Category: Understanding Personal Injury

Medical bill

How are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

When a person is injured in an accident, the person generally sustains damages. If another party caused the accident, the victim might be entitled to compensation for those damages. 

Examples of cases in which a person might recover compensation for damages include:

  • Car accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Nursing home abuse cases
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Premises liability cases
  • Product liability claims
  • Boating accidents
  • Bicycle accidents

Damages in a personal injury case generally include financial damages and non-economic damages. The person may be entitled to punitive damages, although it is not common in most cases. Punitive damages “punish” the person who caused the injury for gross negligence and wrongdoing. 

Calculating Financial Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Financial damages are the economic losses incurred by the accident victim. Examples of financial damages include:

  • Medical bills and cost of treatment
  • Personal care and in-home health care
  • Help with household chores
  • Loss of wages, salary, and benefits
  • Decreases in earning potential
  • Travel expenses
  • Legal costs

The value of financial damages is the actual cost of an item or financial loss. Unfortunately, calculating non-economic losses is more complicated.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case

Pain and suffering” is the term used to describe non-economic damages. Under personal injury laws, a victim can receive compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. 

Examples of pain and suffering damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress, including anxiety, PTSD, and depression
  • Mental anguish
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disabilities and impairments
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
  • Loss of consortium (loss of relationships with others, including spousal intimacy)

Valuing pain and suffering is challenging because a person’s experience after a car accident is unique and subjective. Each person experiences injuries differently. The same injury could cause one person great pain and distress, but another person may only suffer minor pain and inconvenience. 

Because there is not a “bill” or “invoice” for calculating pain and suffering, insurance companies consider several factors when valuing pain and suffering damages:

  • The type and severity of injuries the person sustained
  • The overall discomfort and pain associated with those types of injuries
  • The duration of the recovery
  • How the injury impacted the person’s daily life, including personal relationships, work, activities, etc.
  • The types of medical care required to treat the injuries
  • Whether the person sustained a permanent impairment or disability that requires ongoing care and treatment

Other factors may be considered when valuing pain and suffering damages based on the facts and circumstances of the case. Unfortunately, there is not a standard formula prescribed by law to calculate pain and suffering.

Multiplier Method vs. Per Diem Method

Many insurance companies use one of two methods for calculating pain and suffering damages.

Multiplier Method

The multiplier method uses the total cost of repairing the injuries (medical bills) as a basis for the value of pain and suffering damages. 

Depending on the above pain and suffering factors, the insurance company assigns a number for pain and suffering damages, usually between 1.5 and 5. Traumatic injuries, lengthy recoveries, and permanent impairments generally result in a higher multiplier. 

Pain and suffering damages equal your total medical expenses multiplied by the number. For example, if your total medical bills equal $50,000, and the multiplier is two, your pain and suffering damages would be worth $100,000.

An insurance company fights to keep the multiplier as low as possible. Your personal injury lawyer builds a strong case to argue for a higher multiplier based on the above pain and suffering factors.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method is used in some cases to calculate pain and suffering damages. The per diem method involves assigning a daily rate for pain and suffering. 

The value of your pain and suffering damages is the per diem multiplied by the total number of days between the date of injury and the date your doctor states you have reached maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement is the point at which no further medical treatment will improve your condition. 

The above pain and suffering factors are the basis for the per diem amount. Cases involving catastrophic injuries and disabilities usually have a higher per diem rate.

Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer

An insurance company has one goal – avoid paying large injury claims. Therefore, the claims adjuster is going to fight to keep the value of your pain and suffering damages as low as possible. Because pain and suffering are subjective, it can be easy for an insurance company to claim that a person is exaggerating.

Attorneys who handle personal injury cases understand how insurance companies calculate pain and suffering. They understand which factors can increase the multiplier or the per diem rate. They also know how to use medical evidence in a case to maximize the figures.

If you believe the settlement offer is low, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer before accepting the offer. Once you settle your injury claim, you cannot pursue legal action for more money, even if you discover your damages are worth much more than the insurance company paid to settle the claim.

