pain and suffering damages

If you pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you may receive “economic” and “non-economic damages.” Economic damages, including medical expenses and lost income, have specific dollar amounts. Pain and suffering damages, considered “non-economic damages,”are more subjective but can enormously impact your life.

Clients and potential clients often ask lawyers to estimate the value of their claims at the outset.  This is almost always impossible to do.  It will take time to develop and understand the facts of your case and the nature of your injuries before a lawyer can accurately estimate the range of your settlement or verdict value.  It is often critical to ensure you are done treating for your injuries, and have either fully recovered or reached maximum improvement, before even making the first demand to insurance companies.

Nonetheless, everyone is curious about how their damages may ultimately be measured.  This blog entry provides some general rules of thumb, even though no case is alike when measuring damages.

Types of Pain and Suffering Damages

Accident victims often experience both physical and emotional pain and suffering. Physical pain may be long-lasting or permanent and can be caused by both the injuries and the medical procedures used to treat them. Emotional pain includes a wide range of types of suffering, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, grief, worry, and loss of enjoyment of life.

How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Measured

You don’t have to file a separate pain and suffering lawsuit to receive compensation for your non-economic damages. Instead, you pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and physical and emotional pain and suffering all in the same lawsuit or claim.

Insurance adjusters are likely to go by formulas when it comes to measuring your damages. Here are some examples.

The Multiplier Method

The most common way that insurance adjusters measure pain and suffering damages is to use the multiplier method. They take the total of the economic damages – typically medical expenses and lost income – and multiply it by a number that is usually between one and five. The number used depends on the severity of your injuries.

For example, if you have $10,000 in medical bills and $5,000 in lost wages, that totals $15,000. If your injuries are moderately severe, the number used as a multiplier might be three. So, three times $15,000 equals $45,000, which is the amount the parties might agree to as fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Add that to the $15,000 for your economic damages, and your total award in this example would be $60,000.

The Per Diem Method

A second way to measure pain and suffering damages is the per diem method. A specific daily dollar amount gets chosen based on the severity and impact of your injuries. This amount would be multiplied by the number of days from the time of your accident until you reach your maximum medical recovery.

For example, if the per diem rate is $100, and you are expected to need 700 days to reach the maximum recovery point, your pain and suffering damages would equal $100 multiplied by 700, or $70,000.

Maine law forbids juries to apply “per diem,” damages, so this method is not likely to be used in Maine.

Additional Considerations

Insurance companies may use other methods of calculating pain and suffering damages. Even when using the multiplier method or the per diem method, the results may only provide rough estimates. The calculated amount of compensation may need to be adjusted up or down. One critical factor in determining the size of your damages is whether or not your injuries are likely to be permanent and to cause pain, limitation, or disfigurement (scarring) in the future.  Another important factor is whether you have done your best to get better and followed medical advice; we always remind our clients that they must do their best to get themselves better.  When it comes to pain and suffering damages, that may include seeking counseling or other mental health therapy.  

An experienced Garmey Law personal injury lawyer can help you pursue pain and suffering damages that fairly reflect the full extent of the physical and emotional challenges you face because of your injuries both now and in the future. 

Proving Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering damages may be invisible on the outside, but that does not mean they are not real.  A good lawyer will understand how to prove pain and suffering damages, including whether an expert should be hired to help articulate them. One good method to substantiate your pain and suffering damages is through meticulous documentation of your feelings and experiences. It is advisable to maintain a detailed written journal to chronicle your emotional and physical state regularly. Additionally, capturing photographs of any visible injuries can serve as visual evidence to support your claims. Moreover, communicating openly with your healthcare providers about your well-being and symptoms ensures that this crucial information is accurately recorded in your medical files, strengthening your compensation case.

Get the Help You Need From Trusted Maine Personal Injury Lawyers 

At Garmey Law, we are committed to helping accident victims like you get fair compensation for all the expenses, losses, pain, and suffering you have to deal with because of someone else’s negligence. For a free consultation, call us at (207) 481-4683, or contact us through our website.