How does compensation for “pain and suffering” work? It’s pretty murky. You should have a good personal injury lawyer.
You get hurt in a car accident. And of course it’s going to cause you plenty of mental distress.
You’ve heard about people in other lawsuits who seek money for “pain and suffering.” You know the stereotypes associated with those damages.
So should you, in your unique situation, be entitled to recover damages for “pain and suffering?”
How can anyone put a dollar amount on your personal level of pain and suffering anyway?
As you may already have guessed, this is not a clear or easy-to-resolve issue. We can’t say how your situation will play out. But, we can give you the basics of how “pain and suffering” usually works.
What Factors Affect How Much You May Recover for “Pain and Suffering?”
Here are a few factors that can impact damages for pain and suffering:
- How severe your injuries are
- How much pain someone typically experiences with your injuries
- How those injuries affect you at your job and in your daily life
- The medical treatment your injuries required or will require in the future
- How long it will take you to recover from your injuries
- The extent and amount of medication you may need to take to treat your injuries
- How credible you are as a witness
- Whether you had any fault in causing your injuries
Two Ways to Calculate “Pain and Suffering” Damages: “Per Diem” and “Multiplier”
Some attorneys use one of these two methods to begin negotiations for your compensation. Much of the final amount that you get relies on your personal injury lawyer’s ability to negotiate with the insurance adjuster or to connect with a jury. Some lawyers get better results than others.
Here’s how the two methods work:
- “Per Diem” AKA “Daily Rate”
With this method, an amount of money is assigned to each day or week of your suffering following your car accident. Let’s say that after about six months you were finally pain free.
That’s about 180 days. The lawyer could argue you that your daily pain for the dates in question should be compensated at $200 per day for a total of $36,000 in pain and suffering.
Keep in mind that insurance adjusters will argue that you should receive very little for pain and suffering – especially if they try to suggest your injuries were “minor.”
The Multiplier Method
With this method, you simply multiply your medical bills and lost wages by a certain number. Many personal injury lawyers use three, but insurance companies have pushed back against this. You can guess why – they’d like to find a way to pay less. Today, they use complex software programs that arrive at different, and lower, calculations.
Gotta love ‘em! What will they come up with next?
The multiplier itself gets bigger in more severe accidents and lower in less severe ones. A minor fender bender might use a 0.5 or 1 or 2. In the case of injuries taking 6 months to recover from, 3 or 4 might be used. Lower numbers may also be used if you’re partially at fault.
So let’s say you ended up with $6,000 in medical bills and $2,000 in lost wages. That adds up to $8,000. Multiply that by 3 to get $24,000.
Some injury attorneys will take this “multiplier” number and average it with the “per diem” number. In this case, averaging $24,000 and $36,000 results in $30,000.
At this point, a demand letter gets crafted and negotiations begin with the insurance company.
Obviously, There’s Lots of Subjectivity in This Process
By now, you can see that these numbers for “pain and suffering” can be fairly subjective, depending on the judgment of those involved.
And that’s why it makes sense to have the most skilled personal injury lawyers you can find on your side. Attorneys that don’t insist on a “one size fits all model.” Cases are about people…not bills. After all, most reasonable people would agree that someone who breaks an ankle in a wreck caused by no fault of their own and incurs $2,500.00 in medical bills should not be “limited” to $7,500.00 if they were unable to walk without crutches for 2 months. Effective attorneys humanize the case and get adjusters or jurors to focus on the real impact the injury had on the victim’s life.