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Two Methods For Calculating Pain And Suffering From An Auto Accident

by Jamie Nichols

If you were injured in a car crash, the law lets you collect compensation for the pain and suffering you may have experienced as a result. However, calculating a fair settlement can be challenging because it generally depends on an objective analysis of subjective elements such as the level of pain a person may be feeling. Luckily, there are two ways you can calculate pain and suffering to ensure that you ask for and receive a settlement amount commensurate with your discomfort.

Using The Multiplier Method

One method that can help you arrive at an acceptable compensation number is to multiply your actual damages (e.g. medical expenses, lost wages) by a multiplier to arrive at an amount. For instance, you would multiply your $5,000 in medical bills by 2 to arrive at $10,000 for pain and suffering.

On average, insurance companies use a multiplier between 1 and 5 when calculating the amount they should pay you. However, if the injury is significant and likely to cause severe pain for extended periods of time, then a higher multiplier may be used.

The exact multiplier to use will depend on:

  • How bad the injury was
  • How long you were/are likely to be in pain
  • How long it will take the injury to heal
  • Any complications that may result from the injury that might lead to future pain
  • The cost of managing the pain

For example, you may want to use a lower number if you only experienced bruises that lasted a few days. On the other hand, you'll want to use a higher number for gashes or head injuries that last for months.

It may be tempting to use the highest multiplier possible when calculating pain and suffering, but doing so can hurt your case. Not only will the defendant fight back with a long list of justifications as to why your number is too high, you may hurt your credibility by asking for more than you're really entitled to and may make people think that you're exaggerating your injuries. It's a good idea to discuss the issue with your attorney to ensure that you remain within the bounds of reasonableness.

Per Diem Calculation

Another way to determine the amount of pain and suffering you should receive is to multiple the number of days you were in pain by a set daily amount, otherwise known as a per diem rate. The daily amount can be any number you choose (e.g. $100 per day). Be aware, though, that you'll need to justify this number to the court or insurance provider.

One common number people use is the amount of money they make per day in their jobs since dealing with the pain can seem like work. So, for example, if you make $75 per day in wages, you would multiply that by the number of days you were in pain; for instance, $75 times 50 days equal $3,750.

It's highly likely you'll get wildly different amounts using either method, so it's a good idea to use them both and massage the numbers to arrive at a reasonable settlement. For more information on calculating pain and suffering in your accident case, contact an auto accident attorney