When you or someone you love suffer an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you are eligible to seek damages for your losses through the court system. The person or party who caused your injuries may owe you financial compensation for things like your medical bills, property damage, and paychecks lost from time off work. These are easily calculable. However, what about pain and suffering? How does the court determine something you cannot really count?
What is pain and suffering?
Physical pain can be immediate or delayed, as well as turn chronic. Chronic pain can last for weeks, months, or years, affecting quality of life. Some serious injuries that may qualify for a pain and suffering award include:
- Back and spine injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Burn injuries
- Chronic headaches
- Internal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
These types of injuries can cause severe emotional distress which can last for weeks or years, depending on the circumstances of the individual. Psychological pain and suffering can be as debilitating as a physical injury and can include:
- Anger and/or grief
- Cognitive issues following a TBI
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional or behavioral changes
- Fear and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Because every personal injury case and every person is unique, calculating pain and suffering damages can be complicated – which is why it is so important to have an experienced attorney on your side.
How are pain and suffering awards determined?
There are two popular methods for calculating pain and suffering in California:
- Multiplier approach. The multiplier formula takes the calculable part of your compensation, like medical expenses and lost wages, and determines pain and suffering by multiplying them by a certain number. Typically this multiplier is between one and five. The more serious your injuries, the higher the multiplier. This methodology is somewhat dated but it still used by insurance companies that pay these damages. Even if not the direct method, it can be used as a variable in their calculation of the ultimate number.
- Per diem approach. With the per diem approach, a dollar amount is assigned to each day you have been injured and is multiplied by the number of days your pain and suffering have existed and will continue. For example, if a jury assigns $1,000 to each day you were injured from a car crash and it took 60 days for you to reach maximum medical improvement, that jury could award would be $60,000. Of course, it is the job of the skilled attorney to use a method like this properly compensate you. Meaning, it is the skilled lawyer that argues what the daily rate should be, and the total time is should be awarded. There is no book or chart that sets these things in stone.
It is important to keep in mind that everyone’s injuries are different, and everyone’s healing time is different. Your attorney can help build a strong case to ensure you secure the proper compensation you are owed for your injuries.
The attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas work to take a personalized approach to your pain and suffering compensation and have arguing these exact cases to juries for decades. We protect the rights of injury victims in Los Angeles and throughout the state. Contact us today to schedule a remote review of your case. Call 310-474-1582, or reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
Please note that this blog is not to be construed as legal advice. Because every case is fact-specific, you should consult directly with an attorney to obtain legal advice specific to your situation.
For more than three decades, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has built a reputation as one of California’s leading law firms. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, John McNicholas and sons, Patrick and Matthew, have tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict on behalf of clients. Learn More about McNicholas & McNicholas