2 Methods to Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Settlement

Personal Injury lawsuits can occur due to car accidents, slip and falls, and any other negligent act from another party that leads to the injury of another person. When a case is filed in court and a settlement is made, there are two main forms of damages:

  • 1.Special damages, which are lost income, medical expenses, property damage and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • 2.General damages, which include damages caused by discomfort, pain and suffering as well as emotional anxiety, distress and stress.

Both of these damages will be part of the final settlement in a personal injury case. That's why you'll see impressive $1.8 million settlements for some cases, and other cases with settlements that cover primarily the cost of medical bills. The extent of the injuries do play a role in the final determination of a settlement, too.

General damages, the damages that include pain and suffering, are not easy to determine.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

When pain and suffering is considered, an attorney will look toward the best method of calculation on a case-by-case basis. Every case is different, but the two main calculation methods are: per diem and multiplier.

Multiplier Method

The Multiplier method is a method wherein all of the special damages are added up and multiplied by a factor of 1.5 - 5. Your case will play a major role in determining the multiple. A serious case where the injuries are life-changing may have a multiplier in the 4 – 5 range, whereas a minor injury may have a 1.5 multiplier on the low-end.

Factors that weigh on the multiplier include:

  • Recovery time
  • Chance of a complete recovery
  • Injury impact on daily life
  • Fault of the opposing party

A major contributing factor will be the fault of the opposing party. If the other party was not at fault or only played a minor role in the injury, this will weigh on the multiplier, too.

Most insurance companies employ the multiplier method during their calculation, and this will include:

  • Past medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses

And the multiplier, when calculated by the insurer, will often be a low-ball number in an attempt to push a settlement. Defendants always argue for a lower multiplier, while the plaintiff will argue for a higher multiplier.

Per Diem Method

Per Diem is Latin for "per day," and this is a method to determine the daily rate of pain and suffering. This is an attempt to put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering per day, and then averages will be used to multiply the daily rate by your "worth."

The issue with this method is that it doesn't work for long-term injuries.

An example may be pain and the daily sum of your salary. A person earning $100 a day may have pain from an injury for 50 days, and in this case, they may be granted $5,000 in a settlement based on their daily wage.

Per diem methods are generally only used when the injuries are minor in nature.

You'll also find that there are accident specifics that need to be put into the calculations. These specifics will help round out the number to be a more respectable amount. Negotiations will need to be hashed out between both parties.

But when an accident leaves a person with a life-long, permanent injury, this often results in lawyers digging up past verdicts.

The idea is that the settlement in a similar case with similar injuries will be a great starting point for discussions. Lawyers have access to previous settlements that they can use in conjunction with the two methods above to try and hash out a settlement that is fair and just in your personal injury case.

In-depth medical records and experiences can help to better express the extent of pain and suffering of the plaintiff.

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