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Calculating Personal Injury Pain and Suffering Damages

| Feb 25, 2019 | Personal Injury |

If you’re in the midst of a personal injury claim after a car accident, slip and fall, truck accident, or similar accident, you may be waiting for money to be paid on the losses you suffered. While your personal injury lawyer has probably explained all the steps involved in the complex process of how personal injury settlements for damages are decided, you may still have some questions.

If you’re dealing directly with an auto insurance company and awaiting word on an offer, you have decided to go it alone without legal representation and may now be wondering if that was the right thing to do. Personal injury claims with and without legal representation will end, typically, in a monetary offer being made to cover expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While some of these amounts will be fairly easy to calculate, others, especially something like “pain and suffering” will be more difficult to calculate.

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages

In personal injury claims, there are two types of damages: economic and non-economic damages.  Economic damages are readily calculable like medical bills, lost wages, or anything with a clear dollar value. If you need a wheelchair, the economic damages associated with the wheelchair can be easily calculated. Juries tend to understand economic damages easily as they are set dollar amounts applied to goods or services you require now that you’re injured. Most juries have no hesitation when it comes to awarding a victim the monetary compensation needed to cover these expenses.

Non-economic damages are associated with the pain and suffering the victim experiences since the accident and injury. In many states, non-economic damages are defined “any bodily injury sustained by Plaintiff and any resulting pain and suffering disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past or to be experienced in the future.” The monetary value of non-economic damages is not as cut and dry as the amounts for economic damages, and calculation is required to come up with a total for non-economic damages.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Insurance companies take many factors into account before deciding what to offer as a settlement for pain and suffering:

  • Severity of injuries
  • Pain and discomfort associated with those injuries
  • How the injuries impact life in general
  • Amount and types of medical treatment necessary for the injuries
  • How long the injuries take to heal
  • Future care, including physical therapy, medications, surgeries, modifications to the home to make way for a wheelchair, etc.

Negotiating a settlement for a personal injury claim requires your lawyer to calculate a reasonable amount of money that you would accept to resolve your claim. Most insurance companies and injury attorneys rely on some type of formula to get an accurate idea of what the case is worth.

One method uses a multiplier and goes like this:

Present and future medical bills X “a multiplier of 1.5 to 5” + the total amount for Economic Damages = Reasonable Value of Your Case.

The multiplier is based on your degree of pain and suffering. A minor low back injury may result in a multiplier of 1.5 while the loss of one or both limbs may result in a multiplier of 5.

Some claims will use what is referred to as the “per diem” (by the day) method, which pays a certain dollar amount for each day you are affected by the accident, whether that be weeks, months, years or even decades. An amount of money per day is assigned to you and then the days you’ll likely be affected are added up to come to a total for your pain and suffering.

When you contact us for your injury claim consultation, attorney J. Ransdell Keene will discuss the various methods of pain and suffering calculation that could be used to determine the value of your claim.

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