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Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Who Determines the Amount of Your Recovery? How Are Damages Calculated?

Calculating Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury LawsuitWhen you’ve been hurt in any type of an accident, as a result of someone else’s careless or negligent act, you have a right to seek full and fair compensation for all your losses. That typically includes what are commonly referred to as “economic losses,” such as lost wages, unreimbursed medical expenses, and damaged or destroyed personal property. These types of losses are, for the most part, easy to calculate, typically based on wage statements, repair estimates or medical bills. There are, however, other damages potentially available in a personal injury claim, losses that are significantly more uncertain and more difficult to calculate. Known as “non-economic” damages, these losses include pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering is a legal term used to describe any type of mental, emotional or physical discomfort experienced as a consequence of another person’s wrongful act. Pain and suffering includes any immediate trauma, soreness, aching, spasms, itching, twitching, throbbing or other physical manifestations of discomfort. It can also include fear, anxiety, stress, depression, anger and a host of other psychological, mental or emotional responses.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

While pain and suffering has tangible consequences, it is often difficult to treat with procedures or medications whose costs can easily be established. In addition, damages for pain and suffering also typically include compensation for the inability to engage in certain activities because of the pain. Accordingly, pain and suffering can rarely, if ever, be calculated by any tangible means. As a consequence, courts have taken a couple of different approaches to the calculation of compensation for pain and suffering:

  • The use of a multiplier—Many courts will ask the jury to first determine the economic, or tangible, losses and then apply a “multiplier” to calculate non-economic damages. For example, the jury may determine that the injured party had $500,000 in lost wages and another $500,000 in unpaid medical expenses. Using a factor of 1.5, the jury would multiply the total economic damage award ($1,000,000) by the factor and assess non-economic damages at $1,500,000.
  • The calculation of a “reasonable amount” for pain and suffering—Other courts instruct jurors to calculate a reasonable amount for non-economic damages, based on the severity of the injuries and the culpability of the defendant.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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