Calculating Pain And Suffering
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
“Pain and Suffering” is often an element of personal injury claims and must somehow be reduced to a dollar figure for settlement negotiations. However, calculating the dollar value of pain and suffering can be difficult. Personal Injury lawyers use several formulas for that purpose.
One approach is the “multiplier method,” involving two steps. First, total your “special damages,” which are financial losses, such as: medical expenses, including medical expenses, billed and estimated; property damage; lost earnings, actual and estimated future. Secondly, multiply those “special damages” a number from 1.5 – 10, depending on the seriousness of your injury and other factors. The more serious the injury and the more factors you meet, the higher your multiplier will be. Multipliers normally fall between 1.5 and 5, so reaching one higher than 5 takes a serious injury and most/all factors like: the other party is obviously and chiefly at fault; treatment is mostly by physicians and hospitals, who clearly detect your injury; medical documentation shows you will somehow suffer permanent effects and will suffer future difficulties from the injury; and the injury is plainly painful and notable in that it requires surgery, takes 6 months or longer for recovery or cannot be fully repaired at all. Multiplying your “special damages” by the multiplier can give you a workable figure for negotiations.
A second approach is the “per diem” or daily rate method. Typically used for personal injuries that are not permanent or long-term, this simple method consists of determining a daily rate (often the amount of your daily work income) and multiplying that figure by the number of days you endured the pain. The logic of this method is that enduring pain is at least as tough as working; therefore, you use your daily working earnings as a workable figure.
A third method involves a hybrid of the first two methods. Calculate two figures for your damages, using the multiplier method for one figure and the per diem method for the second figure. Then adjust the starting figure for negotiations between those two figures, depending on the seriousness of the injury and your related costs. As you can see, determining a starting figure for negotiations is part cold calculation and part “work of art” to obtain a workable number.
By Kathy Catanzarite
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.