Understanding Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury
Although it’s well known that you can recover your medical costs following an accident injury, there are other types of damages you can also claim. Recovering fair compensation after a personal injury means getting compensation for your pain and suffering as well as for your economic losses.
As Nevada law doesn’t give a specific way to calculate pain and suffering damages, it can be hard to know how to reduce your pain and suffering to a dollar amount. There are various factors that you, the other party, and the jury should take into account when you value your pain and suffering in your personal injury case.
Table of Contents
- What Is Pain and Suffering?
- An Example of Pain and Suffering
- The Differences Between Economic Damages and Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress Examples
- How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
- The Multiplier Method
- The Per Diem Method
- When the Multiplier Method and Per Diem Method Aren’t Appropriate
- Nevada Law Doesn’t Tell the Jury How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
- How to Prove Pain and Suffering to the Jury
- What is an assumption of risk?
- Comparative Negligence and Assumption of Risk
- Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples
- Putting A Value on Pain
What Is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional pain and agony associated with your injury. It includes the aches, discomfort, affliction, and other pain that you suffer because of your injury. When you experience a physical injury, you’re not the same as you were before. Your injuries take a physical and emotional toll and cause you pain. This anguish is pain and suffering.
An Example of Pain and Suffering
Consider you’re hurt in a park when someone transporting equipment acts carelessly and drops a heavy object on your foot. Your foot hurts so much that you can’t sleep. Even though you’ve been training to dance in a ballroom dance demonstration next month, you have to miss the event.
You develop depression, and you’re having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that you may never dance again. Your pain, lack of sleep, emotional anguish, and depression all fall into the category of pain and suffering.
The Differences Between Economic Damages and Pain and Suffering
Some of your damages after a personal injury are easy to quantify. These are your actual, out-of-pocket damages that you can measure. Examples are your medical bills and lost wages because you can’t work. Damages that you can estimate with a calculator are called economic damages.
Other damages are harder to measure. These are called non-economic damages. Pain and suffering falls into this category. Even though you can’t pull out a bill or a pay stub to measure pain and suffering, your physical and emotional devastation is still very real. Under Nevada law, you have a right to compensation for pain and suffering. While having a check in your hands can’t make you feel better, it can give you some justice.
Emotional Distress Examples
Another type of non-economic damage one can claim in personal injury lawsuits is emotional distress. Emotional distress goes beyond the physical pain and suffering one might experience to include the psychological impacts the injury has had on the individual. Some emotional distress examples include the following:
- Eating Disorders
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Proving emotional distress in a personal injury lawsuit can be more difficult and requires the assistance of an experienced attorney. As such, it is essential to communicate any psychological issues you experience as a result of your accident and injuries.
Frequently, one must receive a mental health evaluation from a qualified mental health professional. The attorney may also rely on testimony from friends and family.
How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
There are a few common ways to value pain and suffering. The insurance company may have a complicated software program that they use to make you a standard offer. However, there are a few other standard ways that parties involved in an injury lawsuit can use to determine a value for pain and suffering.
The Multiplier Method
A common way to value pain and suffering is by calculating a rough amount based on economic damages. That means counting the medical bills and applying a multiplier to arrive at a pain and suffering figure.
For example, if a victim has economic damages of $10,000 and you use a multiplier of two, pain and suffering damages are $20,000. The victim can ask for the $10,000 recovery on top of asking for compensation for pain and suffering.
A typical multiplier is between 1.5 and five, with most cases falling at or near 1.5 times the amount of economic damages. Cases with severe, lifelong, permanent injuries might qualify for a higher multiplier.
The Per Diem Method
The per diem method of valuing pain and suffering places a dollar value on each day of pain and anguish, and you total the number of days that you spend in pain.
For example, if you value your pain and suffering at $100 per day and it takes 180 days to recover from your injuries, you might value your pain and suffering at $18,000. People often look at their wages for a day of work for an amount to use as the daily value.
When the Multiplier Method and Per Diem Method Aren’t Appropriate
There may be circumstances where the multiplier and the per diem methods don’t appropriately place a value on pain and suffering. This might be the case where an injury doesn’t require a great deal of treatment but leaves lasting damage.
