Person treating arm wound

How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

You might have heard about a person getting a jury verdict that included pain and suffering damages, but you might not know precisely what this type of compensation is or how it gets calculated. Pain and suffering damages are in addition to other kinds of compensation a person might recover after getting injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault. Other kinds of compensation could include medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We will walk through a quick overview of pain and suffering damages, but if you want to know more information about how pain and suffering damages get calculated, or you would like to pursue compensation from someone whose negligence caused you harm, you might want to talk to a California personal injury attorney.

What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering compensation refers to the physical discomfort or pain of an injury, and the emotional suffering associated with a person’s wounds and the consequences of those injuries. It can be quite distressing to realize that you have severe injuries and not know if you will ever be the same again. Pain and suffering also can involve the inconvenience of experiencing an accident, getting injured, missing work, and having to undergo medical treatments just to get back to the place you were before.

This type of compensation in personal injury cases sometimes gets called a non-economic or intangible loss. In contrast, out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills or direct financial hardship like lost wages get referred to as economic damages. Calling pain and suffering damages an intangible or non-economic loss does not imply that these things do not have a financial value. 

It is easier to put a dollar value on economic losses because they tend to have documentation like bills or employment records that assign a monetary value to them. We can determine the financial value of intangible losses, but it will take some calculation.

Two Most Common Ways to Calculate the Amount of Pain and Suffering Damages

Courts in California have multiple methods for determining the amount of damages to award for pain and suffering and personal injury cases. Here are two of the more common methods:

  • Per diem formula. The personal injury attorney asks the jury to use a daily rate equivalent to the financial value of the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. The jury will then determine how many days the plaintive has already suffered and is likely to suffer in the future. At that point, it is simple multiplication. This method is useful when the medical bills are lower but the victim has suffered intense pain or endured pain for a long time. If a person has chronic pain that is expected to continue for the rest of their life, a daily rate of $200 with a life expectancy of 35 more years would result in an award of around $2.5 million in pain and suffering. 
  • Multiplier formula. This is the standard method that gets used in many personal injury cases. The jury will multiply the out-of-pocket losses like medical expenses and lost wages by a factor, typically between 1.5 and 4, to get the amount of pain and suffering damages. A person with $50,000 in medical bills and lost wages who has a jury-assigned factor of 3 would likely get a pain and suffering damages award of $150,000. 

Pain and suffering money damages are above and beyond the payment of out-of-pocket expenses for the reason of fairness. Merely getting your medical bills and lost wages paid does not begin to compensate you for inconvenience, pain, or emotional distress for an accident that happened because of someone else’s carelessness. You can talk with a California personal injury attorney about pain and suffering damages and other types of compensation you might be able to pursue if you got hurt because if someone else’s negligence. For help with your case get in touch with our office today, we gladly offer a free consultation.