How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering?
The value of your personal injury case depends on two types of damages. Economic damages represent the financial costs and losses incurred due to the injury. Examples include medical bills and wage losses. Non-economic damages represent the diminishment of your quality of life due to pain and suffering.
What is Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is made of harms and losses one experiences as the result of another’s negligence. Pain makes your life miserable. It interferes with your ability to work and enjoy life. It prevents you from participating in activities you enjoy, like playing with your kids or going on a jog. Pain often disrupts your sleep.
Suffering refers to the mental anguish you experience due to the other person’s negligent or wrongful actions. It covers your distress about the accident and your worries about your health and finances. Depression, anxiety, nightmares, and grief after an incident diminish your quality of life.
The value of pain and suffering will not include any concrete financial losses tied to these physical and mental issues.
For example, pain and suffering damages do not include the cost of pain medication or therapy with a mental health professional. You will include these costs with your economic damages. Non-economic damages only encompass the effects of pain and suffering on your quality of life. At a trial, a judge would charge the jury to award pain and suffering damages if they find that the plaintiff is suffering in any of the following ways:
· Interference with normal living;
· Interference with enjoyment of life;
· Loss of capacity to labor and earn money;
· Impairment of bodily health and vigor;
· Fear of extent of injury;
· Shock of impact;
· Actual pain and suffering, past and future;
· Mental anguish, past and future; and
· The extent to which the plaintiff must limit activities.
Calculating a Value for Pain and Suffering
Georgia law classifies pain and suffering as general damages. You can recover them without proving any specific amount because the law presumes every injury causes pain and suffering. According to Georgia’s Pattern Jury Instructions, the measure of pain and suffering damages is an amount that is “reasonable, fair, and just.”
Most jurors lack any experience in calculating damages awards. As a result, your injury lawyer could call your friends, family, and coworkers to testify about how you have suffered after being injured by another’s negligence. Here are some common ways lawyers explain how to calculate general damages to a jury:
Per Diem Method
When using the per diem method, the jury can assign a base daily rate to the pain and suffering damages. The value is based on the severity of your injuries.
This method allows the jury to think about your injuries in separate chunks of time rather than getting overwhelmed by the overall duration. It also allows the jury to adjust the value depending on the duration of each injury you suffered.
The daily value is then multiplied by the total number of days during which you suffered from the injury. For example, the jury could assign a value of $100 per day for pain and suffering and multiply it by 100 days to arrive at a pain and suffering award of $10,000.
A lawyer might ask a jury to take the medical bills and multiply them by some factor to reach a value of the pain and suffering. The multiplier typically ranges from 1.5 to 10x, with more severe and permanent injuries falling on the higher end of the scale.
Thus, if you prove $10,000 in economic losses and the jury picks a multiplier of 1.8, you have a total damage award of $18,000, $10,000 of which represents economic losses and $8,000 for pain and suffering.
Calculating Your Pain and Suffering
Every case involves unique facts and circumstances that will affect a damage award. Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to discuss the damages you can seek under Georgia law.
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