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

Victims of accidents caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct, usually experience pain and suffering as a result of the injuries and other damages they suffer. They may seek legal recourse by bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault individual or entity, to recover financial damages.

Mostly, in personal injury settlements, identifying and establishing economic damages like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage are obvious and straightforward. However, calculating non-economic damages like the nature and extent of mental and emotional pain and suffering can be quite subjective and complicated.

In this article, we will examine how the law defines pain and suffering, how a skilled attorney can prove it by bringing a lawsuit, and how insurers calculate specific and non-economic damages in personal injury cases.

What is Pain & Suffering?

Legally, the term pain and suffering refers to the complete array of injuries suffered in an accident by the plaintiff. It includes not only physical pain, but also mental and emotional trauma such as fear, despair, grief, anguish, aggravation, and even the loss of joy of life. The plaintiff in every personal injury case is legally entitled to recover damages, however small or large, for pain and suffering.

Calculation of Pain & Suffering in a Personal Injury Civil Lawsuit

As discussed above, pain and suffering is an abstract term that includes physical as well as emotional pain that an accident victim may endure due to their injuries. Physical pain is quite unambiguous and may include broken bones, fractures, lacerations, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injury. Emotional suffering, on the other hand, may include post-traumatic stress, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, etc.

While there is no specific mechanism for calculating pain and suffering damages, the law commonly employs these two techniques to arrive at such damages in personal injury lawsuits:

The Multiplier Method

The more commonly used process among the two, to calculate pain and suffering damages, the multiplier method requires adding up all the economic damages and then multiplying their sum total by a number between 1.5 and 5. Mostly, 3 is the preferred multiplier used to arrive at a final estimate.

The economic damages typically include medical treatment bills, lost earnings, and damage to property. Depending upon the circumstances of each case, the nature and extent of injuries and their repercussions on future expenses are the main factors to determine the multiplier number for that case.

For instance, if you sustained catastrophic injuries that might require lifelong medical treatment, loss of future wages, and inferior quality of life, the multiplier applied to determine pain and suffering could be as high as a 4 or 5. But in cases where a complete recovery is possible despite serious injuries, the multiplier used might be closer to the median, that is 3.

The extent of the at-fault party’s negligence or wrongdoing in causing the accident will also be a factor in deciding the final multiplier number used in the calculation of pain and suffering damages.

The Per Diem Method

Another common technique employed by the courts to calculate pain and suffering damages is the per diem (Latin for per day). The aim of this approach is to press for a particular amount of monetary compensation for each day the victim suffered pain and suffering because of their injuries.

Usually, your daily wages or earnings prior to the accident are used as the daily rate on the basis of which your attorney demands damages. An essential drawback in using this method is the inevitable challenge by the defense attorney or the insurer, no matter what amount your lawyer comes up with as a daily rate.

What Is a Fair Settlement for Your Pain & Suffering?

To determine if a settlement offer by the insurance company is a reasonable compensation amount in your personal injury case, you must first apply one of the methods discussed above to arrive at a proximate figure. Having done that, examine any additional circumstances that might have a bearing on the final amount.

For example, if your injuries leave you with a permanent disability, it makes perfect sense to increase the amount of pain and suffering by what you consider fair. On the other hand, a superficial injury that will heal quickly may not be worth pursuing as much.

How Can You Prove Pain & Suffering?

Although you are legally entitled to recover your pain and suffering damages, but the pertinent question is how you can successfully establish these damages in front of a judge or jury. Conclusively proving your injuries, and your losses therefrom, requires you to painstakingly gather as much evidence as you can to bolster your claim.

Photographs, personal journals recording your feelings, documentation from family about the injury’s negative impact on your life, evidence of visits to a mental health professional for depression or anxiety – all these will go a long way in proving your pain and suffering and help you to recover your rightful claim.

Accident Attorneys in Georgia Can Help You Recover Maximum Damages for Your Injuries

For a clearer picture of what to expect in terms of damages, contact a skilled attorney at Stein & Fox, who will work vigorously to protect your rights and maximize your compensation claim. Our capable and qualified personal injury attorneys can skillfully negotiate with the insurance company or take your case to trial if needed.

Contact us with all the relevant details pertaining to your case, including the extent of your injuries, loss of wages incurred by you, and any mental or emotional trauma you may have suffered consequently. Call at (770) 961-1700 today, or contact us online to schedule a free case review with one of our personal injury attorneys.