How do I calculate pain and suffering in a Personal Injury case?

Overall, being able to calculate pain and suffering in your Personal Injury case is going to take two man components to factor in the final sum. There is what is known as “damages”. These are defined from a legal term for loses that the at-fault party must compensate you for. The following categories represent the damages represented, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall case:

  • Economic Damages: also known as “special” damages
  • Non-economic Damages: also known as “general” damages

In this article we will unpack what it looks like to factor in your circumstances and how this will affect your ability to navigate the calculation of your pain and suffering in your Personal Injury case.

How do I know what qualifies as the right definition of “damages”?

In a personal injury case, the compensation awarded to a winning plaintiff after a trial is based on these types of damages. To put it simply, “Special Damages” are all of the easily calculable losses stemming from your accident or injury. Such as:

  • medical bills
  • lost income due to missed work
  • property damages
  • any other out-of-pocket losses

To understand “General Damages”, you would need to categorize them as your pain and suffering. Basically, these are defined as anything that causes you discomfort and physical pain. This is also not limited to include:

  • emotional distress
  • all anxiety and stress that is linked to the specific accident and your injuries.

Clearly you have pain and suffering, along with the reality that a settlement could be reached out of court and based on similar factors. But how can one possibly place a dollar amount on their pain?

Exactly how will I be able to quantify my pain and suffering?

Realistically it is going to be difficult to place a dollar amount on your general damages, unlike your clear ability to define how much income you are losing from inability to work, or say maybe your property was damaged. And yet, there are several ways to approach this topic from the standpoint that insurance companies utilize when calculating pain and suffering as part of their injury settlement for clients. The two most common methods are:

  • Multiplier Method: most commonly you would take the sum of all your special damages and then multiply that by the number between 1.5 on the low end, and 4 or 5 on the high end. The second number is called a “multiplier” and will depend upon the seriousness of your injuries, prospects for a quick and complete recovery, the impact of your injuries on your daily routine, and if the other party was clearly at fault. This multiplier method is primarily utilized most frequently by insurance companies due to the fact that it is believed to be the most accurate.
  • Per Diem (Daily Rate) Method: this method includes the idea that you demand a certain dollar amount for every day you live with the pain caused by your accident.

What are the challenges between both methods?

For the Multiplier Method, the challenge in settlement negotiations is going to be the multiplier used. You are going to argue for a higher multiplier while the defendant (or really, let’s be honest, their insurer), will want to use a lower multiplier. As for the Per Diem Method, this one falls apart with permanent or long-term injuries. However, with those cases you will want a lawyer. In which case, your settlement would based off of related verdicts and settlements in your specific jurisdiction. This information would only be accessible through your lawyer who is subscribing to expensive services.

Is it possible to utilize both methods for the same Personal Injury case?

It is actually an excellent practice to utilize both methods when you're beginning the process of assessing your Personal Injury case. You would then need to adjust your demand of compensation from within that new range. You will need to prepare for wild and crazy different number, so don't be surprised by that. At the end of the day it will come down to a negotiation dance, and having a professional and experienced lawyer will aid in a solid and quick recovery of damages. Each and every case is different, so remember that your main objective is to begin at a reasonable number which you can justify within your demand letter.


When you are addressing General Damages, the kind that require you to receive medical attention, it will be most important to report to the medical professionals each and every detail in a thorough and clear manner. All discomfort and pain you are experiencing counts, and more often than not, will be used by an insurance adjuster to reflect the true nature of your case when the doctor writes it down and it rests in your medical records. However, an adjuster might actually dispute the very same report if it comes only from you as part of your Personal Injury claim. In either case, your attorney will be able to help you make the best possible case given the evidence you have.