By: Emily Stringer
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Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
If you’ve been injured in an accident as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to damages which is money paid out to pay for non-economic issues such as pain and suffering. Since there is no tangible price tag on psychological problems resulting from an accident, personal injury lawyers can help calculate a payout.
Pain and suffering is physical and mental anguish caused by an injury, including physical damage to the body like a fractured skull; discomfort caused by more subtle sources, like aches; temporary or permanent restrictions on activity; the shortening of your or a loved one’s life; mental anguish like depression; embarrassment like that from burning or scarring; or anything else caused by the accident that is not a welcomed repercussion.
Damages in a personal injury are either general or special damages.
General damages are not monetary, and include for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional trauma. There is no price tag on these, but the injured party deserves compensation.
Special damages are damages that one can easily place a monetary value on, like medical expenses or lost wages. These are the out-of-pocket expenses. Since these types of economic damages can be easily calculated, they are often the more easy to obtain damages.
Personal injury claims involve both types of damages which makes it difficult to put an exact value on the pain and suffering. Personal injury lawyers calculate damages with several methods.
The “Multiplier” Method
This is the most common method used when calculating damages. This method multiplies the injured party’s actual economic damages by three. For example, if your medical bills are $5,000 and your lost wages were $1,000, you would multiply the sum of your actual damages ($6,000) by 3 for a total of $18,000.
The multiplier is often larger when a more serious accident is involved such as in cases of drunk driving or numerous injuries.
The Daily Rate Method
The daily rate method is used to calculate damages using a per diem formulation where a specific amount of money is paid for each day the injured party suffers from the results of the accident.
For example, if medical bills equaled $5,000 and lost income was $1,000, that is a total of $6,000. If you make $200 per day, and are out of work due to injuries for three months, multiple 90 days (3 months) by $200 to reach $18,000 as the total amount of damages.
When filing a personal injury claim, you’ll be working with your lawyer, insurance company, and the other party to come up with the figures and how they will be calculated.