How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in New York State?
Victims who are injured in car crashes, medical malpractice incidents, and other accidents can pursue pain and suffering damages in many cases. However, pain and suffering, along with other forms of non-economic losses, don’t come with predetermined price tags.
Without objective values, how do attorneys calculate the value of pain and suffering into a dollar value for payment purposes?
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a term that refers to the physical and emotional pain that a person goes through after an injury. It is known as a non-economic loss that doesn’t have an intrinsic dollar value, in contrast to a medical bill or a year of lost paychecks.
Generally, pain and suffering damages are only available when a serious physical injury has been suffered. For example, if an individual loses a limb, they will likely be entitled to some level of pain and suffering damages. However, if an individual suffers a minor scratch, it is unlikely that they can successfully recover pain and suffering damages.
Common injuries and types of pain that are likely to warrant a claim for pain and suffering damages include:
- Extreme headaches
- Back injuries and back pain
- Nerve damage
- Soft tissue injuries and pain
- Phantom pain
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
Whether your case qualifies for pain and suffering damages depends on many factors that your attorney will review during a free consultation before taking on your case. After evaluating your case, your attorney will have a better idea of the amounts and types of damages you are entitled to pursue.
Calculating Pain and Suffering in New York State
Once your attorney has identified the party responsible for your pain and suffering, they will need to prove that you suffered compensable losses.
As mentioned, economic losses come with bills, receipts, and account balances that demonstrate the extent of an individual’s economic losses. But there are no such items for pain and suffering losses or any other non-economic loss.
Instead, the parties to the claim or lawsuit use one of two methods to come to an acceptable figure: the multiplier method and the per diem method.
Using the Multiplier Method
Under the multiplier method, the parties to the action assign a number between 1 and 5 to the injury, with 5 being reserved for the most serious of injuries.
Once a multiplier has been assigned, the parties then multiply that number by the total amount of economic damages the victim has suffered. The result is the compensation payout for non-economic damages.
For example, if an individual loses both legs, they will likely receive a multiplier of 5. If the total of their economic damages works out to be $300,000, the injury victim will receive $1.5 million in non-economic damages.
As you might imagine, there are often disputes over how high a multiplier a case deserves. Although some cases clearly deserve 5s, others often belong somewhere in the range between 2 and 4. To help arrive at a number, certain factors are taken into consideration by both sides, such as:
- Whether the loss of bodily function is involved
- Whether the pain and discomfort are chronic
- Whether the victim has lost their ability to work, play, or engage in normal daily activities
The parties will also take into account whether there is accompanying emotional harm, such as PTSD.
Using the Per Diem Method
The per diem method of calculating pain and suffering damages involves assigning a per diem amount of damages to be paid over a certain period. The per diem amount is typically based on the victim’s wages.
For example, if a person earned $200 per day before becoming injured, the $200 figure will be used as the daily payout for the victim’s compensation. Determining how long that payout should last depends on many factors, such as the extent of the injuries and the overall total economic losses involved.
Consider a person who spends 100 days in pain and out of work. After the 100 days, they can return to work and are free from pain. If using the per diem method, their attorney will fight to get the 100 days counted as the period for the payment of the per diem.
Personal Injury Attorneys Who Fight for Maximum Compensation
Do you need an attorney who can ensure that your pain and suffering are truly reflected in the compensation total you receive? Look no further than Silberstein, Awad & Miklos. We have decades of combined experience and fight to secure maximum compensation for our clients. Call for a free consultation with a skilled personal injury attorney today.