How is Pain and Suffering Determined?

Whether you have been injured in a car accident or due to a defective product, you’re probably wondering what your claim is worth. There are two main categories of damages (or losses that the at-fault party must compensate for you) available to the injured individual: economic (special) damages and noneconomic (general) damages.

Economic damages are easily calculable losses stemming from your accident or injury, such as your medical bills, your lost income due to missed time from work, your property damage, and any other out-of-pocket losses. On the other hand, noneconomic damages include things such as pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress.

So how do you put a dollar value on pain and suffering? Personal injury attorneys and insurance adjusters typically use one of two methods: the multiplier method and the daily rate method.

When using the multiplier method, you add up all the special damages and multiply those by a number between 1 (low end) and 4 or 5 (high end). The second number is known as the “multiplier,” which depends on a variety of factors related to your case, such as whether or not the other party was clearly at fault for the underlying accident, the severity of your injuries, your prospects for a fast and full recovery, and the effect of your injuries on your daily lifestyle.

The second approach is known as the “per diem” method, which means “per day” in Latin. The concept is to determine a specific dollar amount for every day you had to live with the pain caused by the accident. However, the difficult part is figuring out the daily rate you use. The best way to ensure your daily rate is “reasonable” is to use your actual, daily earnings. You could argue that having to deal with the pain caused by the underlying accident every day is at least comparable to the effort of working each day. However, this method would not work in cases involving long-term or permanent injuries.

Let’s say, for example, you suffered whiplash due to a rear-end car accident. Your doctor requires you to wear a neck brace and take pain medication for two months. You continue to suffer pain for an additional four months, for a total of six—roughly 180 days—of pain and discomfort. At your current, or most recent job, you earn $50,000 per year—that’s $200 per day when you divide your salary by 250 working days per year. To calculate pain and suffering using the per diem method in this case, just multiply your $200 daily rate by 180 days of pain, and you come up with $36,000.

If you have been injured by a negligent party in New York, contact Mardirossian & Associates, Inc. and request a free consultation with our Los Angeles personal injury attorney today.


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