Peter Catania | July 6, 2021 | Personal Injury
Putting a price on someone’s pain and suffering after an accident or injury is almost impossible. Each person suffers differently, even if their injuries are the same as another’s.
However, the only way to compensate for an injury is to hold the party who caused the injury financially liable for damages. Therefore, we must find a way to calculate pain and suffering damages that is fair to the victim and the at-fault party.
In most personal injury cases, the parties use a multiplier method or a per diem rate to calculate pain and suffering damages.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
When a person is injured in a car accident, construction accident, slip and fall, or other incidents, the person may incur a variety of damages. Damages in a personal injury case typically include financial losses (economic damages), such as the cost of medical care and loss of income.
However, damages also include pain and suffering (non-economic damages). Examples of pain and suffering damages include:
The pain and discomfort caused by physical injuries can be severe. Accident injuries may include:
- Internal organ damage
- Brain damage
- Neck and back injuries
- Paralysis and spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Nerve damage
- Strains and sprains
It is presumed that catastrophic injuries cause more pain and suffering. However, any physical injury can cause significant discomfort.
Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish
Being involved in an accident and sustaining injuries can also cause emotional distress and mental anguish. Types of emotional distress and mental anguish include:
- Anger and frustration
- Fear and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Grief and worry
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Insomnia and eating disorders
- Cognitive changes following a brain injury
An accident victim can experience debilitating emotional disorders following an accident. The emotional impact of an accident can be challenging to overcome.
Loss of Quality of Life or Enjoyment of Life
A person may sustain a decrease in the quality of life or loss of enjoyment of life because of accident injuries. For example, an accident victim who loses a limb may be unable to enjoy the same activities they did before the accident. A victim who is paralyzed may require 24/7 personal care.
An accident victim may be unable to have intimate relations with their partner or play with their children. They may not be able to return to regular daily activities. The loss of enjoyment of life can be devastating and debilitating.
Permanent Impairments and Disabilities
Coping with permanent impairments and disabilities often requires counseling and therapy. In addition, a person may require vocational therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
Dealing with the consequences of permanent impairment or disability can create additional emotional distress and mental anguish. These conditions also may decrease the person’s quality of life or enjoyment of life. The consequences of permanent impairment can create financial hardships and significantly impact a person’s social life.
Calculating the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages
Economic damages have a measurable value based on the amount of money the person loses. However, non-economic damages do not have a price tag. Therefore, there is not a bill or invoice you can submit for reimbursement.
There is not a standard formula used to calculate the value of pain and suffering damages. However, the multiplier method and the per diem method have become acceptable ways to calculate non-economic damages for a personal injury claim.
The Multiplier Method
The parties agree to a number between 1.5 and five based on the severity of the victim’s injuries. That number is multiplied by the total economic damages to calculate the value of pain and suffering damages.
The facts of the case are used to choose the multiplier. Factors that increase the value of the multiplier include, but are not limited to:
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
- Catastrophic injuries and multiple injuries
- The length of the recovery period
- Whether the person required surgery or therapy
The insurance company fights to keep the multiplier as low as possible to avoid paying large claims for pain and suffering damages.
The Per Diem Method
The per diem method is not used as much as the multiplier method. However, it can be effective when the person’s recovery period is lengthy, but the person did not sustain a permanent disability or impairment.
A daily value is assigned for pain and suffering. The same factors that impact the choice of a multiplier impact the value of a per diem.
The per diem is multiplied by the number of days it took for the person to recover from accident injuries. The recovery period is generally the period between the date of the injury and the date the doctor releases the person from treatment.
Fighting for Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering Damages
Because pain and suffering damages are subjective, insurance companies downplay these damages in a personal injury claim. As a result, the insurance adjuster may allege that you are making up your damages or exaggerating your suffering.
It can be helpful to keep a pain and suffering journal during your recovery. Make notes about how your injury impacts your emotional and physical health. Write down your daily pain levels and how your injuries prevent you from performing daily activities.
Friends and family members can testify about how your injuries impacted your life and your relationships. If you sought treatment for mental or emotional disorders, your counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist could also provide insight into how much you suffered because of an accident and injury.