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.
Defense lawyers, on behalf of insurance carriers as well as some lawyers for accident victims, use formulas that multiply the “hard” damage numbers, referred to as “specials” (special damages) such as medical expenses and lost earnings to arrive at a supposedly “fair” settlement figure for pain and suffering.How do you determine the price of pain and suffering? ›
Another frequently employed approach is the per diem method. It assigns a specific dollar amount and multiplies it by the number of recovery days. For example, if a per diem amount of $100 is applied, and your recovery period lasts 14 days, your pain and suffering claim would amount to $1,400.What is a typical amount of pain and suffering? ›
The victim can ask for the $10,000 recovery on top of asking for compensation for pain and suffering. A typical multiplier is between 1.5 and five, with most cases falling at or near 1.5 times the amount of economic damages. Cases with severe, lifelong, permanent injuries might qualify for a higher multiplier.What is an example of the pain and suffering multiplier? ›
For example, if a person is involved in a car accident and suffers whiplash, a concussion, and a broken arm, their medical bills could total $5,000. Since the injuries are moderate, the insurance company might use a multiplier of 3 and offer a settlement of $15,000 for the pain and suffering component of the lawsuit.How do you negotiate a higher pain and suffering settlement? ›
- Manage Your Expectations.
- Know What Counts.
- Support with Outside Factors.
- Tell a Vivid Story.
- Describe Your Distress.
- Link Evidence to Your Pain.
- Make the “Before and After” Clear.
- You'll Need More Treatment.
The total time of their pain and suffering is approximately 13 weeks. If the victim made $150 per day, an attorney would multiply that monetary amount by the time of suffering. In action, the per diem formula looks like this: [7 days in one week] x [13 weeks of pain and suffering] = 91 days of pain and suffering.What is the formula for suffering? ›
Where suffering (S) equals Pain (P) times Resistance (R). Pain is inevitable, but when we resist pain in our lives we cause more pain, because we experience the anguish and fear that comes when we deny and avoid what's true.How much pain can you tolerate? ›
Everyone's pain tolerance is different and can depend on a range of factors including your age, gender, genetics, culture and social environment. The way we process pain cognitively affects our pain tolerance.How do you ask for more pain and suffering? ›
Document Your Losses
Because your pain and suffering often relates to the severity of your injuries, a doctor's notes about the extent of your pain can be helpful documentation. If you kept a pain journal detailing the effects of the injury on your day-to-day life, this could also serve as evidence.
Acceptable Level of Pain
If your loved one is happy at a pain level of 3, you wouldn't want to medicate them to the point of sedation to get them at a zero level of pain. On the other hand, some people try to tolerate pain levels above a 4, even though these levels of pain often reduce the quality of life.
The general formula most insurers use to measure settlement worth is the following: (Special damages x multiplier reflecting general damages) + lost wages = settlement amount.How is suffering measured? ›
Perhaps the simplest measure of suffering is one that attempts to assess this directly with a single question assessing the extent of suffering such as “To what extent are you suffering?” or “Please rate from 1 to 10 your suffering” (Schulz et al., 2010).How is pain measured? ›
The more common measures include adjective scales (Table 64.1), numeric scales (i.e., rating pain on a scale of 0–5, 0–10, or 0–100), and visual analog scales (Fig. 64.1). Each of these scales measures the sensory component of a patient's pain.How do you calculate damages for emotional distress? ›
Once the attorney has argued for emotional distress damages, he or she will then calculate a settlement amount using what's called a “multiplier method.” It works by adding up all the tangible or economic damages, like medical costs and lost wages, and then multiplying that sum by a given number, usually between 1.5 ...