How to Calculate Damages for Pain and Suffering

We’ve all heard the elusive phrase “pain and suffering” tossed around in conversations, court TV programs, legal documents, and more. It’s a real thing, but one that can be challenging to quantify. Pain and suffering isn’t always physical, which is where it gets tricky to describe. Some people might find it hard to adequately describe what emotional pain and suffering feels like, or to define it as precisely as they might want. It can be equally difficult to calculate precisely how much pain and suffering costs in a personal injury case. Whether you’ve been in a traffic accident, had a fall, or something in between, there are two types of damages to which you may be entitled. “Damages” is the term used to describe losses for which someone must compensate you. Economic, or special, damages are everything that’s easy to measure, such as lost income, medical bills and anything else that has already been assigned a dollar value. General damages include things like pain and suffering, which can mean physical discomfort, but also anxiety and emotional distress that stem from the accident or from your injuries. Insurance companies come at this conundrum a couple of different ways. One way, and arguably the most commonly utilized, involves adding up all the special damages that are easy to quantify and multiplying the sum by a number, generally between 1.5 and 5. How high the multiplier is depends on your case. The more items in the list below that can be proven, the higher the multiplier will be:

  • Fault for the accident is obvious and almost completely at the hands of the other party.
  • Injuries are easy to observe and detect by a medical expert.
  • Injuries are dramatic and obviously painful, such as a fracture or tear that requires surgery or that cannot ever be successfully repaired.
  • Diagnosis and treatment comes from physicians and hospitals.
  • Recovery took/will take 6 months or longer.
  • There are medically documented permanent consequences, such as immobility, pain, or weakness.
  • Your physicians clearly indicate that your injuries will cause recurring, degenerative, or future problems.
Another calculation approach is called “Per Diem,” which is Latin for “Per Day.” The idea here is that the pain and suffering you deal with each day is comparable to the effort it takes to work a day job. The tough part is deciding how much each day is worth, and what amount the court will consider reasonable. Often, your daily rate of pay at your job is multiplied by the number of days you were out of work and in residual pain. For example, if your salary is $45,000 ($180/day), and you were out of work/in pain for 5 months (~150 days), your pain and suffering settlement would equal $27,000. This doesn’t work for permanent or long-term injuries, obviously, because the money would be never-ending. What happens in many cases is that both methods are used. Each personal injury case is different, and you can help yourself by paying attention to your medical care when you’re receiving treatment following an accident. It’s up to you to communicate with doctors about all the pain or discomfort you experience. If complaints of pain aren’t written down in the medical records, it can be incredibly difficult to convince anyone that your suffering entitles you to compensation. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Our knowledgeable legal team will work closely with you every step of the way. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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