The term “pain and suffering” refers to a wide range of non-economic damages you might face in an accident. Generally interchangeable with “non-economic damages” on the whole, pain and suffering damages pay for things like mental anguish, emotional distress, and other intangible harms caused by a car accident. If you are filing a personal injury claim in New York, it is important to know what these damages might be worth to you.
To calculate pain and suffering, courts and juries will assess the overall effect that the injury had on your life. This includes looking at things like the pain and mental suffering specifically, but also things like how the injuries affected your enjoyment of life, the effect on your daily abilities, and other measurable harms. Ultimately, courts calculate these damages by either assigning a multiplier to apply to your other economic damages or assigning a per diem rate for your pain and suffering.
For help with an injury lawsuit, call the Westchester personal injury lawyers at The Martello Law Firm today at (914) 685-6950. We offer free case evaluations.
What Counts as Pain and Suffering in New York?
To be able to calculate the total damages for pain and suffering, you need to know what qualifies as “pain and suffering.” This is a general list of what is usually considered under the umbrella of “pain and suffering,” but it is important to remember that each case is different, and you should always have one of our New York personal injury lawyers review your case with you.
First, it is important to note that the term “pain and suffering” is often used interchangeably with “non-economic damages.” There are in fact other non-economic damages that could fall outside of the umbrella of “pain and suffering,” such as lost spousal services. However, these two terms are usually treated somewhat interchangeably when talking about the values and types of harms that full under each title.
Often, you can claim pain and suffering damages for any of the following harms:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Loss of reputation
- Trouble with day-to-day tasks
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Lost enjoyment in activities you performed before the injury
- Lost status
- Fear of further injury
Generally speaking, the more categories of harms you faced and the worse those harms are, the higher the damages are for pain and suffering. But our New Rochelle personal injury lawyers can help you calculate damages more precisely.
Calculation Methods for Pain and Suffering Damages in New York
When actually calculating damages and petitioning the court for a specific monetary value, your Mount Vernon personal injury lawyers will typically use one of two methods: the multiplier method or the per diem method.
When using the multiplier method, your lawyer, the court, an insurance company, or whoever else is calculating damages will assign a multiplier based on the severity of your pain and suffering. Generally, this multiplier ranges from 1.5 to 5, so cases with minimal pain and suffering might use only a 1.5, and cases with severe pain and suffering could peak around 5. Multipliers can, however, go beyond these numbers.
This number is then multiplied by your other economic damages – the damages for things like medical bills and lost wages. The result will either be the total damages you receive or the damages specifically for non-economic damages – different lawyers and judges seem to have different understandings of how this multiplier works.
For example, if you are injured and paid $500 in medical expenses and faced no lost wages, you would have $500 total for non-economic damages. If your injuries were not that bad and were only discomforting while you were recovering with no lasting effects, you could get a multiplier of 1.5. Applying that multiplier results in $750, which some might claim should be the total damages you claim ($500 for economic damages, $250 for non-economic damages) while others would say that should be the value of non-economic damages on top of the $500 for economic damages (for a total of $1,250).
For higher damages, a high multiplier has a much greater effect. For example, $100,000 in economic damages with a multiplier of 4 for permanent damages that affect your daily life could result in $400,000 in damages.
Per Diem Method
Instead of basing your pain and suffering off of your total non-economic damages, you can instead use the per diem method to assign a daily value to your pain and suffering. This number is then multiplied by the number of days you experience pain and suffering to get a total value of non-economic damages.
Generally, the starting place for calculating a per diem rate for pain and suffering is your daily wages. It is presumed that the burden of your pain and suffering is at least as intense as the burden of working every day, so an average daily wage is used as a starting place. This value is adjusted up or down based on how severe your pain and suffering is.
For example, if you make $54,750 per year, that’s around $150 per day (in 365 days). For an injury that was not too bad, this might be reduced to something like $75 for your per diem rate, but for a very severe injury it could be doubled to $300 per day.
Calculating the number of days your injury affects you can be difficult with long-term injuries. If the injury heals up and the pain goes away after a certain number of days, this calculation is easier to use. However, just because someone has low income does not make their suffering any less, making this system somewhat flawed for many victims.
Selecting Which Calculation Method to Use
No matter which method you use, there are drawbacks and issues. Both methods are somewhat arbitrary, as picking either a multiplier or a per diem rate is not precisely scientific. If you have a set number of days and you already recovered from your injury, the per diem method might be easier to use, but if your injury is long-term and you don’t know how long it will last, the multiplier method might be simpler. Using the per diem method might be bad for you if you have low income, or it might be hard to justify using if you have very high income.
Your Yonkers personal injury lawyer can help you determine which method to use. It is also important to remember that this is merely a starting point – other factors might adjust this final value up or down, and the jury sets the final value if your case goes to trial.
Call Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers Today
For a free case evaluation, contact The Martello Law Firm to speak with our Whiteplains personal injury lawyers. Our number is (914) 685-6950.