Auto Accident Pain and Suffering Calculator

Auto Accident Pain and Suffering

During an auto accident claim, there are many different damages that a victim or their attorney must first identify before moving forward with calculating the total amount. Some damages are easier to calculate than others; for example, calculating a victim’s total medical bills simply involves gathering all of these bills and invoices and totaling the amount. However, there are many personal injury damages that are not so simple to calculate, such as potential future financial losses, as well as the tricky subject of the non-economic damage known as “pain and suffering.” 

How can anyone put a dollar value on something as abstract and subjective as the pain of a broken bone? Fortunately, personal injury attorneys excel at this process. They will be able to handle these calculations on your behalf before going through aggressive negotiations to reach a settlement agreement or build a lawsuit that accurately reflects the impacts you have endured as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless driving

Negotiating Pain and Suffering Damages With an Insurer

This article is meant to give a high-level explanation of a few of the common ways that non-economic damages like pain and suffering are calculated, but the reality is that reaching a figure is only the start. Once a victim reaches a calculation for their total damages, including both economic and non-economic, they will submit a demand letter to the insurer laying out these damages and presenting a total figure they believe they are owed. It is doubtful that the insurer will accept this figure outright, and often this is just the start of an ongoing negotiation to reach a settlement agreement. 

Insurers are focused on settling claims for as little money as possible. They will leverage the complexity of tort law to overwhelm a claimant, even resorting to tactics that many would characterize as bullying. To further complicate matters, this is all taking place while the claimant is trying to recover from their injuries, return to work, juggle countless disruptions to their personal lives, and more, which is why many people (without the support of an attorney) accept settlements for much less than what they deserve. 

Understanding the basics of calculating pain and suffering is a great way to keep tabs on your claim. Working with an experienced attorney is one of the best ways to ensure that you are taking all of the necessary steps to get what you deserve. 

Common Methods For Calculating Non-Economic Damages In Personal Injury Cases

The following examples are two of the most common ways that damages such as pain and suffering are calculated, and one is typically preferable in a specific situation depending on things like whether or not the victim is of working age, whether or not their medical bills play a significant factor in economic damage amounts and more. Your attorney will decide the calculation method they use based on which will lead to the most amount of money for your situation. 

Calculating Non-Economic Damages: The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is a common way to calculate damages for victims with significant medical bills, ongoing lost wages, or both. This is because the total non-economic damages are directly based on the total cost of economic damages. If the victim is retired, below working age, or has not accrued significant medical bills but has — or continues to — suffered from significant pain and suffering, this may not be the best method; however, a victim with significant medical bills, lost wages, and other economic damages — as well as a number of non-economic damages — this is an excellent method to use. 

The multiplier method requires that the victim’s economic damages are totaled first, and then all of the non-economic damages are laid out to be quantified. Quantifying these damages uses a scale, typically between 1.5 and 5, to indicate their severity. Once a reasonable number along the scale is determined, this number is multiplied against the total economic damages to translate these non-economic impacts into understandable dollar values. 

For example: if a victim has a total of $100,000 in economic damages between medical bills, lost wages, services paid for, and more, and they are experiencing non-economic damages of 3, then the multiplier method will calculate the non-economic damages as $100,000 x 3 = $300,000 in non-economic damages. 

Remember that you will need to provide ample support for the multiplier you choose, such as medical records, journals or notes about daily pain, and more. The more supporting evidence you and your attorney can gather, the stronger your case will be as you negotiate a final settlement or decide to move forward with a lawsuit. 

Calculating Non-Economic Damages: The “Per Diem” Method

When using the “per diem” method to calculate non-economic damages, a victim and their attorney will determine a daily rate and then seek compensation for the number of days it takes for the victim to make a full recovery. For this reason, the per diem method is not optimal for permanent or long-term injuries; however, injuries that you will recover from in a reasonable scope of time may be addressed by this calculation. 

With the per diem method, a victim and their attorney will determine what they believe to be a fair and reasonable daily rate based on income or other factors, and then estimate the number of days they believe it will take to make a full recovery. In some cases, negotiations run longer than the recovery period, so there is ultimately no speculation for that part of the calculation. 

For example: if a victim and their attorney have reached a daily rate of $200 and it takes 100 days to fully recover from their pain and suffering for something like a fracture, the calculation is $200 x 100 = $20,000 in non-economic damages. 

Choosing The Right Calculation Method

As you can imagine by these brief explanations, there is no perfect method, but that does not mean that you and your attorney will not be able to land on an optimal method to ensure that you are fighting for the most money you are entitled to. Countless factors go into deciding which to use, and working with an experienced auto accident lawyer is one of the best ways to make this determination while staying focused on your recovery.