How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering?

Calculate Pain and Suffering

Following a major accident, injured victims need access to financial support. Under California law, you may be able to hold a negligent party liable for your medical bills, your lost wages, and any other economic damages.

In addition, you can also seek compensation for intangible losses — such as your pain and suffering.

You may be wondering: how do you calculate pain and suffering? After all, pain and suffering is a fundamentally non-economic concept. It is inherently difficult to put a specific dollar figure on these types of intangible damages.

In this post, our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney explains California’s procedures for calculating pain and suffering damages. We also highlight what you need to do to protect your rights.

The Methods Used to Determine Pain and Suffering in California

Primary: Multiplier Method

The most common way put a dollar figure on pain and suffering damages is by using the multiplier method. In essence, the multiplier method takes the full value of an injured victim’s actual economic losses — meaning their health care expenses, lost income, etc. — and multiplies that amount by a selected factor to get to pain and suffering damages.

Typically, the multiplier is between ‘1’ and ‘5’. As an example, if you sustained $15,000 in economic damages in a car accident, and the court selected a multiplier of ‘3’ for your case, your pain and suffering damages would equal $45,000.

Pain and suffering compensation would be issued in addition to your compensation for your direct monetary losses. Higher multipliers are selected when the pain and suffering is deemed to be especially severe.  

Secondary: Per Diem Method

The other, less common method that California courts use to determine pain and suffering is through a method called the per diem method. Through this procedure, each day of pain and suffering is given a value. From there, the total damages are calculated by determining how long the victim was forced to deal with ‘pain’ and/or ‘suffering’ as a result of their injuries.

For instance, if a dollar figure of $150 for pain and suffering was assigned for each day and the court determined that the victim was forced to endure 100 days of pain and suffering, then $15,000 in total damages would be awarded.

Pain and Suffering Must Be Assessed on a Case-By-Case Basis

Perhaps the most important thing that you should know about calculating pain and suffering damages is that it is far more of an art than it is a science. With a pain and suffering settlement, there are many different variables involved. Each calculation must be made on a case-by-case basis.

This principle is well-explained in the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions. In reference to pain and suffering, these instructions explain to juries in our state that there is no one fixed standard to decide the “amount of pain and suffering” and that juries must use their “judgement to decide a reasonable amount”. Pain and suffering awards are supposed to be based on common sense and the evidence presented in each case.

Unfortunately, large companies and insurers know how to work the pain and suffering calculation process to their own advantage. These parties fully understand that pain and suffering damages are inherently difficult to value.

Using the unavoidable ambiguity that is present in this part of the personal injury claims process, defendants frequently try to undervalue pain and suffering compensation — offering injured victims far less than they rightfully deserve.

At Starpoint Law, our aggressive Los Angeles personal injury attorneys can help. We have extensive experience representing victims who have endured considerable pain and suffering in their accidents. Our law firm knows how to help clients get full and fair compensation for their non economic damages.

Get Help From Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Today

At Starpoint Law, our California personal injury attorneys have the skills and tenacity needed to help our clients recover full financial compensation for their pain and suffering damages.

To learn more about what we can do for you, please contact our legal team for a free consultation. From our law office in Los Angeles, we represent accident victims throughout Southern California.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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