How is Pain And Suffering Calculated?
After a few weeks have passed since the date of the injury and the patient—or their loved ones—have had a chance to take a breath and begin thinking about the future, one common thought tends to come to mind: how will all of this be paid for? The answer to that, if the injured victim is fortunate enough, is that the negligent party will be identified and held accountable by an attorney, and forced to pay for 100 percent of the victim’s damages. Or, more accurately, the liable party’s insurer will pay for the damages. Hospital bills are often the first expense that victims and their loved ones begin to worry about, but there are many other costs associated with a serious injury. One of these is pain and suffering, which can be difficult to put a price tag on. After all, how much did the victim actually suffer? How much is someone’s pain worth? How can one person’s pain for an injury be compared to another with the same, but slightly different, type of injury? After all, a broken femur may cause one individual severe, excruciating, and substantial pain and suffering, but for another person, for whatever reason, it may only be moderate.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional pain that a victim of a personal injury incident is inflicted with. However, pain and suffering may be cited as a damage within a personal injury claim in addition to emotional pain and suffering, such as loss of joy of life, mental anguish, or emotional distress. Pain and suffering can consist of:
- Physical pain and discomfort caused during the car crash or other incident;
- Physical pain and discomfort suffered by the victim in the hospital or weeks and months after the incident;
- Ongoing chronic physical pain and discomfort that is expected to last for years, or life;
- Psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, and other psychological or emotional problems;
- Physical limitations caused by the injury, such as no longer being able to run; and
Calculating Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is usually calculated in one of the following manners:
- Multiplier Method: The victim’s economic damages are totalled and multiplied by a number ranging from one to five. The more extreme the injuries, the higher the multiplier. A simple case of minor whiplash may have a multiplier of 1.5, whereas a serious traumatic brain injury would have a multiplier of five. The average medical expenses for a TBI caused in a car crash, according to the NHTSA, is well over $400,000. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that the victim’s other economic damages add up to $600,000, for a combined total of $1 million in economic damages. Multiply this by five and the pain and suffering aspect of the injury alone is $5 million. However, the American Bar Association recommends that there be “no ceiling” on pain and suffering damages, meaning pain and suffering damages can exceed the five multiplier.
- Per Diem (Per Day) Method: A dollar amount is assigned to a day of injury, and multiplied by the number of days the victim is affected by the injury This daily amount may be assigned using the victim’s average daily wages. This Per Diem method is normally not used.
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