The purpose of filing a personal injury claim is to recoup damages that resulted from the incident. Unfortunately, the costs associated with personal injuries are not always black and white. These damages are generally grouped into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are the tangible costs associated with the case. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, future treatment, property damage, and more. On the other hand, non-economic damages do not have a clear price tag attached. These damages involve decreased quality of life, loss of companionship, and more prominently, pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify. In this post, we want to discuss how to place a clear value on pain and suffering to earn the compensation you deserve.
Let’s dive in.
1. The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is the most common way to calculate pain and suffering in a personal injury claim. In a nutshell, this approach involves adding up all the “special damages”, then multiplying the total by a number between 1.5 and 5.
Let’s unpack this, shall we?
The “special damages” refer to the economic damages with clear price tags. This would include your medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and so on. Now, the “multiplier” refers to the severity of your injuries – with 1.5 on the low end and 5 on the high end. The multiplier is typically determined based on the recovery process and the degree of fault/negligence of the other party.
For example, say you suffered a concussion and a broken arm from a truck accident. The lingering effects of the concussion combined with being in a cast for six weeks prevented you from performing your job. You rate the severity of your injury a 3.
Medical expenses were $2,000 and lost wages equated to $6,000 – bringing the total economic damages to $8,000. With the multiplier being 3, the pain and suffering would equate to $24,000. From here, you add the original economic damages to the pain and suffering damages, bringing the total compensation demand to $32,000.
Keep in mind, the multiplier will almost always be challenged by the other party. Insurance companies usually accept a multiplier of one or two times the economic damages.
2. The Per Diem Method
The per diem method – or the “per day” method – is used to quantify pain and suffering with a daily cost. An easy way to keep your daily rate reasonable is to base it on your earnings. Having to deal with pain caused by the injury is compared to the effort needed to go to work.
So let’s put this in perspective. Say you get in a car accident and are forced to wear a neck brace and take pain medication for two months. You continue to face pain for another month after, equaling 90 total days of pain and suffering. You make $50,000 per year, which boils down to $200/day for 250 working days.
The per diem method would take that $200/day rate and multiply it by the 90 days of pain and suffering; bringing the total compensation demand to $30,000.
The per diem method doesn’t usually work for long-term injuries. Additionally, the insurance company of the at-fault party will almost certainly dispute this rate. You’ll need a skilled personal injury attorney to help you seek fair compensation.
3. Understanding What You’re Owed for Your Damages
Tallying up all the damages – economic and non-economic – is the focus of every personal injury case. Documentation is going to be the key factor in placing a value on your damages. The records you need include (but are not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Estimates for future treatment
- Pay stubs
- Repair invoices for property damages
- Bills and insurance papers
- Correspondence with insurance companies
Your attorney will advise you on all the documentation to gather and organize. From here, they will help you add up all the damages you’ll seek in the claim.
There are online calculators you can use to get an estimate of what your personal injury claim might be worth. While this will give you a ballpark idea, it’s always best to partner with a skilled attorney who has worked on cases like yours and understands the laws that factor in.
4. Collecting Evidence to Support Your Personal Injury Claim
Adding up all the damages you will seek in the personal injury claim is only part of the battle. Earning fair compensation comes down to evidence. Generally, the more evidence you have to attribute liability to the at-fault party, the more likely you are to recoup the damages.
You’ll want to collect as much evidence as possible immediately after the accident occurs. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Photos of the accident
- Police reports
- Eyewitness contact information
- Insurance information of the at-fault party
- The medical team’s assessment
After the accident, your attorney will look for more detailed evidence. This may include statements from eyewitnesses, traffic camera footage, insurance claims, medical records, and so on.
Every personal injury case is different. Your attorney will do everything possible to attribute liability and earn compensation for all your damages.
Quantifying pain and suffering is one of the trickiest aspects of personal injury cases. Since there is no clear price tag, the defendant’s legal team and the insurance company will likely fight these figures tooth and nail.
This is why it’s so important to hire a personal injury attorney – rather than fighting the case on your own. Insurance companies have all kinds of tricks to minimize liability. They have no problem taking advantage of victims. Personal injury attorneys know how to avoid these tricks and earn the maximum compensation.
Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means victims do not pay a penny out-of-pocket – as they make a percentage of the total settlement. In other words, anyone can hire a personal injury lawyer to handle their case.
Samuel R. Carl is the co-founder of Midwest Injury Lawyers, a full-service personal injury law firm that specializes in serious accidents involving car accidents, bike accidents, nursing home abuse, medical negligence. With over 10 years of experience in the personal injury law field, Sam spent years protecting the rights of injured victims and their families, securing millions of dollars for his clients through jury verdicts and settlements.