How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Personal Injury Claim?

by Staff | May 17th, 2021

When most people think of the expenses they’ll face after an injury that wasn’t their fault, they think of their medical bills and lost paychecks if they’re too hurt to go back to work. These expenses are called economic damages, and they’re often the most pressing, as they can affect victims’ ability to keep up with their everyday living expenses.

But there’s a second type of damages that victims often incur that are known as non-economic damages, or pain and suffering. You’ve probably seen or heard this phrase on billboards or in countless personal injury law firm commercials, but it’s not just a marketing term—it’s a real consequence for injured victims that should be compensated via their compensation claims.

Pain and Suffering is Calculated Based on Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are calculated by multiplying the amount of money awarded for medical bills and lost wages. The multiplier may be anywhere from 1.5 to 5 times the number of economic damages. The multiplier varies from case to case depending on a few factors, including:

  • The level of fault assigned to the other party
  • The type of injuries suffered, including whether they are catastrophic or disabling
  • The expected length of recovery from the injuries

Unfortunately, the amount of physical pain and emotional suffering a victim is experiencing isn’t always obvious from the outside. That means insurance companies and even juries, if a case goes to trial, may be reluctant to pay these damages to victims unless it’s clearly shown that their injuries significantly impacted their lives.

Injury Severity Plays a Big Role in Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

As the phrase implies, “pain and suffering” is calculated based on how much an injury impairs a victims’ quality of life. In other words, the more severe an injury is, the more pain and suffering it will cause a victim, and the more money they may be eligible to receive via the non-economic damages portion of their personal injury claim.

The length of time that an injury will affect a victim can also play a role in how much money they can receive for pain and suffering. That means that an injury that causes significant pain and suffering but that’s expected to heal within weeks or months may qualify the victim for less money than an injury with similar or less associated pain and suffering that’s expected to last for years or a lifetime.

The Injury’s Effect on Day-to-Day Life Also Impacts Compensation

Many injury victims find it difficult or impossible to enjoy hobbies and activities they cherished before their accidents. Others may even be unable to perform daily tasks such as eating, getting dressed, or bathing without assistance. The quality of life for these victims is extremely diminished by their injuries, and they should be fairly compensated for the hardship and loss of enjoyment of life they experience in their day-to-day lives.

Other victims may not experience significant physical impairment or disability, but they may suffer significantly due to mental trauma. For example, injuries can commonly cause psychological ailments such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Phobias
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to feel pleasure or joy

Even when victims experience little or no persistent physical pain after their injuries have healed, they may continue to suffer from mental trauma for years to come or even for the rest of their lives.

It’s Important to Have an Experienced Lawyer Assist with Pain and Suffering Damages

Because non-economic damages—aka pain and suffering—are calculated via a multiplier, and that multiplier can be subjective based on the severity of the injury, it’s vital to have a lawyer on your side who can clearly and confidently demonstrate how your injuries have and will continue to affect you. Without a lawyer, your chances of getting fair compensation for your pain and suffering decreases significantly, as the insurance company will push for the lowest multiplier, if it agrees to pay for non-economic damages at all!

At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, our Indiana personal injury lawyers work hard to help our clients get fairly paid for all aspects of their injuries, including their pain and suffering. We know that medical bills and lost wages are often just the tip of the iceberg for injured victims, and we believe they deserve full compensation for all the ways their accidents affect them, especially if it impacted their ability to live normally and enjoy life. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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