Anyone who files a personal injury complaint will always include pain and suffering in his or her claim and ask for compensation for them. The thing is, pain and suffering are quite intangible and very subjective concepts. Assigning a reasonable monetary value to them could prove to be difficult for those who do not practice law. But for an experienced trial lawyer, calculating reasonable pain and suffering in personal injury cases is very doable. As long as they perform a very close examination of the accident that caused the injury, they can arrive at a figure that would be fair for everyone concerned.
So how do attorneys perform personal injury calculation for pain and suffering?
Defining pain and suffering
To define pain and suffering and other intangible losses, attorneys typically use the term, “general damages,” and it’s usually a part of any personal injury settlement. With the help of either the multiplier method or the per diem approach, they can put a monetary value to the economic and general damages associated with such a settlement.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is the most commonly used general damages calculator by lawyers and most insurance companies. It involves adding up all your special damages—the easily calculable losses such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.—and multiplying them by a number as low as 1.5 or as high as 5. This second number, referred to as the “multiplier,” will depend on several factors of the case. For example, minor injuries could only result in a multiplier of 1, while gross negligence could kick the multiplier way up to 5. The likelihood of your speedy recovery may also affect the multiplier. The same goes for the impact of your injuries on your daily activities.
Obviously enough, the goal of the complainant and his or her lawyer when using the multiplier method is to argue for a higher multiplier. The defendant or his insurance company, on the other hand, will try to find ways to see that multiplier go down.
The “Per Diem” Approach
With the “Per Diem” (each day in Latin) method, you will be asking for a certain dollar amount for every day that you are in pain because of the accident.
So let’s say you fractured your leg, and you’re forced to wear a cast for two months. You also had to take painkillers for three more months. That’s five months or approximately 150 days of pain and suffering that you had to endure. If you’re earning $40,000 a year, divide that figure by 250 working days per year, and you get a daily wage of $160 per day. Now multiply your $160 daily rate by 150 days, and you get $24,000 as your pain and suffering settlement.
This method, however, is not commonly used by lawyers because they often disagree on how to set the dollar amount for each day of pain and suffering. The per diem approach also wouldn’t work if the injuries are long term, if the accident caused permanent disability, or if the injuries caused the complainant to lose his or her earning capacity altogether. For this reason, lawyers often use the multiplier method to calculate general damages.
What’s clear is that you are going to need the services of a good personal injury lawyer if you’re suing for your pain and suffering. With one such attorney by your side, you have a better chance of winning a settlement that’s fair considering everything that you had to go through.