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Home > What is a Fair Settlement for Pain and Suffering?

What is a Fair Settlement for Pain and Suffering?


In addition to being compensated for property damage, medical bills, and lost wages, the victim of an auto accident, workplace injury, or other personal injury cases may also recover money for pain and suffering.

The question of what a fair settlement for pain and suffering might be can have a wide range of answers, so let’s take it step-by-step.

What Is Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering consist of both the physical and emotional pain that a victim encounters in the aftermath of an injury or accident caused by another party’s negligence.

Pain and suffering damages are referred to as non-economic damages because they don’t have a specific cost associated with them. Examples include:

  • Decreased quality of life
  • Stress, depression, anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium (companionship)
  • Loss of eyesight or hearing
  • Diminished enjoyment of life

Assigning a dollar figure to what someone’s pain and suffering is “worth” can be subjective. The reason is that the costs aren’t easily figured out by calculating expenses from medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs. Instead, alternative calculations are used to come up with a number that is fair to the aggrieved party.

How Lawyers Determine the Cost of Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages are typically awarded when a victim endures damages such as the ones listed above.

Because medical bills and other receipts don’t represent the cost of these damages, there are a couple of other calculations that can be substituted in their place.

Method 1 – The Multiplier Method

This straightforward method takes the total amount of the settlement for economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and multiplies it by a number to calculate pain and suffering. As you can imagine, the number chosen for this formula has a dramatic effect on the total settlement. The higher the multiplier, the higher the settlement amount.

Traditionally, the multiplier falls in a range between one and five. A higher number generally means that the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries were severe, whereas a lower number might represent injuries and suffering that is less extreme.

For example, in a medical malpractice case, you might have sustained economic damages of $10,000.

With a multiplier of 3, you could expect a pain and suffering settlement of $30,000 ($10,000 economic damages x 3 multiplier).

Method 2 – The Per Diem Method

This formula is less common but still used. The basis of the formula is assigning a daily amount for the pain and suffering that will last for either the length of the suffering or for the life of the plaintiff.

The per diem amount is often calculated based on the plaintiff’s average daily income, but there are other placeholders that professionals may use if a salary is not applicable or relevant.

A per diem calculation might look something like this: the plaintiff was injured in a car accident and unable to work for 180 days. If their net income were $150 per day, then the total pain and suffering compensation would be $27,000 ($150 per day x 180 days).

How to Prove Pain and Suffering

Gathering evidence to build a case for pain and suffering is not as straightforward as showing receipts for medical bills or turning in pay stubs. A skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help ensure that all relevant proof is submitted to get maximum compensation for your injuries. This takes both experience and ingenuity.  

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers at 800-PERKINS for help. Your consultation is complimentary, and you don’t pay until you get paid.

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