In any personal injury case, you have two types of damages:
- Economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages
- Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering
While economic damages are easy to calculate, noneconomic damages are more tricky. They can be highly subjective, but there are established methods for calculating them.
Two Methods for Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
The two main ways that pain and suffering damages are calculated are the multiplier method and the per diem method. These are described below.
The multiplier method takes your economic damages and multiplies them by a number from 1 to 5. The more severe your injury and the greater your pain and suffering, the higher the multiplier used. For example, if a slip and fall accident resulted in a concussion costing you $30,000 in economic damages, you might get a multiplier of 3, adding $90,000 to your damages.
Per diem method
Alternatively, some attorneys will use a per diem method (“per diem” being Latin for “per day”). With this method, your typical pain and suffering for each day is evaluated, and your attorney will assign it a dollar amount. That dollar amount is then multiplied by the number of days you suffered.
For instance, if your attorney estimates that your daily pain and suffering are worth $100 and lasted four weeks (28 days), you’d have $2800 in noneconomic damages.
Mitigating Factors and Limits
Illinois sets no hard cap on how much you can recover for pain and suffering, but there may still be limiting factors.
For instance, if you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injury, you might have your total damages reduced since comparative negligence applies. Comparative negligence reduces your damages by a certain percentage. For example, if it was found that you were 30% responsible for the accident, your damages would be 30% lower.
If you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you’d be barred from recovering any damages at all.
Defendant’s ability to pay
Another limiting factor is the defendant’s ability to pay. If their insurance only covers up to a certain amount, that will be all you can recover from them. As such, high value cases involving extreme pain and suffering are most successful when the defendant has the means to cover the costs.
Evidence of pain and suffering
The multiplier or estimates used in calculating pain and suffering are often dependent on your ability to prove the extent of your injuries. If you lack substantial evidence, you have a lower chance of winning a court trial, and therefore you may have to settle for less. Strong evidence is key.
Recovering Personal Injury Damages for Pain and Suffering
The bulk of personal injury damages typically comes from pain and suffering, especially for more severe cases. However, given their subjectivity, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side who can represent you through the process. Hart David Carson LLP can provide the legal guidance and representation you need to recover the amount you deserve for your injury.