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How is compensation calculated for pain and suffering?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Car Accidents

If you’ve been involved in a car accident or suffered another personal injury, you have the right to seek compensation (also known as damages) in a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party. Some damages – such as medical bills, lost wages and property damage – are fairly easy to calculate because they involve objective costs and losses that you have incurred. These are known as economic damages.

But how do you place a dollar value on something like pain and suffering? While they have no fixed costs, the harms of pain and suffering are nonetheless very real for you. Therefore, it is important that you receive adequate compensation. In this post, we’ll discuss how pain and suffering are often calculated.

There is no required formula or single standard

Pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages. According to California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 3905A., there isn’t a required method to use when calculating non-economic damages. Instead, jurors are instructed to use their judgement and common sense to determine a reasonable amount of compensation.

There may be no mandated method, but there some commonly used formulas, two of which are discussed below.

Employing the ‘multiplier method’

As mentioned above, economic damages are fairly easy to calculate and are considered objective. Therefore, they can be used as a starting point to determine pain and suffering. When using the multiplier method, you would take the total amount of economic damages and multiply it by a number that is typically between one and five.

If the accident resulted in relatively mild injuries that were likely to fully heal, you might use a multiplier of one or two. If the injuries were severe and resulted in permanent disability or a lifetime of chronic pain, you would probably recommend a multiplier of four or five.

Personal injury attorneys will often use things like medical records, the opinions of medical professionals and testimony from victims and their loved ones to convey an accurate sense of pain and suffering.

Using the ‘per diem’ method

Per diem is a Latin phrase meaning “per day.” This is an alternate method for calculating pain and suffering. A dollar amount is determined for one day of your pain and suffering and then is multiplied by the number of days you experienced pain and suffering. The daily rate is often (but not always) determined by your average daily wages before becoming injured.

The attorney you hire makes a big difference

When suing for personal injury, your goal is likely to maximize your compensation. That is much easier to do when working with an experienced attorney who can prove that the other party was at fault and convincingly convey just how much you have lost and suffered as a result of your injuries.

Our attorneys at Woods Williford, P.C. have decades of experience in personal injury law and a strong track record of success both in and out of the courtroom. Contact us today to learn how we can help you during a free initial consultation.