Understanding The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process In Atlanta, GA

People injured by another person or party may be entitled to compensation for losses and damages. Filing an injury claim is the first step in receiving compensation. Most personal injury claims actually settle without filing a lawsuit.

If a party refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, it may be necessary to work with a personal injury lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit. Understanding the personal injury lawsuit process in Atlanta, GA can be helpful, especially if you are nervous or worried about how lawsuits work.

The personal injury lawsuit process in Atlanta, GA varies slightly, depending on the type of case and the facts of the case. However, there are common steps that are the same in all lawsuits.

1. Locate a Personal Injury Attorney

It is usually a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. An attorney investigates the accident to gather and preserve evidence proving fault and liability. These are two essential legal requirements to receive compensation for an injury claim.

Choose an attorney who handles personal injury claims. You want someone with experience handling cases like your case. You also want someone who understands the local court system and who is familiar with the judges and court staff.

You may need to interview several attorneys to find an attorney who meets your needs. Look for an attorney who communicates effectively, including answering your questions and listening to you. Make sure that you understand the fee agreement before retaining the law firm.

2. Accident Investigations 

After you hire a law firm, the lawyer begins an accident investigation. An accident investigation may involve several steps. Some steps your attorney may take while investigating your injury claim include, but are not limited to:

  • Interviewing eyewitnesses
  • Obtaining copies of police reports and accident reports
  • Searching for videos of the accident, such as traffic cameras, eyewitness videos, etc.
  • Requesting and reviewing your medical records
  • Visiting the accident scene and gathering physical evidence
  • Working with your medical providers to obtain detailed diagnosis and prognosis
  • Retain professionals such as accident reconstructionists, medical experts, and investigators, if necessary
  • Researching and analyzing application statutes and case law

3. Preparing and Filing a Lawsuit

After conducting a thorough investigation, your lawyer prepares the required court documents to begin the personal injury lawsuit. Attorneys attempt to settle claims without filing lawsuits whenever possible to save time and money.

A lawsuit begins by filing a complaint. Generally, complaints are filed in the county in which the person being sued resides. The complaint details the nature of the legal dispute. It contains details of the accident and the legal basis for holding the party responsible for the accident responsible for your damages.

The complaint is served on all defendants (the parties being sued) with a summons. The summons directs the parties to file a response or answer within a specified period. 

If a party fails to respond to the lawsuit, your attorney files a motion with the court asking for a default judgment. The court sets a hearing date. In most cases, the court grants a judgment if you present facts proving that the defendant is responsible for your injuries and damages.

If the party responds to the complaint, the lawsuit proceeds to the discovery phase.

4. Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is used to gain additional evidence and information you can use to prove your case. Each party has the opportunity to use several discovery tools to gather evidence.

Common discovery tools used by parties to a lawsuit include:

  • Depositions — Interviews conducted under oath.
  • Request to Produce — Written questions asking for documents and information related to the case.
  • Interrogatories — Written questions that a party must answer under oath.
  • Request for Admissions — Written statements that a party must admit or deny.

The exchange of evidence is a way to gain additional information to build a case against the other party. Your attorney may continue to consult with various experts during the discovery phase. The discovery phase can take several months or a year to complete, depending on the complexity of the case. 

5. Pre-Trial Motions

Attorneys may file one or more pre-trial motions to resolve issues before trial. An attorney may file a motion to dismiss if he believes that you do not have sufficient evidence to prove your case. Your attorney may file a motion for summary judgment asking for an immediate ruling based on the evidence already presented.

Both attorneys may file motions to keep certain evidence out of the trial or prevent witnesses from providing particular testimony. The motions filed depend on the circumstances of the case.

6. Negotiations

The parties continue to negotiate during the preparation for trial. After the other party reviews the evidence your attorney has gathered, the party may be more willing to settle the matter before trial. 

A settlement of the personal injury lawsuit may be reached at any point before the jury decides the case.

