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  • How Do Personal Injury Attorneys Calculate Pain and Suffering?

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    When it comes to personal injury actions, South Dakota allows for the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. The former refers to monetary losses like medical bills and missed wages while the latter encompasses intangible losses like pain and suffering.

    If you file a personal injury claim, your legal team will use receipts, records, and invoices to determine the extent of your economic damages. When it comes to calculating your pain and suffering, however, there’s no documentation to prove the precise value of these damages.

    Thankfully, there are two widely accepted formulas for quantifying non-economic damages. Read on to learn how your legal team might apply each:

    1. The Per Diem Method

    “Per diem” is Latin for “per day.” This method assigns a daily rate to the claimant’s pain and suffering. The rate should be relatively reasonable, like $200 or a typical day’s wages; however, it should also correspond to the extent of the injuries. Those who sustain catastrophic injuries that cause permanent disabilities, for example, can justify using a much higher rate than those who expect to make a full recovery in a matter of weeks.

    Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), your personal injury attorney can help you determine a reasonable rate and then multiply it by the number of days you spent recovering. If you can justify using $150 as the per diem rate, for example, and it took you five months to reach MMI, you would multiply $150 by 150 days to get $22,500.

    2. The Multiplier Method

    Before you can apply the multiplier method, you must determine your special damages, which encompass all your economic losses. Once you know this figure, multiply it by a factor of between 1.5 and 5.

    Like the daily rate used in the per diem approach, this factor must be both reasonable and justifiable. In other words, more serious injuries warrant a higher multiplier.

    If you incurred $40,000 in special damages, for example, but doctors don’t anticipate any long-term complications stemming from your injuries, you might use a factor of 1.5. By multiplying $40,000 by 1.5, you would arrive at a figure of $60,000 for your pain and suffering.

    It’s important to remember that just because you use one of these formulas to quantify your non-economic losses doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to recover the figure that results. Both methods merely provide a starting point for the negotiations.

    You can, however, increase your chances of securing a satisfactory payout for your pain and suffering by keeping a personal injury journal. Entries detailing the ways in which your condition is hurting your quality of life will help demonstrate that you did, in fact, incur the nonmonetary losses that you’re seeking.

    Call 605-721-2800 to Discuss Your Case with a Rapid City Personal Injury Lawyer

    If you intend to file a personal injury claim in South Dakota, turn to Beardsley, Jensen & Lee, PLLC for help. Our resourceful team has recovered more than $15 million in settlements and trial verdicts on behalf of our valued clients. Call 605-721-2800 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Rapid City.


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