How Do I Get Cash for My Pain and Suffering?

A common question we get asked by our injury clients is, “How do I get cash for my pain and suffering?” Of course, we know there’s no way to assign an accurate dollar value to something as intangible as your physical or emotional pain. However, if you expect an insurance company or defendant to compensate you for it, you’ll have to assign some sort of monetary value to your pain and suffering- and what’s more, you’ll have to be able to defend your rationale for doing so.

What is “pain and suffering?”

In legal terminology, “pain and suffering” is a blanket term that refers to any/all physical and emotional maladies that don’t fall into measured categories like property damage medical expenses, lost wages, etc. It encompasses not just physical discomfort, but also emotional and mental anguish, as expressed by worry, fear, grief, inconvenience, lack of sleep and other issues that lessen one’s quality of life. When you have been injured or harmed by another, pain and suffering is considered part of the damage, and you can often receive compensation for it when proving the injuring party is at fault. The challenge is in assigning a value to it that the insurance companies and the courts will accept.

Types of pain and suffering

Pain and suffering generally fall into one of two categories: Current pain and suffering and current and future pain and suffering. If your injury is an acute event from which you’re expected to recover fully, your claim will most likely be for current pain and suffering since there is an expected end date, at which life will resume as normal. If your injuries are likely to have an impact on your ongoing quality of life for the foreseeable future, this may classify as current and future pain and suffering, for which you may be able to calculate a higher demand.

Methods for calculating pain and suffering

So how can you assign a dollar value to pain and suffering to add to your claim? Attorneys and insurance companies tend to use one of two methods to calculate a value, both of which hold sway in court or settlement negotiations:
  • The multiplier method: the attorney calculates the actual damages (i.e., property damage, medical bills, lost wages) and assigns a multiplier between 1 and 5, depending on the severity of the injuries. For example, if your medical bills are $50,000 for a severe injury, your attorney may multiply that amount by a multiplier of 4 to assign a value of $200,000 to your pain and suffering.
  • The per diem method : the attorney assigns a daily dollar value to pain and suffering for each day from the moment of injury to the moment of complete recovery. If it takes you two full years to recover from an injury and your attorney assigns a per diem of $120, you would claim $87,600 in pain and suffering damages. (This method obviously works best in the current pain and suffering.)
Regardless of how you determine the value of pain and suffering, you’ll need a skilled attorney to prove your claim in negotiations or in court. At Sutton Slover, we practice personal injury law exclusively, and we know how to argue your case for your best chance of a fair and favorable settlement. For more information, call our office at 404.768.0292.