7. Trial

The case proceeds to trial if the parties do not reach a settlement. During a trial, both parties present witnesses and evidence that supports the parties’ allegations. 

After the presentation of all evidence, the judge instructs the jurors regarding the applicable law and provides instructions for deliberations. The jury considers the evidence presented during the trial and returns a verdict.

Either party can file an appeal if the party disagrees with the outcome of the case. An appeal can take months to years to complete.

New York, NY

Finding a Good Personal Injury Lawyer in NYC – A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve been injured in an accident in New York City, going to court can feel like a tremendous burden has been dropped into your lap. There is paperwork to file, strict rules to follow, and a great deal of uncertainty about whether or not you will be fully compensated.

For that reason, it’s important to have a qualified attorney on your side that will work hard to get you the money you deserve. But, as you may have noticed, there are thousands of law firms and personal injury lawyers to choose from in New York City. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help the process seem less overwhelming.


Do an Online Search

Perhaps the easiest place to start looking for an attorney is by doing an online search. Now, this can turn up hundreds of results. However, you can begin to narrow your research by selecting only a few relevant law firms or solo attorneys that have personal injury law listed as one of their specialties.

Spending some time on a lawyer’s website can give you an indication as to whether or not you might be a good match for each other. Firms often have blogs you can read and testimonials from clients that may be helpful. If you find an attorney that you like, write down his or her contact information and compile a list of those that you wish to follow up with. 

Ask for Referrals

When it comes to finding quality professional services, word of mouth is an extremely useful method. According to Michele Mirman, a personal injury lawyer in New York City, “If you have friends, family, or a colleague that has hired a personal injury attorney in the past, they might be able to recommend someone.” Additionally, they may be able to alert you about a potential issue they had with a particular attorney in the past.  

However, keep in mind that not all attorneys have experience in personal injury law. This means that if a referral is based on prior dealings with an attorney in another practice area, the advice might not be helpful. An example would be if your friend recommended the lawyer that helped him close on the purchase of a house. 

That said, attorneys often have strong professional networks and can connect you with a lawyer that would be qualified to handle your case. For that reason, it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Conduct a Background Check

Now, attorneys often get a bad rap in the media. While much of this may be undeserved, it is always a good idea to do some sort of background check to make sure that the person you may be working with is honest and trustworthy.

In fact, the New York State Unified Court System makes this process easy through its website. You can use the search function to see whether an attorney is licensed in New York and whether he or she has a disciplinary record. When looking at this information, pay particularly close attention to any ethical violations against clients.   

Create a List of Questions

Before reaching out to a potential attorney, it can be helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask. The goal in your initial meeting is to ascertain whether the attorney is qualified to handle your case and determine whether you will work well together.

Questions you might consider asking the attorney include:

  • What experience do you have in personal injury? 
  • Do you have a track record of success? 
  • What is your current caseload like? 
  • Do you have support staff or paralegals? 
  • How do you prefer to communicate – email, phone, etc.? 
  • How will you get paid, and what expenses are the client responsible for? 

The answers to these questions – and any others that you might have – can be really helpful in guiding your decision.

Schedule Meetings with Attorneys

Note that many attorneys offer a free initial meeting, often referred to as a consultation. However, this is not always the case, so you should consider asking before scheduling the meeting.

In most cases, meetings may be done over the phone or at the attorney’s office. Be prepared to explain your case and to ask any questions you have. 

Contact a Legal Referral Service

If you are unsuccessful in finding a lawyer through recommendations or your own research, you might consider using the Bar Association’s attorney referral program. The service is free and the staff will help connect you with a qualified attorney.

Note that consultations with the lawyer may be up to 30 minutes, and the attorney is allowed to charge you a maximum of $35. 

Make Your Decision

Now, after conducting your research and meeting with one or more attorneys, the final step would be to decide whether or not you would like to work with any of them. This process can take time and, unfortunately, it’s not always possible to know which lawyer would produce the best outcome for your case. 

At the end of the day, this is your decision and the lawyer you hire should be someone that you feel comfortable with and is courteous to you.