Kenny Habetz Injury Law | May 27, 2023 | Personal Injury
Naturally, it is difficult to place a dollar value on something so intangible as pain. Nevertheless, people do it every day, both in and out of court.
Non-economic damages include losses that are difficult to quantify, such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Trauma arising from bodily disfigurement.
Other forms of non-economic damages are possible as well.
The Medical Malpractice Damages Cap
Louisiana has set a $500,000 limit on total damages in medical malpractice cases. This limit includes both economic damages and non-economic damages (including pain and suffering) but does not include future medical expenses.
How To Prove Pain and Suffering
Claimants commonly rely on the following types of evidence to prove pain and suffering:
- The conclusions of a medical expert;
- Medical records;
- Photographic and video evidence;
- Notes taken by your healthcare provider; and
- Your own daily “pain journal.”
The nature of your injury will go a long way to proving your pain and suffering claim.
Typical Calculation Methods
How do you calculate a dollar value for something as subjective as pain and suffering? There is more than one way to do it. Below are descriptions of two of the most popular ways.
The Per Diem Method
“Per diem” is a fancy Latin way of saying ”per day.” Under this method, you first calculate your pain and suffering damages by assigning each day of your suffering a specific dollar value. Then, you multiply that amount by the number of days that you endured the suffering.
If you value your suffering at $400/day, for example, and you endured it for 180 days, your total would be $72,000. You would add this to your other non-economic and economic damages to arrive at your total compensation.
The Multiplier Method
Under the multiplier method, you first choose a “multiplier,” typically a number between 1 and 5. The factors that parties might take into account when negotiating your multiplier might include:
- The intensity of your pain and other suffering;
- How obvious it is that the defendant was at fault;
- The extent of your disability;
- The strength of your evidence for pain and suffering; and
- Whether your injuries are temporary or permanent.
If you suffered intense pain, for example, you might set your multiplier at 4. You then multiply 4 by your total economic damages. If your economic damages were $40,000, for example, your pain and suffering damages would be $160,000.
If you are filing a personal injury claim against an individual, keep this much in mind: most individuals cannot afford to pay out much in personal injury damages. That means you will probably need to rely on an insurance company to pay your damages. No matter how much you suffered, however, no insurance company has an obligation to pay you any more than their policy limits.
Split Limits for Automobile Accidents
Car accidents are probably the most common generator of personal injury claims. So how much insurance can you rely on for an auto accident claim? Louisiana’s legal minimum auto liability insurance minimums are as follows:
- $15,000 in bodily injury compensation per victim;
- $30,000 total bodily injury compensation per accident (no matter how many victims); and
- $25,000 in property damage compensation per accident.
This means that if the at-fault driver purchased only minimum liability insurance, you will receive no more than $15,000 in compensation. This $15,000 must cover all of your damages, both economic and non-economic. Remember that pain and suffering damages are only a part of non-economic damages.
You’re in better shape if the at-fault party was a commercial trucker or an on-duty Uber/Lyft driver because these drivers carry much more insurance.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Maximize the Value of Your Pain and Suffering Claim
Pain and suffering damages are common in personal injury lawsuits. A lot of the ultimate “value” of your claim, however, might come down to your own persuasiveness – or the persuasiveness of your lawyer. Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to obtain a ballpark estimate of the value of your claim.