If you have sustained an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. However, while some damages such as medical bills can be easy to tally, other damages that affect your psychological health and your long-term quality of life are more difficult to calculate. Learn more about how pain and suffering damages are calculated in Missouri before you contact a personal injury lawyer.
Different Methods for Calculating Pain and Suffering
After you have been involved in an accident or you file an injury claim, you may receive a settlement offer from an insurance company. In many cases, pain and suffering damages can be calculated using the computer method. Most insurance companies use a computer to automatically calculate the dollar value of physical injuries and medical treatments to determine the compensation a victim may be owed.
However, suffering damages calculated by the computer method typically delivers a low estimate that may not cover all of your recovery costs, since the computer will not be able to personalize your compensation calculation with additional details, such as emotional distress. The main methods to calculate pain and suffering damages include the per diem method and the multiplier method.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method is commonly used by insurance companies to refine the computer-estimated compensation you may be offered. With the per diem method, an insurance claims adjuster will set a dollar value that will be applied to each day of your suffering. Typically, your suffering damages with this method refer to physical injuries that keep you from working. The severity of your suffering will be assigned a value that correlates to the intensity of your physical pain.
The multiplier method is a simpler technique for calculating pain and suffering. With this method, your economic damages will be multiplied by a number that represents the severity of your physical injuries. Injuries that cause severe physical pain will allow economic damages to be multiplied by a factor of five, while less serious injuries can be multiplied by a value of one.
Can a Judge and Jury Calculate Pain and Suffering?
In some cases, a judge or jury sets the compensation owed for pain and suffering damages. Although there is no cap for pain and suffering in Missouri, other laws in the state may affect the calculation of your settlement. If your case involves the pure comparative fault doctrine, the amount of fault you claim for your accident may impact how much you can recover in compensation.
A judge and jury will only be involved in determining your pain and suffering damages if your case is being settled in court.
What Factors Does a Judge or Jury Consider?
If a judge or jury sets compensatory damages, they may look at factors that affect the home life and work situation of the individual. A judge or jury will consider the severity of the injury, the likelihood of permanent disability, the ability to work in the future, and the ability to sustain healthy life circumstances and relationships.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages In a Personal Injury Claim?
To calculate pain and suffering damages, many factors will have to be examined. Much of the time, pain and suffering damages are calculated on a case-by-case basis, which allows victims to receive compensation that is customized by the severity of their physical and emotional pain. These factors include:
Physical pain after an injury can refer to the pain caused by the injury, the pain caused by treatments and surgery from the injury, and the ongoing pain the victim may experience. Although physical pain is subjective, people who required pain medication to cope with the pain or who had special pain examinations will have a more accurate pain estimation that can be used to calculate compensatory damages.
A serious injury tends to weigh more when physical pain is calculated. Although calculating pain is complex, an injury that more drastically alters your quality of life will sometimes increase the cost of your damages. Traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb, and permanent disability all involve substantial physical pain that can directly affect your ability to live your life.
Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
Mental and emotional suffering is very difficult to calculate. Mental suffering can include the depression and anxiety a victim may feel in the wake of a serious injury or major accident. Some victims may even develop panic disorders after severe injuries, such as PTSD, which can affect the ongoing mental health of the individual.
It’s important to note that, for many people, mental suffering is much more disruptive than physical pain. While physical pain can be managed by medical treatments and prescriptions, mental anguish and emotional distress must be endured. Some victims may even need psychological counseling to deal with the trauma of a serious injury, including patients who have become permanently disabled after an accident.
Quality of Life
For some people who are injured in an accident, a consequence of the injury may be a reduction in the individual’s quality of life. People who have sustained serious injuries may no longer be able to enjoy certain hobbies or may have to learn new skills to perform daily living tasks, such as personal hygiene.
When the quality of life is reduced, people may be more likely to suffer from depression or other emotional distress. Factors such as feelings of happiness, comfort, and enjoyment are all closely related to the quality of life.
Finally, inconvenience may also be part of pain and suffering calculations. The inconvenience caused by your injuries can drastically alter how you live your life, particularly if your mobility needs have changed. If you need crutches, a wheelchair, or special transportation arrangements, all of these inconveniences can be added to your non-economic damages.
Are Pain and Suffering Damages Added to Your Settlement?
In general, pain and suffering awards are added to the economic damages you can recover from your personal injury case according to the civil justice system in Missouri. Seeking both economic and non-economic damages can ensure you receive the total amount of compensation you are owed for your personal injury claim.
Sometimes, non-economic damages compensate for other damages you may not be able to fully recover. Although Missouri does not have a cap for economic damages for most personal injury cases, there may be a compensation cap placed on your case if your personal injury claim involves medical malpractice. For medical negligence cases, victims cannot recover more than a set amount for non-economic or economic losses.
What Economic Compensation Can You Recover?
The financial losses associated with your personal injury claim will usually focus on amounts that can easily be counted with financial documents, such as medical bills, payroll invoices, and other costs associated with your recovery.
The cost of medical bills will typically include the medical treatment required to treat your injuries and other medical costs, such as in-home care you may receive while you recover from a serious injury. It’s common for your medical records to be used as a way to track all the treatments, surgeries, and prescriptions you have needed throughout your recovery.
In some cases, the cost of your current medical bills can be used to estimate the cost of your medical bills in the future, particularly if you will need to receive ongoing care. People who have sustained very serious injuries in a car accident and people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury may be entitled to these future medical cost estimations.
Lost wages are sometimes the most obvious economic damages a person can suffer after a serious injury. Lost wages accumulate when you are no longer able to work because of your injury, which makes it difficult to maintain a stable living situation. Additionally, lost wages can have a lasting impact on people who are married, have children, or are financially responsible for other people.
Lost income from the loss of employment can also be included, particularly if you have a diminished earning ability after your injury. If your injuries prevent you from working in the future, your economic damages may reflect this value, as well. Sometimes, lost wages can make up a big chunk of your compensatory damages.
Do You Always Need a Law Firm to Receive Fair Compensation?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury case, you may require legal help to receive fair compensation. For example, an insurance adjuster may not be motivated to fairly calculate your pain and suffering damages, which is why you may want to work with a personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit, so you can have a fair settlement.
When you work with a lawyer, you can feel more confident that you will receive fair compensation for all the physical and emotional pain you have suffered. With fair compensation, you can focus more on your ongoing rehabilitation, so you can improve your quality of life. Our personal injury lawyers will always prioritize your best interests so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Pain and suffering are an additional form of compensation that is usually calculated on a case-by-case basis. Pain and suffering can include physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and much more. For a free case evaluation, get in touch with Holman Schiavone, LLC in Kansas City at 816-320-6108 today.