How Are “Pain and Suffering” Damages Calculated in New York City?
When you are injured, much of your focus in an injury claim might be on getting the financial matters taken care of. Medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic damages can be important to claim, but pain and suffering damages are also so vital. However, calculating these damages is a bit different than calculating economic damages.
Pain and suffering damages are calculated based on the specific factors that the victim faced in this specific case. That means that the level of pain and suffering in one case might be drastically different than the pain and suffering in another case. Usually, these factors are applied to either a multiplier on the economic damages or to arrive at a per diem for pain and suffering.
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Calculating Pain and Suffering in New York City
As mentioned, pain and suffering damages are separate from the economic damages you claim in an injury case. Those economic damages (also known as “special damages”) include the things you can set a price on, such as the medical bills you paid for your injuries or the lost wages you will suffer. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering are harder to place a price tag on, but there are two general methods used to assign a value:
This is the most common method for calculating pain and suffering damages. This method chooses a multiplier based on the severity of the pain and suffering that the victim experienced. The multiplier usually ranges from 1.5 to 5, with a higher multiplier being used for higher levels of pain and suffering.
Examples of the Multiplier Method
This multiplier is applied to the economic damages in the case to calculate the final value of pain and suffering damages. For instance, if your case is given a multiplier of 2 and you are awarded $50,000 in economic damages, then you would receive $100,000 in pain and suffering damages. This means a grand total of $150,000 in damages. For more expensive injury cases, such as cases totaling around $500,000 in economic damages, a high multiplier like 4 could result in $2 million in pain and suffering damages alone.
Pros and Cons
It is important to remember that the multiplier method is a bit arbitrary. There are no set guidelines as to what results in a multiplier of 3.5 versus a multiplier of 4, for example.
This multiplier is also more frequently used by insurance companies or in settlement negotiations. A jury award might be adjusted up or down from the pain and suffering damages you initially claim. Our Staten Island personal injury lawyers can help you understand what multiplier might make sense in your case, at least as a starting point for what amount we should claim in pain and suffering damages.
Per Diem Method
A per diem is an amount of money paid per day for some purpose – in this case, for the pain and suffering you face from your injuries. Using a per diem rate for pain and suffering seems to more closely put a value on the pain and suffering rather than assigning some arbitrary number from 1.5 to 5.
Examples of the Per Diem Method
When trying to set a per diem rate, lawyers will often start by looking at the wages you would normally receive per day. The presumption here is that dealing with the injuries and anguish you face is essentially a full-time job, so they start with how much money you make per day at your actual job.
The average medium income in New York City is around $32,320, which is around $88.50 per day (with 365 days in a year – not just workdays). If your pain and suffering lasts for 50 days, then you would just multiply that per diem by 50 for a total of around $4,427 in pain and suffering damages.
Pros and Cons
Again, this value is somewhat arbitrary. This method can result in wildly different results compared to the multiplier method, but it may be more realistic and actually tied to what happened in some cases.
A per diem of around $88.50 might be a good starting point for someone with that level of income, but many injuries are even more work than the victim’s normal job would be. The per diem value is often adjusted to reflect that.
The value would also be higher for people who have higher levels of income, but there may be a point where having high income alone does not factually mean that you suffered more from your injury. Our Bronx personal injury lawyers will always advocate for the maximum damages applicable in your case, which might mean opting for a different calculation method.
This kind of valuation is also difficult with long-term injuries or permanent injuries where there may be no end in sight. That makes it difficult to define how many days this per diem will be awarded for. At some point, it becomes easier to just use a multiplier rather than trying to account specifically for daily suffering.
Factors that Affect Pain and Suffering Damages in New York City
Whether you use the multiplier method or the per diem method in calculating damages, the multiplier or the per diem rate still needs to be set at some value. Insurance companies and lawyers set this value by analyzing your condition and the level of interference with your daily life – as well as the actual severity of your injuries.
For example, a broken bone that heals up in around 6 weeks might be difficult to deal with, but the suffering is limited. Compare this to a brain injury that permanently alters the victim’s life and requires ongoing home nursing care. Similarly, an injury that prevents you from playing tennis might have a smaller overall impact on your life than an injury that prevents you from being able to hold your child or attend family gatherings.
Non-physical issues are also taken into account. For example, severe PTSD symptoms that make it hard to get in a car again might have a greater effect on your life than a physical symptom like mild discomfort when standing for long periods. A New York City personal injury attorney can help you define the pain and suffering in your particular case and help you calculate damages.
Call Our New York City Personal Injury Lawyers Today
For a free case evaluation, call The Carrion Law Firm’s Brooklyn personal injury attorneys today at (718) 841-0083.