Finding yourself in a situation where you’ve been injured is never pleasant. Within the blink of an eye, your entire world can change, leaving countless things coated in a film of uncertainty. Compounding the difficulty of establishing a new sense of normalcy, financial burdens can unexpectedly mount. The added stress of paying for new treatments, medications, or services can almost be too much to bear. Luckily, means of compensation for these new, unplanned challenges exist through the form of compensatory damages related to pain and suffering. Since every situation is unique, the following serves as a guide to interacting with the pain and suffering multiplier method.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering, in terms of legal compensation, falls into two categories:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
Physical Pain and Suffering
Physical pain and suffering refers to the physical injuries of the plaintiff. This applies to the discomfort and pain a claimant has been subjected to as a result of the accident. It also applies to any long-term effects from the accident caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Mental Pain and Suffering
This stems from the psychological toll that the physical injuries or trauma the accident causes. Mental pain and suffering can include the loss of enjoyment in life, new anxiety issues, fear, or emotional distress. Embarrassment stemming from changes in physical or mental abilities also falls under mental pain and suffering. In general, defining mental pain and suffering encompasses negative emotions associated with the accident and its aftereffects. Your personal injury attorney will help you figure out what mental pain and suffering damages you may be entitled to.
If severe enough, mental pain and suffering can lead to depression, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances, and sudden mood swings. The most severe cases of mental pain and suffering can even fall into a classification of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Along the same vein as physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering includes not only the current effects, but any long-term difficulties and future struggles.
Pain and Suffering Examples
Here’s a hypothetical situation that can explain pain and suffering in its various forms:
If someone gets into a serious car accident and suffers multiple fractures along with a head injury, this person would have to deal with not only the physical damage to their body, but the change in lifestyle that the injuries caused. Depression could result from these sudden and unwanted changes. While suffering from depression the person could experience loss of appetite and sleep issues, leading to the need for professional counseling.
If the pain and suffering is so severe that the individual is unable to return to work once they have physically healed, they may claim damages related to lost wages as a result of the accident.
Since all of these issues stem from the accident, the injured individual is entitled to compensation for his/her mental pain and suffering.
What Doesn’t Count As Pain And Suffering?
Not everything associated with an accident or personal injury claim can be considered pain and suffering.
Items defined as medical expenses will rarely fall into the category of pain and suffering. While they factor into the damages calculations, they fall into a different category.
For something to qualify as pain and suffering, a general concept of the loss of comfort or happiness needs to be addressed..
The concept of pain and suffering addresses the overall loss of comfort, happiness and opportunity that usually follows an accident.
Per Diem Calculation vs Pain and Suffering Multiplier
Pain and suffering calculations commonly come from the use of two methods: Multiplier and Per Diem.
Per Diem Calculation
Per Diem calculations formulate by assigning a dollar amount to every day that a plaintiff experiences their injuries. If someone had medical expenses totaling $100,000 and it took them 100 days to fully recover physically, then their daily rate or “per diem” would amount to $1000/day. The per diem rate is then multiplied by total days spent experiencing pain and suffering. Medical bills, pay statements, and receipts serve as documentation to validate how an attorney developed the per diem rate.
Pain and Suffering Multiplier Calculation
Most commonly, attorneys use the pain and suffering multiplier method. With this method, a total of economic damages is calculated through existing medical bills, lost wage potential, and estimated future expenses. This amount then gets multiplied by a factor ranging from 1.5 – 5.
The Pain and Suffering Multiplier variable depends on many factors. These factors can include:
- Injury type
- Injury severity
- Chances of full recovery
- Injury impact on the daily life of the victim
- Percentage of fault assigned to the liable party
Example of Pain and Suffering Multiplier Calculation
If an individual had a car accident and suffered economic damages totaling $10,000, and the pain and suffering multiplier assigned equaled “2”, then total pain and suffering damages would come to $20,000. This, along with the economic damages of $10,000, would mean the individual’s total compensation would equal $30,000.
How Is The Pain and Suffering Multiplier Calculated?
A general rule of thumb for pain and suffering multiplier calculations deals with the severity of the injuries sustained. The more severe the injuries, the higher the pain and suffering multiplier. If an individual will suffer from long-term repercussions of their accident, the damages and settlement will be higher. For instance, someone suffering from paralysis will have a higher multiplier than someone with a broken wrist.
What Raises the Pain And Suffering Multiplier?
While no strictly defined rules for setting a pain and suffering multiplier exist, there following factors influence the amount decided upon.
- Did the injury impact the plaintiff’s daily life?
- Does the injury come with long-lasting issues?
- Does pain and suffering have an impact on the emotional well-being of the plaintiff?
- Will the plaintiff require specialized treatments, such as home health, medical devices, or rehabilitation services?
- How long will the healing process take for the plaintiff?
How Do You Prove Pain And Suffering?
Aside from physical evidence that an injury has occurred, an attorney will employ various forms of documentation to prove that pain and suffering took place. These documents can include:
- Medical bills
- Physician records
- Expert testimony on a plaintiff’s condition
- Pictures of injuries
- Psychiatric records
All of these documents serve their own purpose in showing the extent of trauma experienced.
Pain and Suffering Settlements
First and foremost, in order to properly negotiate a suitable settlement, a personal injury attorney uses the evidence collected over the course of the recovery process and makes the case for a justifiable amount.
When dealing with an insurance company, keep in mind that a lower pain and suffering multiplier works to their benefit. Catastrophic injury claims especially face scrutiny and resistance from insurance companies. By working with a skilled attorney, you can ensure that your claim reaches its maximum value.
Insurance companies invariably use the lowest multiplier, which underscores the need for competent legal representation, especially in auto accident claims resulting in catastrophic injury. A skilled car accident lawyer will know the soundest strategies for maximizing the value of a claim.
Need Help With A Pain and Suffering? Contact Greenwald Law Firm Today.
If you have been involved in a car accident or other personal injury scenario and need qualified representation, look no further than the Greenwald Law Firm. The seasoned litigators at Greenwald can help you maximize your settlement and get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (318) 219-7867 or leave us a message on our website.