How Much Is My Pain and Suffering Worth?
October 14, 2023
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
The injuries stemming from an accident can have far-reaching impacts on your life. If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, whether a truck crash, a slip and fall accident, a workplace accident, or another type of incident, you may have the legal right to seek compensation for the losses you’ve experienced. The law divides these injury-induced losses into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
As the name implies, economic damages include the tangible financial losses you’ve incurred due to your accident. This category includes medical expenses, lost wages, property repair and replacement costs, and other expenses you’ll receive bills for throughout your recovery. These damages are relatively easy to calculate because you have records documenting the amount you spent.
Non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering damages, can be more challenging to calculate as part of your settlement because they are less clear-cut. This category includes the physical discomfort, mental anguish, and other serious effects your injuries have caused in your daily life and relationships. While it may be more complex than adding up the total of your expenses, determining fair compensation for your pain and suffering is critical and can significantly impact your life and recovery. A knowledgeable California personal injury lawyer can explain what you should know about pain and suffering damages and how they can affect your claim’s settlement value.
What are Examples of Pain and Suffering Following a Personal Injury?
Pain and suffering can refer to a wide range of emotional and physical aftereffects related to the experience of the accident itself and the resulting injuries. The extent of the pain and suffering experienced is highly individual to each victim, so it is vital for accident survivors to carefully track their feelings and the day-to-day challenges they face through a journal or other means. This record can prove compelling in supporting your case’s valuation.
Examples of pain and suffering that an accident victim may experience include:
- Current and future limitations to their physical abilities and capability to perform daily tasks.
- Long-term disability that affects their career, home life, and relationships.
- Chronic pain or discomfort.
- Cognitive changes, including memory loss.
- Reductions in quality of life.
- Scarring or disfigurement that could be a source of physical and mental distress.
- Mental health effects, such as anxiety, depression, or phobias.
- Accident-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of life’s enjoyment.
- Difficulties in eating or sleeping.
- Severe mood swings or personality changes.
- Shame, fear, humiliation, or other negative emotions related to the accident itself.
How Can a Compensatory Value for Pain and Suffering Be Calculated?
It can feel complicated to place a monetary value on your pain and suffering. While a dollar amount doesn’t accurately portray the full impact of these life-changing challenges on you and your family, calculating a fair settlement value can help ensure you have the money you need to get the proper care and treatment you need now and in the future. Personal injury attorneys utilize different calculation methods to arrive at a value for your pain and suffering damages. The following are two of the most common calculation methods.
Per Diem Method
In the per diem method, your pain and suffering is assigned a daily value. That value is then multiplied by the number of days it took or is expected to take you to recover from the injury. For example, if your per diem amount for your pain and suffering is $100 and it took 90 days to recover fully, your pain and suffering claim value would be $9000. For this method, it is crucial to ensure you’ve reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI) level or be certain your doctors have a clear idea of the extent and duration of your injuries so you can accurately estimate your claim amount.
The multiplier method takes into account that not all accident injuries lead to the same levels of pain and difficulties with daily life. Permanent injuries, such as the limb amputation or paralysis, will have a more significant impact on an individual long-term than broken ribs or lacerations that will heal. To use the multiplier method, your lawyer calculates your economic damages and multiplies them by a variable ranging from 1.5 to 5. Higher multipliers are associated with more severe, longer-lasting injuries, while lower multipliers are used for short-term or less serious injuries. For example, if you had $10,000 in economic damages with a multiplier of 2, then your pain and suffering damages would total $20,000.
Many factors play into determining the suitable variable for your case, and your lawyer can explain how they arrived at their specific calculations.
Does California Have a Cap on Non-Economic Damages?
Some states place statutory limits on non-economic damages in personal injury cases. California only caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Even this cap has been increased under recent legislation and will continue to increase yearly to account for inflation until it reaches a cap of $750,000 for malpractice cases that do not involve wrongful death. If you have questions or concerns about the value of the pain and suffering damages in your case, you should speak to a trusted lawyer who can provide up-to-date information on state laws.
How Can Our Law Firm Assist You?
Determining a fair amount for pain and suffering damages is more akin to an art than a mathematical formula. While formulas are employed as part of the final calculations, much of the valuation process is subjective and must be sensitive to the effects of many variables on the victim and their family.
At the Law Offices of Preston Easley, we work closely with clients to uncover the full extent of the accident and the resultant injuries on their lives. We can then collect supporting evidence and expert opinions to bolster our calculations. This personalized effort and our attention to detail can allow us to help you recover the maximum compensation you’re entitled to. Contact our law firm today at 310-361-9484 to schedule a free consultation to learn more.