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Victims of traffic collisions and other personal injury accidents have two types of damages: monetary damages and non-monetary damages. Monetary damages include medical bills, future medical costs, lost wages, lost earning ability due to disability, and other damages that have a specific monetary cost that can be calculated for the future, or determined by past bills. Non-monetary damages are damages that have no specific monetary value, such as someone’s lost joy of life caused by the physical and emotional injuries they sustained. Examples of non-monetary damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium (in a wrongful death claim), loss of joy of life, permanent scarring and disfigurement, and emotional distress. Non-monetary damages are often “worth” much more than monetary damages.
According to the CDC, between 11 and 40 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain. Many of these Americans are victims of traffic collisions. The term ‘pain and suffering’ is often used as a catch all phrase for any physical and emotional damages caused to plaintiffs. The ‘pain’ aspect of pain and suffering includes physical pain, such as aches, headaches, permanent or short term disabilities, and other physical pain. The ‘suffering’ aspect of pain and suffering includes emotional distress, such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, and other emotional or psychological damages. As such, pain and suffering is a mix of physical pain and emotional or psychological injuries.
The most prevalent, and the most simple, method for calculating pain and suffering is to simply apply a number between 1 and 5 to the victim’s injuries. The more severe the injuries, the higher the number. This number is then multiplied by the victim’s total medical bills. For example, a badly broken leg and whiplash might cost a victim $100,000 in medical bills. Because this injury is moderately severe, a multiplier of 3 may be applied. $100,0000 x 3 = $300,0000 in pain and suffering damages. A more serious injury might be spinal damage resulting in quadriplegia. Medical bills for such an injury may be $500,000. Because the injury is extreme, a multiplier of 5 would be used. $500,000 x 5 = $2.5 million in pain and suffering damages.
A less common method used by some insurance companies to calculate pain and suffering is the per diem method. A dollar amount is fixed to the injury based on the degree of pain and suffering. This “per day” dollar amount is awarded until the victim reaches their maximum degree of healing (many traffic victims never fully heal from their injuries). If the per diem compensation for pain and suffering is $100 per day, and the victim takes 100 days to reach maximum healing, they would be compensated with $10,000 in pain and suffering damages (100 x 100 = 10,000).
It is important that pain and suffering, and other non-monetary damages, are calculated accurately by your attorney. Non-monetary damages can be difficult to prove, and insurance adjusters are often eager to reduce the value of these non-monetary damages. Call a San Jose personal injury attorney at Solution Now Law Firm to schedule a free consultation today.
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