How to Calculate Personal Injury Pain and Suffering

How Personal Injury Pain and Suffering Is Calculated

pain and suffering

If you suffered from an injury caused by an accident or deliberate wrongdoing, you may be able to recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including personal injury pain and suffering damages

Economic damages refer to the money you can recover to reimburse the expenses associated with your injuries, such as medical bills and property damages, and any wages you lost while recovering. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, compensate you for non-monetary losses, which can include loss of consortium, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. 

The majority of personal injury cases involve the plaintiff — the person filing — seeking damages for their pain and suffering. Although recovering these types of damages is harder than receiving economic damages, personal injury victims often recover non-economic compensation for their pain and suffering. 

What Is Considered “Pain and Suffering”?

In Maryland, the term “pain and suffering” refers to more than just experiencing bodily injury pain and suffering — it involves the overall impact an injury has on a victim’s life. Some examples of pain and suffering include: 

  • The physical and mental pain and suffering a person experiences from an injury.
  • The future physical and mental pain and suffering they’ll experience as a result of their injury.  
  • Any scarring or disfigurement the injury causes. 
  • The injuries affect the victim physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • A victim loses their job or career due to injuries.
  • The victim loses the ability to engage in certain recreational or sports activities.
  • The victim now suffers from anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, suicidal thoughts, or post-traumatic stress disorder

What may be considered pain and suffering depends on the victim’s unique circumstances and injuries. For example, if an arm injury prevents someone from engaging in their favorite pre-injury activity, such as golf, that could be considered pain and suffering.  

Traditional Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering

Calculating pain and suffering are subjective and challenging because there’s no specific monetary value associated with the damages. In contrast, with damages compensating medical bills, the victim has an exact amount that they’re owed. There’s no inherent value in pain and suffering damages.

Traditionally, personal injury lawyers and insurance companies use two different methods of calculating pain and suffering: the per diem method and the multiplier method.   

The Per Diem Method

With the per diem, meaning “per day,” method, those calculating damages set a particular daily dollar amount for the victim’s injuries. They then calculate the pain and suffering damages by adding each day the victim suffered. 

The main challenge of the per diem method is setting a daily amount that accurately assesses the victim’s pain and suffering. Some insurance companies and personal injury lawyers use the victim’s earnings to calculate their daily receipt amount.  

The Multiplier Method

With the multiplier method, the insurance company or personal injury lawyer will determine pain and suffering damages by using a number between 1 and 5 and multiplying the number with the economic damages. The number you receive represents your level of pain and how the injury impacts your life.  

For example, if you suffered from a painful broken leg and received $10,000 in economic damages, you might receive a multiplier of 3 based on the pain you experienced. Your pain and suffering damages would then be $30,000 with the multiplier method.  

How Insurance Companies Determine Pain and Suffering Damages

Aside from the traditional methods of calculating pain and suffering damages, insurance companies often use computer programs, such as Colossus, to determine the compensation amount. They use past pain and suffering damage amounts to calculate how much to award victims.

The problem with insurance companies’ programs is that they don’t take individual people into account. Although two people may have suffered from similar injuries, how the injury impacts each person’s life will differ. 

Because insurance companies use this incredibly flawed system of calculating damages, you shouldn’t settle for the insurance company’s initial offer. The insurance company is primarily looking to save money, so they’ll offer an amount that may sound high but is far less than what you deserve. 

If you file a personal injury claim for pain and suffering, you need a personal injury attorney at your side to help you recover the most money possible for your losses.

How Do Courts Determine Damages for Pain and Suffering?

Although people have historically used the per diem and multiplier methods, there’s no guarantee that a court will use either to calculate pain and suffering damages.

Juries are told to award the amount they think is appropriate given the injuries and pain the victim experienced, but people will come up with different amounts for the pain and suffering damages. Juries will look at various factors to determine the amount the victim will receive, including:

  • Whether the victim suffered permanent scarring or disfigurement.
  • How the injury impacts the victim’s mental health and overall wellbeing.
  • If the victim is now unable to perform their job or career.
  • The future pain or mental anguish the victim will suffer from. 
  • If the victim suffers from suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Pain the injury caused.
  • The physical discomfort the victim experienced while receiving medical treatment. 
  • If the injury resulted in physical limitations.

Maryland’s Cap on Pain and Suffering Damages

Although body injury claims involving pain and suffering can compensate victims for ongoing discomfort and physical limitations, Maryland has a cap on the amount a person can recover for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. The cap increases by $15,000 every year, and as of 2022, you can recover up to $905,000 for pain and suffering. 

The date of your injury determines the cap rather than when you file, so if you file a claim for an injury you suffered from in 2020, your cap will be $890,000. 

The only cases in which this cap does not apply are medical malpractice and wrongful death cases, which have different caps.  

Contact a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered from a car accident or another personal injury, you need to hire a Maryland personal injury lawyer to assist you with your personal injury pain and suffering claim. Insurance companies will do everything they can to reduce the amount you can recover in pain and suffering damages, so you need a legal expert at your side who can maximize the amount you’ll receive. 

To increase the amount you’ll receive in pain and suffering damages, contact the office of Zirkin & Schmerling Law at 410-753-4611, or you can get a free case consultation here