When someone is involved in an auto accident, it’s fairly easy to determine the cost to repair a vehicle. However, if bodily and mental injuries are involved, the process is a bit more complicated. It’s difficult to put a value on someone’s physical and emotional distress.
Even so, insurance and legal agencies have come up with formulas to assist in calculating pain and suffering damages. While regulations and laws differ from state to state, here are some of the factors to consider.
1. Extent of damages
When an insurance company or legal entity evaluates a pain and suffering case, they will look at the extent of damages. In addition to the pain and injury suffered at the time of the accident, they will also consider:
- Emotional trauma
- Treatment pain
- Persistent pain
- Chronic discomfort
- Limited activity and mobility
- Inability to work
- Effect on quality of life
- Long-term outlook
An example of pain and suffering might be that you are hit by another driver and your arm is broken. Because of this, you cannot drive to work or participate in sports or even run errands that require you to use a vehicle. Since your quality of life has been affected, you begin to suffer from depression. Pain and suffering considers so much more than bodily harm. It also takes into account mental anguish, lost wages, medical bills, and more.
2. State laws
Each state calculates pain and suffering damages in different ways. Some have caps on the amount you can receive. Some have specific formulas, while others let the judge and jury decide.
3. Multiplier method
If your case is being handled in a state that uses the multiplier method, cost of damages are added up and then multiplied by values on a scale. For example, Texas uses the multiplier method for car accidents. The multiplier scale starts at 1.5 and ends at 5. If your medical bills and lost wages added up to $10,000 and it was determined your pain and suffering ranks as 2 on the scale, you would be awarded $20,000 ($10,000 x 2).
The multiplier is determined by how extensively your life has been affected. In the case of a broken arm, the damages will be ranked fairly low. However, if you are going to face years of physical therapy and permanent financial losses, your multiplier will rank much higher and even possibly the max of 5.
4. Judge and jury
In some states, a judge and jury will decide what a person receives for pain and suffering damages. For example, in Maryland the legal system allows the judge or jury to calculate the payout multiplier based on their own interpretations. However, there’s a maximum compensation limit of $890,000.
Let’s say you’ve accrued $200,000 in medical bills and also lost wages in the amount of $200,000, which brings total damages to $400,000. The jury decides your multiplier is 3 due to the number of years they think it will take you to fully recover. If you multiply $400,000 by 3, it equals $1,200,000. However, due to the cap, you will only receive $890,000 for pain and suffering damages.
No matter how pain and suffering damages are calculated, you should seek legal advice to make sure you’re being treated fairly and getting the compensation you deserve. Search for an expert in the state your case is being handled as laws and limits vary depending on the location of the incident. It’s important to note that since no two cases are completely alike, settlements can differ quite a bit.