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How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

Did you know that the State of California allows personal injury plaintiffs to receive compensation for pain and suffering damages? It’s true. Through a personal injury claim against a negligent party responsible for causing injury, an injury victim can pursue financial awards for both economic and non-economic damages. This is because California recognizes that pain and suffering, along with other non-economic damages are just as real and can be even more difficult to deal with, as economic damages that include things like medical bills.

How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

There are two main categories of damages available in a California personal injury claim. The first is economic damages. Economic damages are those damages that are calculated with relative ease as you can assign a monetary value to them by using things like receipts, bills, and other records. Economic damages can include things like medical bills, lost wages, cost of future medical expenses, and loss of future earning capacity.

Non-economic damages are much more difficult to quantify. This is because there really is no specific cost attached to them. Pain and suffering is among some of the more common things included in the non-economic damages category. Because pain and suffering damages are so difficult to quantify, insurance companies can often try to take advantage of the ambiguity by significantly undervaluing them and other non-economic damages. However, a substantial amount of economic losses, as well as the severity of the physical injury sustained by the plaintiff, can be a contributing factor on the value an insurance company assigns to pain and suffering damages. Additionally, the level of recklessness or the intent of the person liable for causing the injuries as well as the strength of the available evidence can also be significant factors in the pain and suffering calculation.

While California law does not require the documentation of mental health systems to be eligible to receive pain and suffering damages, such documentation could prove useful in substantiating a claim for pain and suffering damages. Records of being diagnosed with the following can help strengthen a claim:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Insurance companies will commonly employ one of two methods in attempting to calculate the pain and suffering damages for an injury victim. The Multiplier Method may be the most commonly used method. With the Multiplier Method, the total economic damages of a victim are calculated. That works as the base figure. A multiplier is then determined. There really is no strict rule as to how an insurance company arrives at the multiplier, but it will likely account for a variety of factors such as the severity of the accident, the severity of the injuries, and other things like formal mental health diagnosis as well as concrete impacts on the victim’s life. The total economic damages are multiplied times the multiplier to arrive at an award for pain and suffering damages.

Alternately, sometimes the Per Diem Method is used. With this method, a dollar figure for pain and suffering is assigned. Then, the number of days it took for the victim to reach full recovery is calculated. The dollar amount for pain and suffering is then multiplied by the total number of days to full recovery.

Personal Injury Attorneys

At Compass Law Group, we are committed to pursuing full and fair monetary recovery for our clients. This includes compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Contact us today.

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