Determining Pain and Suffering Damages in Personal Injury Claims
Lawyers have to consider numerous factors when they calculate pain and suffering damages, including the extent and severity of injuries or illnesses, supplemental coverage, and the limits of the negligent party’s insurance policy.
Keep reading to learn more about calculating damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury case. And if you or someone you know has been injured or become ill due to another person’s negligence, please contact Atkins & Markoff to get a free, no-risk assessment of your case.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
In most personal injury cases, there are three types of damages: economic, noneconomic, and punitive. Economic damages are those that cause direct financial harm, such as lost wages or medical bills. Noneconomic damages are more difficult to quantify and usually involve the mental, emotional, and physical distresses and hardships that arise from an accident.
Under Oklahoma law, the following damages are considered noneconomic:
• Pain and suffering
• Loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education
• Mental anguish
• Any other tangible loss
The third category of damages is punitive damages, which are financial penalties assessed to the people or parties responsible for an injury or illness. For instance, juries sometimes order manufacturers to pay punitive damages to punish them for negligent behavior and warn other companies against behaving the same way.
How Attorneys Determine Pain and Suffering Damages
Under Oklahoma law, once the plaintiff has successfully established that their injuries or illness happened because of someone’s negligence, then the plaintiff must prove their financial losses and demonstrate what they need to stabilize their finances and rebuild their life. Whereas economic damages are relatively straightforward to determine, noneconomic damages (including those for pain and suffering) can be more challenging to put an exact number on.
Determining pain and suffering damages requires the plaintiff to prove they deserve compensation for hardships they’ve had to endure that wouldn’t have happened if not for the negligent party’s actions. For instance, if someone suffers a severe, disabling injury, cataloging the victim’s medical bills won’t capture the anguish they experience knowing they’ll never be able to physically play with their children again. Pain and suffering damages attempt to address these types of losses (as much as is possible) by providing victims additional financial compensation.
Since there is no perfect standard for determining pain and suffering, you need a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney who has experience presenting and proving the need for these noneconomic damages. Many insurance companies often try to convince the plaintiff they should accept very little compensation for their pain and suffering.
Two Common Methods for Determining Pain and Suffering
In most personal injury cases, pain and suffering damages are calculated according to one of two common methods.
1. The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is a mathematical formula for determining pain and suffering:
(Past, present, and future medical bills) x (Multiplier) + (Total economic damages) = The reasonable value of your claim
The primary variable in this formula is the “multiplier,” which is typically between 1.5 and 5 depending on the severity of the illness or injury sustained. When using this method, the insurance company will often suggest different multipliers, which means it will be up to the judge and jury to determine the final number used.
2. The Per Diem Method
The per diem method tries to account for the daily amount of pain and suffering the victim will endure before they recover as much as possible. Then, the method attempts to translate that pain into an amount of money.
For instance, if the per diem figure is set at $100 per day and doctors determine that it will take the plaintiff two years from the date of the incident to recover as much as they can, the pain and suffering reward will be set at $73,000 (365 days x 2 = 730 days x $100/day).
Personal Injury Financial Caps in Oklahoma
There are different financial caps to consider under Oklahoma personal injury law. The cap for noneconomic damages in general is $350,000 while the cap for certain medical malpractice claims is $300,000. However, there are no caps if your attorney can prove the defendant was guilty of any of the following conditions:
1. Acting in reckless disregard of the rights of others
2. Acting in gross negligence
3. Acting fraudulently
4. Acting intentionally or with malice
Atkins & Markoff Is Here to Help With Your Personal Injury Claim in Oklahoma
Suffering severe injuries or a devastating illness because of someone’s negligence is difficult enough without having to stress over medical bills and lost wages. At Atkins & Markoff, we want you to focus on getting well and taking care of your family as you recover. If you choose us to represent you, we’ll deal with the insurance companies and fight to protect your rights so you can spend your time on the things that matter most.
To schedule your free consultation with an attorney from the Atkins & Markoff team and get advice about your case and your options, please call (405) 607-8757 or complete this brief online form. But remember, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is only two years in Oklahoma, so please reach out today.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.