If you, or someone you love, experiences an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses through the judicial system. The person (or persons, party, or company) who caused your injuries and damages may be ordered to pay you financial restitution for compensable items like medical bills, treatment, damage to your vehicle, and any lost wages from time off work. These types of losses are easy to calculate.
However, how do attorneys and insurance companies calculate pain and suffering? As a victim of an accident, you are entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you endured from your injuries, but how does the court calculate a number for something that seems impossible to quantify?
What, exactly, is pain and suffering?
The term “pain and suffering” refers to both the physical and emotional injuries a person experiences from an accident, like a motor vehicle crash or an on-the-job injury, like out on the Oklahoma oilfield.
Physical pain is a tricky thing, as it can be immediate, or show up days or weeks later after the initial injury. For some, an injury that takes a second to occur will result in chronic pain lasting for years or even a lifetime. Common serious injuries that often qualify for pain and suffering awards include:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Burn injuries
- Chronic pain
- Internal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Wrongful death (to the family of the deceased)
Of course, this is only a partial list. Serious physical injuries can also cause emotional distress.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the specific person, psychological suffering can be just as debilitating – and sometimes worse – than a physical injury. Many survivors of serious injuries experience emotions and symptoms like:
- Cognitive issues, especially after a brain injury
- Depression and anxiety
- Difficulties or changes in sleep
- Emotional or behavioral changes
- Grief and anger
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Personal injury cases can vary widely in scope, and because every patient and person is different, calculating pain and suffering damages is almost like an art. Experienced attorneys understand how to take every expense and every aspect of your life that has been affected by your injury into account.
Calculating pain and suffering awards
Pain and suffering damages are typically determined in one of two ways:
(Past, present, and future medical bills) x (Multiplier) + (Total economic damages) = The value of your claim
This mathematical method uses a multiplier between 1.5 and 5, where the multiplier depends on the severity of your injuries. Because the insurance company will want to keep that number as close to 1.5 as possible, your attorney works to show the seriousness of your pain and suffering.
Per diem method
This method takes into account your daily amount of pain and suffering until you are able to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Per diem then translates that pain into compensation. For example, if the court sets the per diem at $100/day, and your medical team determines you will reach MMI in three years from the date of your injury, your pain and suffering award would be $109,500. (365 days x 3 = 1095 days x $100/day)
Pain and suffering can be disabling and debilitating. Allow the personal injury attorneys at Cunningham & Mears to help you secure the full amount of compensation you are owed and deserve. We represent injury victims in Oklahoma City and throughout the state. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our office call (405) 232-1212, or fill out the firm’s contact form to tell us about your case.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More