Determining the Value of Your Pain and Suffering

After being involved in an auto accident, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with expenses like medical bills and vehicle repair costs.

Determining the value of these costs is relatively simple; just grab a calculator and add your bills, receipts, and repair estimates and add them all up. The resulting total is what you list in your personal injury claim.

But what about calculating pain and suffering damages? How do you determine the cost of your emotional anguish? After all, there isn’t a price tag attached to your pain and suffering.

How Oregon Defines Pain and Suffering

Your pain and suffering are typically divided into two categories: physical and emotional. Your physical pain obviously refers to the acute discomfort you feel in your body. The emotional aspect refers to the psychological trauma you’re experiencing in your mind.

In legal terms, pain and suffering are considered non-economic damages. There’s also an extensive list of damages that can be considered pain and suffering. Your non-economic damages may include all or some of the following:

  • Physical and/or chronic pain
  • Mental anguish and suffering
  • Alterations in mood or cognitive difficulties
  • PTSD and/or psychological trauma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced quality of life which can include loss of companionship

This is only an example of what can be considered pain and suffering damages in an Oregon personal injury case.

Potential Limitations on Non-Economic Damage Amounts

Currently, Oregon doesn’t have a cap on the potential amount you can claim or receive in pain and suffering damages. This doesn’t mean you can pick any number out of the air and hope for the best.

However, you don’t need to worry about going over a state-mandated cap as you’re determining how much your pain and suffering are worth.

Oregon does have a cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits. The current cap is $500,000. This means you can’t ask for more than the cap in your wrongful death lawsuit. Since you’re filing a personal injury claim, this cap doesn’t apply.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

As mentioned earlier, non-economic damages like pain and suffering are intangible. Since you can’t refer to any bills, receipts, or estimates, calculating these damages isn’t easy. You can’t choose a number at random. This would make the process a little easier, but you still need to provide some proof of your claim’s value.

So, how do you calculate the monetary value of your pain and suffering? You start by evaluating a few factors:

  • What is the severity of your injuries and how is it affecting your life? Some injuries are more severe than others. A broken arm will cause some pain and suffering but it’s probably not going to have a life-long impact. In comparison, paralysis or an amputation will have a long-lasting impact on your quality of life.
  • How are your injuries impacting your life? Are your injuries making it difficult or even impossible to care for yourself, earn a living, and enjoy the activities you love? In a nutshell, are your injuries preventing you from returning to the life you knew before the accident?
  • Your age and expected lifespan. Your non-economic damages may have a higher value if you have a longer lifespan. Basically, this factor looks at how long your injuries are expected to impact your life.
  • The strength of your supporting evidence which includes your credibility and potential testimony if your personal injury claim becomes a lawsuit in civil court.

After evaluating these factors, the next step is to start calculating the value of your pain and suffering. You can use either the multiplier or per diem method to come up with the value.

Neither method is better than the other, so you may want to try both to find out which one is best for your personal injury claim. However, you can only list one method in your claim.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is often used in personal injury cases when the victim is claiming lost income as part of their economic damages, and the reason for this is simple.

While you do come up with a fair evaluation, it’s typically a little lower than using the per diem method. Since insurance adjusters are always searching for ways to reduce the value of a personal injury claim, the multiplier method may help ensure you’re not stuck in negotiations.

You can also show the insurance adjuster the total value of your pain and suffering calculated with the per diem method. Sometimes, the difference in totals is enough to convince the insurance company to settle without heading to civil court.

Using the multiplier method, you find the total of all of your economic damages. Next, pick a number between 1.5 and 5; the higher the number, the more acute your pain and suffering. Multiply the total of your economic damages by the number you picked and this gives you the value of your pain and suffering.

For example, if your economic damages are $100,000 and your pain and suffering are extreme and a number 5, your non-economic damages are $500,000. This means the total value of your personal injury claim is $600,000.

The Per Diem Method

Using the per diem method is just as easy, and yes, you need to add your economic damages. Now, count how many days you experienced pain and suffering. Take the total of your economic damages and multiply this by the number of days—this gives you the total value of your pain and suffering.

Since your pain and suffering can last months, the total of your non-economic damages may be enough to have the insurance adjuster protesting every aspect of your personal injury claim. Your attorney can help you decide which method is the best solution for your personal injury case.

Contact an Attorney If You’re Ready to File a Personal Injury Claim

Calculating pain and suffering is rarely easy, regardless of which method you use. At the end of the day, you’re placing a dollar value on your emotional anguish, and this isn’t easy.

Your attorney can walk you through the process and handle negotiations with the insurance company. If your claim turns into a lawsuit, your attorney is ready to handle the legal proceedings.


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