Getting compensation for an accident means getting paid for all of the economic and non-economic harms you faced. Medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other economic damages all have receipts and bills you can base your claim on, but how do you come up with a value for pain and suffering?
Generally, pain and suffering (lumped together with the other “non-economic” damages in your case) are calculated by basing them off of some factor describing how bad your pain and suffering is. This can be done with a “multiplier method,” where a number is chosen to represent how bad your pain and suffering is, then multiplied by the other damages. Alternatively, a per diem value can be selected and then multiplied by the number of days you faced pain and suffering.
For help knowing what your damages are worth, call our Alabama personal injury lawyers at Howe Law for a free case review at (844) 876-4357.
What Constitutes Pain and Suffering Damages in Alabama?
“Pain and suffering” is the term used to describe the damages you get for an injury to cover the injury itself. Other damages – like medical bills – pay for the economic effects of the injury rather than the injury itself. These “specific” damages are usually lumped under the category of “economic damages” because they have a value attached to them already.
Other damages are lumped under the title “non-economic” damages because there is no economic value attached. They are also sometimes called “general” damages because they generally flow from an injury.
All in all, pain and suffering damages account for your experiences and intangible harms, such as the actual pain you faced, the mental and emotional suffering of an injury, the fear during the accident, the pain of suffering a disability or loss of limb, the emotional effects of visible scarring, and even the embarrassment of a public injury. Often, terms like “emotional distress” or “mental anguish” are applied, but no matter what you call these damages, they cover the same sorts of things.
Methods of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages in Alabama
Courts, insurance companies, and Birmingham personal injury lawyers use various techniques to come up with a value for these pain and suffering damages. While medical expenses and other economic damages have bills and receipts saying how much they cost, there is nothing stating what a broken arm or 10 months of post-traumatic stress symptoms “costs” you. Instead, we generally rely on two methods to estimate the value of these damages:
To use the multiplier method, we assign a value to your pain and suffering based, generally, on how severe the injury was. This value usually ranges from 1.5 to 5, with 1.5 representing a mild to moderate injury and 5 representing a very severe, life-altering injury. Our attorneys can help you understand what multiplier would be appropriate in your case by taking into account the consequences of the injury, your mental and emotional state, and other factors you can explain to us (and to a jury).
From there, you multiply your economic damages by that multiplier. Basing your non-economic damages off of the economic damages in your case is somewhat arbitrary, but it does usually follow that more expensive economic damages equate to higher pain and suffering.
This method is also good to use when your case involves disabilities or ongoing injuries that will lead to pain and suffering now and in the future. As you will see, the other method works better when there is a set time for pain and suffering, whereas this multiplier method is a bit better for open-ended, indefinite pain and suffering.
Per Diem Method
The per diem method assigns a per-day value to your pain and suffering, then multiplies that value by the number of days you experienced (or will experience) pain and suffering. Selecting this value is somewhat arbitrary, and it usually begins by basing it on your per-day wages.
This method has a few flaws. First, it presumes that your wages have anything to do with how much your injury hurts or causes you to suffer, and there really is no relationship there. Second, it implies that poor people don’t suffer as much as rich people, which also makes little to no sense. However, we can adjust the per diem value upward, and using income is only a starting point.
This per diem method is good to use when your injury has healed and the pain and suffering is over or you can estimate when the definitive end to your pain and suffering will be. This way, you have a final number of days to multiply the per diem value by to arrive at your pain and suffering damages.
Evidence Used to Calculate Pain and Suffering in Alabama
In order to get an accurate idea of how much pain and suffering you faced, we need to look at factors that show the severity of your injury and the outcomes of the accident. Most of this evidence will come from you directly: your statements about your injury, any journals or diaries you kept about your recovery process, and your answers to questions about how the injury affected your life and happiness. Your family, your friends, and your doctors/therapists can also testify about how they saw the accident and injury affect you.
Courts will also need to see this evidence as proof of how severe your pain and suffering is or was. Our lawyers can help you take the evidence and testimony you have and present it to the court in a way that will help them gauge the severity of your pain and suffering so they can approve our damage calculations.
Call Our Alabama Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
If you were injured in an accident, call our Huntsville personal injury attorneys at Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 for a free case evaluation.