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How Do Lawyers Calculate Pain and Suffering?

two lawyers talking about pain and suffering compensation in an injury case

In the aftermath of an accident, victims can pursue multiple types of compensation, including economic and non-economic damages. Most folks know they can recover economic settlements for medical expenses, lost wages, and other quantifiable damages. However, some victims may be eligible for non-economic damages, including compensation for pain and suffering.

But how are pain and suffering calculated?
Though complicated, several methods are used to determine the set amount for non-economic damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer at Milavetz can help you calculate your damages, fighting to ensure you receive every dollar of compensation you deserve.

What Qualifies as Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are a form of non-economic damages covering physical discomfort to emotional suffering. Non-economic damages compensate for the difficult-to-quantify impacts on an accident victim’s life.

Some common types of non-economic damages include:

  • Mental or physical pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Emotional anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium, or the benefits of a family relationship, of a spouse
  • Loss of companionship

For example, suppose an individual gets in a catastrophic car accident, resulting in the loss of their spouse, severe emotional anguish, and crippling grief. In this case, the individual may pursue compensation for their own pain and suffering, loss of consortium of a spouse, loss of companionship, and emotional anguish.

When evaluating your case and determining a fair settlement amount, your lawyer will examine how your physical and emotional losses impact you.

Two Common Methods For Calculating Pain And Suffering

Calculating pain and suffering can be tricky due to the variability from case to case. Everyone recovers in their own time, and you may require unique medical care to achieve maximum recovery. While there isn’t a catch-all equation for this calculation, two common methods exist for estimating your pain and suffering damages:

  1. The Multiplier method
  2. The Per Diem method

1. The Multiplier Method

Using the Multiplier method, our lawyers estimate the pain and suffering settlement by multiplying the economic damages by a number between one and five. The value of the multiplier depends on several factors including:

  • The duration of your recovery
  • The impact of the injuries on the quality of your life
  • The degree and severity of your injuries
  • Your mental state
  • The clarity of liability on the other party’s part

Here’s an example to help you understand how this works:

For instance, suppose you incurred $15,000 in expenses associated with your Minnesota car accident, including medical costs and loss of income. Your Minneapolis car accident lawyer may use a multiplier of three and request $45,000 in pain and suffering on your behalf.

2. The Per Diem Method

“Per Diem” means “by the day,” so using this method, our attorneys assign a specific amount and multiply the daily value of your pain and suffering by the number of days you suffered until you complete your recovery or achieve the maximum recovery possible.

For instance, they might ask for $200 daily on your behalf in this scenario. If you recover fully and return to normal activity in 30 days, you might be eligible for $6,000 in pain and suffering damages.

What Affects Settlement Amounts for Pain and Suffering?

Unlike medical expenses or loss of income, pain and suffering damages aren’t easily quantifiable and, thus, more difficult to calculate.

When calculating economic damages, your lawyer can consult the amounts on your bills, check stubs, and other associated items to determine the correct amount of compensation. However, with non-economic damages like pain and suffering settlements, there is more to the story.

The amount you can secure in a settlement hinges on several key factors. Here are a few questions that help determine how pain and suffering are calculated.

1. How Severe Are the Injuries?

The severity of the injuries is the chief consideration when valuing pain and suffering damages. Generally, more severe injuries are eligible for more compensation.

The logistics make sense, as a victim who will need to use a wheelchair for the foreseeable future will likely require more financial assistance than someone recovering from a sprained ankle. Or, an individual recovering in the intensive care unit will require more around-the-clock care than someone dealing with a minor laceration, resulting in a higher pain and suffering settlement amount.

2. What Is the Likelihood of a Full Recovery?

The likelihood of recovery is another key qualifying factor under this type of compensation. For example, an individual who has become paralyzed and wheelchair-bound due to an accident would likely receive more compensation than someone who will recover in a few weeks after rest.

Since wheelchair-bound individuals may never fully recover and enjoy life as they used to, their lawyers may argue that the pain and suffering they experience are ongoing and fight for higher settlement amounts.

3. How Has the Injury Impacted the Victim Financially?

The financial burden on the victim is another defining factor in these settlements. A case involving more severe injuries that require extensive, ongoing medical care and result in a long-term inability to work will secure a higher pain and suffering settlement amount.

Although economic damages will compensate for the financial impact, this factor can also contribute to the valuation of non-economic damages because the financial burden can exacerbate the victim’s mental anguish and stress during recovery.

4. What Insurance Policy Limits Exist?

Insurance policy limits also come into play, restricting the amount the victim can recover. For example, suppose you’re trying to recover compensation for pain and suffering after a devastating car accident. In this case, the amount you can recover will hinge on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits.

Most insurance companies won’t cover anything beyond the driver’s liability insurance policy amount. However, some drivers carry more than basic driver’s insurance, such as a secondary policy.

These policies, known as “umbrella policies,” can help cover the damages exceeding the main policy’s limits. It increases the amount of money available in a possible settlement and helps ensure the victim recovers the compensation they deserve.

These policies are more common among businesses and corporate companies, but others can also carry them. However, most insurance companies won’t tell you about extra coverage for excess damages to avoid paying them, so it’s important to have a skilled lawyer familiar with insurance policies on your side.

Evidence Used to Calculate Pain and Suffering

While pain and suffering aren’t easily quantifiable, your lawyer can use economic evidence to calculate a fair compensation amount. The evidence they may collect includes the following:

  • Medical records
  • Medical bills
  • Photographic evidence
  • Police reports
  • Medical opinions

Your medical records and bills can showcase the severity and extent of your injury and the appropriate medical care necessary to assist you in recovery. Photographic evidence of injuries and damage can further solidify these claims, as can police reports on the incident.

In addition, medical opinions can play a key role in pinpointing a fair pain and suffering amount. Your lawyer may hire one or more medical professionals to serve as experts in your case to support your pain and suffering claims.

For example, if you experience a traumatic bone fracture, medical professionals may attest to the long-term nerve damage these injuries can cause, hindering your ability to work. Your lawyer can use these statements to draw connections in your case and further enhance your chances of securing a fair settlement.

Our Lawyers Can Help Calculate Pain and Suffering

An experienced car accident lawyer is critical to securing a fair pain and suffering settlement after an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence. They can help determine a reasonable amount to pursue based on factors specific to your case, ensuring you recover the compensation you deserve.

Insurance companies use every trick in the book to avoid paying out large settlements. At Milavetz Injury Law, P.A., we have the expertise necessary to combat these tactics. We’re well-versed in negotiating with insurers and securing the maximum compensation for our clients’ pain and suffering.

If you were injured due to another party’s negligence, don’t wait. Our team at Milavetz Injury Law, P.A., can help. Contact us for a free case evaluation to determine your pain and suffering compensation eligibility.

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