Determining pain and suffering as a measure of damages is a complex yet imprecise calculation. It involves either determining the amount of suffering a person endures daily or multiplying the total amount of economic damages a person receives by some number, usually between one and five. Unlike adding up economic damages, like medical expenses or lost wages, juries and courts must rely on these complex considerations to provide injured parties with the relief they deserve for noneconomic losses.
In this post, the James Horne Law team will explain the basics of determining pain and suffering damages. We will help you understand the two main ways to calculate pain and suffering damages and discuss the various factors that help courts determine what your pain is worth.
Methods of Determining Pain and Suffering
There are two main methods of determining pain and suffering damages: the per diem and multiplier methods. Depending on your local courts and the circumstances of your case, either one may apply.
The Per Diem Method
The per diem method uses a daily-rate-of-compensation approach to calculating pain and suffering damages. Here is how the per diem method works.
Select a Daily Rate
In the per diem method, the first step is to establish a daily rate that represents the value of your pain and suffering. The rate is typically determined by negotiation, considering factors such as the nature of the injuries, the impact on your life, and the expected duration of pain and suffering.
The chosen daily rate should be reasonable and justifiable based on the case’s specific circumstances. You should know that if your case goes to trial, a judge or jury may adjust the daily rate.
Calculate the Total Damages
Once the daily rate is determined, the next step is calculating the total pain and suffering damages. This is done by multiplying the daily rate by the number of days the injured person is expected to experience pain and suffering as a result of the injury. The duration may include the period from the date of the injury until the person is expected to recover fully or reach a point where their pain and suffering significantly diminishes.
The Multiplier Method
Unlike economic damages, which have specific monetary values such as medical bills or lost wages, pain and suffering damages are noneconomic and more challenging to quantify. The multiplier method is a more subjective way to assign a dollar value to these noneconomic losses. How do you calculate pain and suffering using the multiplier method? Here are some steps that are essential to that calculation.
Assessment of Economic Damages
Before applying the multiplier, your economic damages are totaled. These are the tangible, monetary losses resulting from the injury, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Determine the Multiplier
Once your economic damages have been added up, a multiplier is applied. The multiplier is a number typically ranging from 1 to 5, though it can be higher or lower depending on the specifics of the case. The multiplier is chosen based on various factors, including:
- The severity of the injuries—more severe injuries typically warrant higher multipliers.
- Degree of fault—the multiplier may be reduced if the injured party was partially responsible for their accident; and
- Impact—the more the accident impacts the injured person’s life, the higher the multiplier is likely to be.
Once a number is selected, it is multiplied against the total economic damages to produce the pain and suffering award. Thus, the formula for calculating pain and suffering damages using the multiplier method is: Pain and Suffering Damages = Economic Damages × Multiplier.
For example, if the economic damages amount to $50,000 and a multiplier of 3 is chosen, the pain and suffering damages would be $50,000 × 3 = $150,000.
A member of the James Horne Law team can work with you to assess your case and determine which of these methods should be used in your case.
Factors Considered When Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
Whether you are using the per diem method or the multiplier method, there are a few factors courts take into consideration when determining your pain and suffering damages. These considerations may include:
- Reviewing medical evidence,
- Determining the duration of your recovery,
- Understanding the nature of your injuries (i.e., whether they are temporarily or permanently disabling),
- Assessing the psychological impact of your circumstances, and
- Considering the impact your injury has on your lifestyle.
There is no single consideration in calculating pain and suffering. The totality of your circumstances is assessed before the court will apply either method to calculate what they think you deserve. Be sure to work with a personal injury attorney to maximize your potential recovery.
How James Horne Law Can Help
At James Horne Law PA, we take the time to understand the full extent and serious nature of your case. We know how an accident or someone else’s negligence can shatter your life and the lives of your loved ones. Our legal team pays close attention to detail and gives each case the full attention it deserves. Contact us today by phone or email for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help.