeking compensation for personal injury, you will usually have to negotiate with an insurance adjuster at some point, so it’s important to retain an attorney as soon as possible. Negotiations begin with a letter of claim in which the injured party or their lawyer sets out the case details and outlines the compensation claimed.

Insurance companies often have their own methods of calculating compensation for pain and suffering, which may differ from the methods used by the court. Their primary aim is to settle the claim for the lowest possible amount. As a result, an insurance adjuster may offer a significantly lower settlement amount than the injured party is asking for.

Maximizing Your Compensation Claim

When seeking compensation for pain and suffering, there are different ways that you can maximize the amount of your claim.

Documentation and Medical Records

One way to maximize compensation is to carefully document your medical expenses and records. This will help determine both the economic and special damages in your case. Some of the things you should record include:

  • Medical Bills: Keep copies of all your medical bills, which include invoices from hospitals, doctors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals.
  • Lost Wages: Provide receipts for lost wages due to injury. This can be timesheets or a letter from your employer confirming the hours missed and income lost.
  • Medical Records: Request copies of your medical records, including diagnosis, treatment plans, and prognosis, as these may support your compensation claim.
  • Out-of-Pocket Losses: Document any additional expenses incurred due to the injury, such as travel costs to medical appointments or property damage.
  • Impact on Daily Life: Keep a diary of the pain and suffering you have endured due to your injury and any changes in your mental well-being or ability to perform everyday tasks.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

A critical factor to the success of your injury claim is hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help you better understand the intricacies of your case and negotiate a fair settlement.

  • Experience: Look for an attorney with experience representing clients with similar injuries, as they will be familiar with the insurance companies' calculation methods and tactics.
  • Negotiation Skills: insurance companies often try to minimize their payouts, but an attorney with negotiation skills can refute their arguments and get a better settlement offer.
  • Case Evaluation: A personal injury lawyer can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and advise you on the best course of action to achieve optimal compensation.
  • Legal Representation: If your case goes to trial, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court, making a strong case on your behalf.

Speak To A Personal Injury Attorney About Your Claim Today

If you've been injured due to another person’s negligence and it has had a serious impact on your life, you should speak to a personal injury attorney right away.

We'll work tirelessly to help you recover damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Call us at 888.626.1108 or click here to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

Call A Lawyer Start A Chat