For example, an injury might result in burns or scarring. The medical treatment itself for these types of injuries may not be that expensive. However, the fallout from these injuries is lifelong. In that case, the multiplier and per diem methods may not do justice, and you may argue for a different valuation.
Nevada Law Doesn’t Tell the Jury How to Calculate Pain and Suffering
The Nevada courts don’t give juries a lot to go on when they decide on pain and suffering. In fact, the court might only tell the jury to award you fairly for physical and mental pain, suffering, and disability both now and in the future.
That instruction doesn’t indicate to the jury how to go about calculating what’s fair and reasonable. Jurors might have wildly different opinions about how to place a value on pain. This makes it essential for your attorney to guide the jury through how to value your damages.
How to Prove Pain and Suffering to the Jury
How to prove pain and suffering to a jury requires you to describe and demonstrate how the injuries have impacted your life and normal routines. For example, you can show the jury photos of your injuries. You can also talk about how your injuries have changed your life, like not being able to enjoy various activities and hobbies.
In addition, you may have friends and family testify to how you were before the injury. A doctor may be able to tell the jury how your injuries are likely to cause pain.
The jury is going to look for you to present clear and consistent evidence of your physical and emotional suffering because of your personal injury. So, you and your attorney must develop an effective strategy to convey the extent of your pain and suffering to the jury.
What is an assumption of risk?
An assumption of risk is a legal defense used by the defendant to attempt to avoid being held negligent for the plaintiff’s injuries, pain, and suffering. This defense requires the defendant to establish, through a preponderance of the evidence, that the plaintiff was well aware of the potential risks of injury.
The defendant can demonstrate this by showing the plaintiff accepted the risks of injury voluntarily or they had actual knowledge of the risks. The objective of an assumption of risk defense is used if the defendant can demonstrate to the jury the plaintiff was aware of the risks. Then, they are not negligent and, therefore, do not owe any compensation to the plaintiff.
Comparative Negligence and Assumption of Risk
When a plaintiff contributed partially to the accident that led to their injuries, the rule of comparative negligence can be applied. Nevada laws do not prevent a plaintiff from seeking compensation for their injuries as long as they are considered to be 49 percent or less at fault.
In some cases, the plaintiff may have been aware of certain risks. However, they were unaware of the dangers that resulted in specific injuries. As a result, comparative negligence could be applied to the lawsuit and reduce the compensation the plaintiff is entitled to receive.
Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples
The pain and suffering settlement amount has no set limit. It is entirely up to the insurance company and your attorney to negotiate this amount. Should your case go to trial, the jury is responsible for establishing the value of pain and suffering.
In addition, it depends on the method applied to your accident. For example, you are in a car accident, and your total medical bills are $7,500. The insurance company uses the multiplier method and makes a settlement offer of $22,500 for your pain and suffering, with a total settlement offer of $30,000.
On the other hand, let’s assume the insurance company uses the per diem method. They place a daily value of $200 for your pain and suffering. You are expected to fully recover in six months, or about 183 days. Your settlement offer for your pain and suffering would be $36,600 plus the $7,500 for your medical bills, for a total of $44,100.
Putting A Value on Pain
It is difficult to value pain and suffering in personal injury cases. Attorneys are frequently asked what the average settlement amount is. However, the only way to know the approximate value of your case is with a consultation and case evaluation, as many factors determine the value of your case.
While there are injury cases that settle for hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions, most settlements range from several thousand dollars to around $75,000.
Your legal team can help you gather evidence of your pain and suffering. Substantial proof of your physical and emotional injuries can help you negotiate a favorable resolution with the other side and any associated insurance companies before your trial date arrives.
Adam S. Kutner & Associates can help you evaluate your claim, take the right steps to build your case, and work towards fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Although the process may be overwhelming, a qualified attorney has the experience to get you the compensation for all damages that may apply in your case.
N.R.S. 41A.011. (2022).
N.R.S. 41.141. (2022).
Cuniff, M. (2022). Pain and Suffering Settlement Examples 2022.
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