When you get into a serious car accident, or if you are injured because of a defective product or unsafe property, you can make a claim for pain and suffering. How much that claim is worth, however, can be difficult to answer. Generally, the more serious and longer-lasting your injuries are, the higher your personal injury claim is likely worth.
How is the value of my pain and suffering calculated?
There are two primary methods that are used to calculate the value of your personal injury claim: the multiplier method and the per diem method.
Like its name suggests, the multiplier method is a pain and suffering calculation method in which the actual monetary amount of your damages – medical expenses, paychecks you lost due to your injuries, and the like – is multiplied by a specific number (usually between 1 and 5) to identify a reasonable amount of damages. For instance, if your economic damages are worth $20,000, and the insurance company feels that your injuries were not serious, then they might offer you $20,000 for your pain and suffering.
Per diem method
The per diem method calculates your pain and suffering on a daily rate, based on how much you earn, and how many days you feel pain.
For example, let us say you earn $30,000 a year, which is roughly $127 a day. If you feel pain for 4 months (using 30 days as the basis for those months), then your pain and suffering would be calculated as $15,240 ($127 a day, times 120 days). For people with short-term injuries, the per diem method is likely preferred by insurance companies. When you live with chronic pain or permanent disability, however, the per diem is far from enough.
Can I negotiate for a greater pain and suffering award?
Potentially, yes – you can. You cannot say simply how much your pain and suffering is worth, however. You must provide facts and documentation, such as the types of injuries you sustained and what caused your injuries. That is where having an attorney can help the most.
For example, we are more likely to use a different multiplier to reach a pain and suffering total. After all, we work one-on-one with our clients. We see their medical reports, work with their doctors, and understand first-hand how severe the injury is. We might counter that offer by using 3.5, asking for $70,000 in damages. From there, your attorney and the insurance company will begin to negotiate over a settlement.
The truth is, your insurance company does not want to pay out claims. It wants to keep the money. If your insurer refused to “play ball,” we can take your case to trial. Sometimes, simply preparing for a trial is enough for an insurer to offer a more just settlement in the first place.
If you are injured because of a car accident, a defective product, or the negligence of another person, Cunningham & Mears can help. Our Oklahoma City injury attorneys represent clients throughout the state. To learn more about our services, or to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team, please call 405.212.9234 or complete our contact form.