What Methods Are Used to Establish Damages?
When you have sustained any type of injury or loss because of the wrongful conduct of another person or entity, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking full and fair compensation for all your losses. Some of those damages, known as “economic damages,” will be relatively easy to calculate. Lost wages and income, unreimbursed medical expenses and property damage are fairly simple to document, using pay stubs, medical bills and sales receipts, among other documents. But the so-called “non-economic” damages are generally more uncertain and can be difficult to determine. Among those types of damages are those for pain and suffering.
What Is Pain and Suffering as Related to a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The concept of “pain and suffering” refers to a real, but somewhat intangible, consequence of personal injury. It is essentially an acknowledgment that the injuries you have suffered have resulted in physical and/or emotional distress, discomfort or loss, and that you would not have experienced those feelings had the defendant not acted negligently and caused the accident. Pain and suffering may include actual physical pain, but it can also result from physical impairment, grief, anger, depression, embarrassment, humiliation, loss of dignity, or disfigurement.
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering?
Evidence to support a claim for pain and suffering can come from:
- The written opinions of psychologists, psychiatrists or other mental health professionals, as well as from medical doctors who work with chronic pain
- The list of medications required to manage your pain, including indications of how long you need to use those medications
- Documentation of all pain-related visits to medical professionals, including mental health specialists
- The testimony of family and friends who see the daily impact of pain on your life
How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Though you can document the number of doctor visits, as well as the medications required to alleviate your pain, that does not fully address the impact of pain and suffering on your daily life. Because these damages are mostly intangible, courts have developed a number of different approaches to help juries calculate compensation for pain and suffering.
First, though, the courts will typically factor in the following considerations:
- The extent to which the defendant’s actions were egregiously negligent or careless
- The nature and severity of the injuries sustained
- The affect the injuries have on your daily life
- The prognosis for healing—whether you can be expected to fully recover and, if so, how long that is anticipated to take
- The medical treatment you need, now and in the future
Once those factors have been assessed, the court will typically take one of two approaches:
- The multiplier method—Here, the court determines the full amount of economic damages. Next, the court identifies a “multiplier,” based primarily on the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct and the severity of the injury. The multiplier is commonly some number between one and ten. The court will then multiply the amount of economic damages by that factor/multiplier to determine damages for pain and suffering. For example, if the court decides to use a multiplier of 3 and the total economic damages are $500,000, the damages for pain and suffering will be $1,500,000 (3 x $500,000).
- The per diem method—”Per diem” is the Latin phrase for “per day.” With this approach, the court establishes a cash value for every day of suffering and simply multiplies the per diem by the number of days of pain and suffering.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law offices of Bailey & Galyen, we will aggressively help you pursue full and fair compensation when you have suffered any type of loss because of the carelessness or negligence of another person. contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.