How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in New York City?

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How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in New York City?

How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in New York? Insurance companies calculate pain and suffering on the lowest scale possible. Personal injury lawyers maximize the damages to increase the value of the personal injury claim. Unfortunately, New York does not have a standard formula for determining how much pain and suffering damages are worth.

Unlike medical bills and lost wages, there is no invoice or statement we can use to “total” the amount of pain and suffering a person experiences. Therefore, we analyze the factors of a personal injury case to determine the value of pain and suffering damages in New York.

Defining Pain and Suffering Damages for a Personal Injury Claim

Defining Pain and Suffering Damages for a Personal Injury Claim 

Damages refer to the remedy an injured victim demands to make them “whole” again after an injury. Because the courts cannot undo the harm suffered by the injured party, they use money verdicts to compensate the person for their financial, physical, and emotional damages. Personal injury victims can recover compensation for their economic and non-economic damages.

Financial losses are referred to as economic damages. These damages include out-of-pocket expenses, medication bills, lost wages, property damage, and medical bills. Non-economic damages cover the “pain and suffering” experienced by the injured party.

What Types of Pain and Suffering Damages Can I Recover for a Personal Injury Case in New York?

Non-economic damages include emotional and physical harm. Physical pain and suffering include the discomfort caused by injuries. Examples of physical pain and suffering include:

Physical pain and suffering can also include scarring and disfigurement. Disabling conditions and permanent injuries are also included in physical pain and suffering.

Emotional distress refers to the mental anguish and psychological impact of being injured in an accident. Examples of emotional harm include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Cognitive damages
  • Fear
  • Embarrassment

Emotional distress can be debilitating too. It can prevent a person from going about daily life, working, or caring for their family.

What Types of Personal Injury Cases Result in Pain and Suffering Damages?

Any accident or other incident that results in injury to another person can result in pain and suffering damages. The type of injury and other factors determine the level of pain and suffering a person experiences.

Examples of personal injury cases where pain and suffering damages might be paid include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Premises liability claims
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Product liability claims
  • Workplace accidents
  • Slip, trip, and fall accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Animal attacks and dog bites
  • Medical malpractice
  • Assault and other violence

Even though we know that a person experiences pain and suffering because of a personal injury, calculating the value of those damages is challenging. An experienced New York accident lawyer can evaluate your settlement offers to help determine whether the insurance company is offering an amount of compensation that is fair, given the facts of your case.

Methods for Placing a Dollar Amount on Pain and Suffering Damages

Even though we do not have a standard formula to calculate pain and suffering damages, most insurance companies, lawyers, and courts use one of two methods for calculating non-economic damages.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method is one of the most common pain and suffering calculators used for personal injury claims. The calculation is simple. The total of economic damages is multiplied by a number between 1.5 and five.

However, assigning a number for the multiplier can be challenging. Typically, the more severe the injuries, the higher the multiplier used.

For example, whiplash that heals entirely in a few weeks would cause much less pain and suffering than a traumatic brain injury that results in chronic headaches and seizures. The whiplash case might be assigned a multiplier of two, while the traumatic brain injury case might receive a multiplier of four.

Analyzing several factors helps determine the multiplier for the case. Factors to consider include:

  • How the injury impacts the person’s daily life
  • The person’s appearance after and before the injury
  • The level of inconvenience the injury caused
  • The type of injury
  • Whether the injury resulted in a permanent impairment or disabling condition
  • The impact of the injury on the person’s career
  • How the injury affects the person’s relationships with others
  • The need for ongoing medical treatment and psychological care

Each case is different. Therefore, the choice of a multiplier is subjective. It is based on how an insurance adjuster, personal injury lawyer, juror, or judge presumes the injury might cause pain and suffering.

Per Diem Method

The per diem method assigns a dollar amount per day for pain and suffering damages. For example, a jury might assign a per diem of $200 per day for pain and suffering damages. They base the amount on their conclusions after considering factors like those listed for the multiplier method.

The per diem is paid for each day from the injury date to when the doctor releases the person from care. Per Diem rates are not used as often as the multiplier method. They are also not commonly used in cases involving permanent impairments or disabilities.

How Do I Prove My Claim for Pain and Suffering Damages?

Pain and suffering do not have a “one size fit all” definition. Each person suffers differently. Therefore, proving pain and suffering damages can be difficult.

You need to make the insurance adjuster or jury members “feel” your pain and suffering. Evidence that can demonstrate the level of your suffering and pain includes, but is not limited to:

  • Medical records
  • Opinions and statements from specialists and medical experts
  • Videos and photographs of your injuries
  • Personal documentation from a notebook or journal you created detailing your recovery
  • Professional notes and records from therapists, physicians, and counselors
  • Statements and testimony from family members, friends, and co-workers

When creating a pain and suffering journal, include details about how your injury impacts your life. Try to be as vivid as possible. Your notes help you recall the severity of your suffering when you give testimony in depositions, hearings, or at trial.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers

Pain and suffering damages can be a significant portion of your personal injury settlement. Our lawyers work to maximize compensation for all damages to put as much money in your pocket as possible. Contact or call our law office to schedule your free consultation with an experienced New York personal injury attorney from the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at (212) 265-5658.