How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

August 01, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated in Indiana?

If you have sustained a personal injury that resulted in severe pain and suffering, it can be hard to quantify the weight of your anguish, let alone the monetary value. However, there are several ways to calculate the compensation you deserve. Most commonly, pain and suffering is calculated by using either the multiplier method, per diem method, or a proprietary pain and suffering calculator, which are mostly used by insurance companies.  

If you’ve been injured and believe you deserve compensation, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP to begin the process of filing a personal injury claim in Indiana. Our Indianapolis personal injury lawyers have taken on the most serious injury cases and proven them against the responsible party. We pay particular attention to the Indiana personal injury statute of limitations, the amount and kind of damages a client should expect to pursue, the proper defendants to name in a case, and the special circumstances of each client’s situation. We are highly trained, experienced, and well-equipped to handle your personal injury claim. 

To speak with Indianapolis personal injury lawyers who will have your back, call our office at (317) 455-4043, or use our online contact form for a free consultation.  

What is Pain and Suffering?  

Pain and suffering refer to the long-term physical and emotional afflictions that one suffers because of an injury. If the injury was the result of another party’s negligence, the injured person can make a personal injury claim to recover compensation for noneconomic damages. Physical pain and suffering refers to the pain associated with the injuries you suffered from your accident, including in the past and the future.  On the other hand, emotional pain and suffering refers to the emotional or psychological damage caused by the injury. This may include anger, depression, fear, humiliation, and inconvenience, among other afflictions.  

Examples of Physical Pain and Suffering:  

  • Chronic back pain from a vehicular accident 
  • Traumatic brain injury from a slip-and-fall accident 
  • Chronic headaches from whiplash or disc injury to the upper neck 

Examples of Emotional Pain and Suffering 

  • Cognitive changes from a traumatic brain injury 
  • Distress over disability from a vehicular accident 
  • PTSD from a traumatic event or injury 

When it comes to how pain and suffering is calculated, each case is different. The calculations used to determine your compensation will be specific to the facts and circumstances of your case and the severity of your pain and suffering.  

Proving Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case 

Proving pain and suffering, or loss of quality of life, in a personal injury case is not as simple as providing an x-ray or medical bill to recover economic damages. Both physical and emotional pain and suffering tend to be more abstract, and therefore are more challenging to demonstrate with concrete evidence.  

An experienced personal injury lawyer would seek to illustrate how your life has been dramatically altered due to the event that caused the injury. This may be achieved by providing testimony from your family or friends, or mental health professionals who can attest to your mental state. Evidence may also include doctor’s notes, medical documents, and photographs.  

If you’ve been injured and believe that you deserve compensation for pain and suffering, you should begin compiling as much evidence as possible. It would be best to call an Indiana personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury, even before you file an insurance claim. Keffer Hirschauer LLP has a very skilled team of Indiana personal injury lawyers that can speak with the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us today at (317) 455-4043 or complete our online contact form.  

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated?  

When determining how much you should be compensated for economic damages (e.g. medical expenses, property damage, etc.), the deciding party would need to just look at your medical bills and add them all together. It’s a simple calculation. Damages from pain and suffering, however, are more complicated to calculate. There is no explicit receipt that details the noneconomic damage you’ve incurred as a result of a personal injury.  

Given the complicated nature of assessing the market value of one’s pain and suffering, insurance companies, legal teams, and the court use various calculators to determine compensation. The two most common are the multiplier method and per diem, but it’s also common for insurance companies to use their own proprietary pain and suffering calculator. In situations where an insurance company is using their own pain and suffering calculator, it’s even more crucial to have an experienced personal injury acting as your representative when speaking with them about compensation and damages.  

Insurance Companies and the Multiplier Method 

Insurance companies, as well as lawyers engaged in Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), often use what is called the multiplier method to calculate compensation for pain and suffering. This method takes the entirety of your actual damages (e.g. medical bills, medical care, lost wages, property damage, etc.) and then multiplies that number by a severity rate. This rate is often a number between one and five, with a five rating being reserved for the most severe injuries.  

Example: Six months ago, you were riding your bicycle safely in a designated bike lane but were hit by a car that was in violation of local traffic law. This bicycle accident resulted in multiple broken bones, a fractured jaw and hip, significant damage to your teeth and over three months of lost wages. Consequently, you incurred actual damages totaling $225,000 and now face lifelong difficulties with speaking and eating due to the fractured jaw, trouble with mobility from the fractured hip, and cosmetic issues related to dental damage. After seeing the body of evidence, the insurance company has decided to apply a multiplier of 2 to your claim. This means that, based on the multiplier method, the calculation used to determine your compensation for pain and suffering would be $225,000 x 2 = $450,000.

Courts and the Multiplier Method 

If your personal injury claim goes all the way to court, the jury is given broad latitude when determining the appropriate amount of damages that you are entitled to receive. When making this determination, they’ll consider factors such as:  

  • Injuries sustained 
  • Severity of injuries 
  • Permanency of injuries 
  • Recovery period 
  • Medications required, past and present 
  • Potency of evidence

After assessing the evidence and reviewing all of the documentation provided by your legal team, the jury will decide (a) if you deserve compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the personal injury in question, and if so, (b) which multiplier most appropriately reflects the severity of your injury.  

Example: Last year, you were in a vehicular accident that resulted in a thoracic spinal cord injury. Consequently, you were rendered paraplegic and are now confined to a wheelchair. In addition, you face lifelong bladder/bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and muscular atrophy, and since the date of the accident, you have incurred actual damages totaling $645,000. Due to the severe nature of your injuries, your attorney is assertively making the case that you deserve the highest level of compensation available. This means that, based on the multiplier method, the calculation used to determine the optimal compensation for your pain and suffering would be $645,000 x 5 (the highest multiplier) = $3,225,000.  

In addition to receiving compensation for your pain and suffering, the court may also grant you compensation for economic damages that were a result of your injury. This often would mean recovering the $645,000 that you presented as the cost of actual damage for the calculation of pain and suffering. It could also include loss of future wages and/or earning capacity, as well as property damage (such as the car you were driving when the accident occurred). 

The Per Diem Method 

The per diem method is the least commonly used pain and suffering calculator, however, it is still applied on some occasions. The per diem method awards the plaintiff a fixed dollar amount of compensation per unit of time (such as a day) and then multiplies it by a time-range, such as the total number of days between the date of the injury and the day of final recovery; the number of days of lost wage; or the number of months remaining in a person’s life expectancy.  

Example: Several months ago, you sustained a pedestrian injury that resulted in two broken arms. Therefore, you were unable to work or do much at all during the recovery period, which led to depression. When your compensation for damages were being evaluated, the insurance company took into account your daily wage and the hardship you encountered during recovery to determine that you should be compensated at the per diem rate of (daily wage) x (number of days between injury and full recovery). This calculation worked out to be $225 x 56 = $12,600.  

Seeking Compensation for Pain and Suffering in Indiana?  

If you have sustained an injury from an accident and believe that you deserve to be compensated, not only for economic damages but the pain and suffering you incurred as a result, do not hesitate to reach out to Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team of personal injury attorneys can help you understand the validity of your claim, how to calculate pain and suffering, and everything else you need to know before moving forward. Our attorneys have the experience you can rely on and the drive you need to protect your interests. We’ll fight aggressively for compensation for your injuries and advocate for you at every step in the process. Set up a free consultation today or give us a call at (317) 648-9560 

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