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How Is Pain & Suffering Calculated?

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If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, the road to recovery can be long and fraught with more than just physical pain. There's an emotional toll that these incidents take, and the law recognizes this by allowing for compensation for pain and suffering.

Understanding how pain and suffering are assessed can empower personal injury victims to pursue appropriate compensation to alleviate their hardship. While monetary restitution often cannot fully compensate for the emotional turmoil and pain caused by a personal injury accident, it can provide valuable assistance.

What Is Pain & Suffering?

Before delving into calculations, what exactly is pain and suffering? Broadly, it encompasses the physical pain and emotional distress a victim endures as a result of an injury.

As stated by Cornell Law School, pain and suffering are noneconomic damages and "refers to the pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma that accompanies an injury."

Calculating Pain & Suffering

The methods used to put a dollar figure on pain and suffering aren't straightforward and typically require experienced legal insight. It also depends if we are looking at calculating pain and suffering before a case is litigated (i.e. a lawsuit filed and a trial is ultimately had) or during settlement efforts. During settlement, typically the injured party (or his/her attorney) will provide a “demand” to the insurance adjuster handling the claim. From there, the insurance carrier (often assisted by claim-valuation software) will also calculate the value of pain and suffering. The two valuations are rarely-if-ever the same. If a case is tried, the “trier of fact” (often a jury—but sometimes a judge) will determine the value of pain and suffering. Often pain and suffering is evaluated looking backwards and forwards on the timeline (past pain and suffering and future pain and suffering). And, often pain and suffering is broken down into physical and emotional (or mental) pain and suffering. Two common methods employed by attorneys, juries, judges and insurance companies are:

Per Diem Method

Per diem, Latin for "per day," assigns a dollar amount to every day you experience pain from your injury. This method takes into consideration the daily impact on an individual's life and multiplies the daily rate by the number of days you have been affected.

For example, if you experience pain for 50 days at a rate of $100, the settlement amount for pain and suffering would potentially be $5,000. Per diem can also be applied to the future and often will look at the sufferer’s life-expectancy (how long it is anticipated they will live) to aid with calculations.

The Multiplier Method

This method begins with the total sum of your actual damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) and assigns a multiplier based on the severity of your suffering. This multiplier may range from 1 to 5 and scales with the gravity of the injury. The higher the multiplier, the higher the severity.

For example, if you incur $100,000 in damages and your multiplier is 2, your pain and suffering value amount would be $200,000. This method is much less often used now than in history—largely because of the cost associated with treatment (and may be complicated by the difference between what is charged for medical care versus what is actually paid by, for example, a health insurance carrier).

However, while these models can provide a rough estimate, it's crucial to bear in mind that it's always advisable to collaborate with a personal injury attorney. They can thoroughly investigate your individual case and diligently advocate for the compensation you rightfully deserve.

What Is the Average Settlement Amount for Pain & Suffering?

The average settlement can vary greatly and depends on the specifics of each case. Factors come into play such as the severity and permanence of the injury, the impact on one's life and employment, the skill with which a lawyer presents the case, the location where the injury occurred (pain and suffering calculations very greatly across time and across locations).

Cases with similar circumstances can result in significantly different resolutions. This is due to variations in injury severity, complications, damages, liability, etc. As such, if you are looking for a better estimate of potential damages you may be entitled to, please reach out to our team at Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC.

Is There a Cap on Pain & Suffering Damages in Kentucky?

While many jurisdictions have “caps” on the amount an individual can claim in pain and suffering, in Kentucky, there are no caps on damages for pain and suffering in personal injury cases. This means that the courts and jury have no upper limit to consider when awarding damages—each case is valued on its own merits.

Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyer

While understanding the basics of how pain and suffering are calculated is a start, navigating the process of securing fair compensation is complex. If you are seeking representation or need advice on your personal injury claim, it's prudent to contact a professional who can guide you through this difficult period.

For personalized assistance and care, contact our personal injury lawyer today. We have handled many cases such as trucking accidents, auto accidents, boating accidents, and more.

Pain and suffering are more than just legal terms—they're real experiences that should be acknowledged and compensated fairly.

Contact our team today at (502) 242-8877 or message us online.

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