How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated in Missouri?
Ryan Bradley | June 19, 2021 | Personal Injury
Pain and suffering damages can represent a substantial portion of an injury claim. These non-economic damages compensate an injured person for the non-financial impacts of their accident and injuries.
Non-economic damages are not tied to any quantifiable expenses or costs. So, you might wonder how much you can expect in your personal injury case. Here are a few factors a jury or insurance claims adjuster will consider when calculating pain and suffering damages.
Damages in an Injury Case
The damages in an injury case include economic damages and non-economic damages. You can claim both to compensate for everything lost due to your injuries.
Economic damages account for the money you paid or lost as a result of your accident and injuries. The main types of economic damages in an injury claim include present and future medical expenses, lost income, and diminished earning capacity.
Non-economic damages include all of the ways that your life was impacted by the accident not already accounted for in your economic damages. These damages will vary from case to case because they are unique to you.
Missouri caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases but does not impose a cap in other cases.
Some of the types of non-economic damages include:
You can claim non-economic compensation for physical pain. Your physical anguish can impact your life. You may need to take medication to control the pain; you may also need to change your routine and your activities to minimize your pain. Your sleeping habits may even be altered.
Non-economic damages compensate you for these negative impacts on your life.
You can also claim compensation for your mental anguish. Mental anguish can include mental or emotional problems arising from the accident or your injuries. Some common examples include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.
Bear in mind that non-economic damages do not compensate you for the cost of treating these problems. Rather, they compensate you for the impact that these problems have on your life.
You will learn to cope with your injuries. But the need to cope can be compensated through non-economic damages. For example, you might need to arrange for transportation until you heal enough to drive again. Similarly, you might need to use crutches or a wheelchair to get around. Non-economic damages take these inconveniences into account.
Loss of Activities
Your injuries might limit your activities. The lost opportunity to participate in hobbies, sports, and family activities can be accounted for within non-economic damages.
Diminished Quality of Life
Your quality of life could diminish due to your injuries. You may have to spend time at the doctor’s office and physical therapist instead of doing the things you enjoy. You may worry about your health, or you might lose sleep due to physical and mental pain.
Non-economic damages compensate you for all of the ways the injuries have diminished your enjoyment of life.
Differences Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Economic and non-economic damages can be difficult to understand. Economic damages compensate for financial losses, whereas non-economic damages make up for personal, non-financial losses.
For example, suppose that you suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident. After the accident, you also experience symptoms of PTSD and depression. The cost of treating the TBI and seeing a therapist for PTSD and depression are included in your economic damages.
Additionally, the anxiety of driving, sadness, inability to enjoy life, confusion from the TBI, insomnia or fatigue, and panic attacks could also justify non-economic damages.
Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages
Non-economic damages do not come with a bill or wage statement. You do not get a receipt every time you have a bout of depression or need to call a friend for a ride.
Pain and suffering damages look at your life as a whole after your injuries.
Factors Considered in Pain and Suffering Damages
A jury or claims adjuster can consider many factors in calculating pain and suffering damages. These include:
Severity of Your Injuries
More severe injuries will justify greater non-economic damages. For example, a broken bone might justify some non-economic damages. Eventually, though, you will recover from most of the pain and suffering from a broken bone. But if you lose a limb, you may never recover from the pain and suffering from the injury.
Duration of Your Injuries
Accidents that result in permanent or long-term injuries will usually have larger non-economic damage awards. If you were disfigured or permanently disabled in an accident, you will have to live with the effects for the remainder of your life.
Pain from Your Injuries
Painful injuries generally justify greater non-economic damages. Spinal cord injuries that produce severe nerve pain will usually have greater damages than sprains or contusions.
Mental Impact of Your Accident
Suffering requires some amount of mental anguish. A horrible accident that leaves mental scars will justify greater non-economic damages than a minor accident.
Methods for Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Although a jury or claims adjuster can use any rational method to award non-economic damages, financial experts usually rely on two models:
In the multiplier method, a factfinder assigns a multiplier between 1.5 and 5 to your non-economic losses. Factors like those listed above are used to pick a multiplier, with the larger number being associated with greater pain and suffering. The factfinder then applies the multiplier to your economic damages to calculate a total damages award.
Per Diem Method
In the per diem method, the factfinder assigns a daily cost to your non-economic damages and multiplies the daily cost by the duration of your injuries. More severe injuries justify a greater daily cost.
For example, a severe injury that causes pain and insomnia for 10 months could justify hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-economic damages.
Proving Non-Economic Damages
Proving economic damages will require you to assemble medical records to show the severity and duration of your injuries. These records will also show the level of pain and mental suffering you experienced. Additionally, you can use testimony from your doctors, therapists, friends, and family to show the ways that your accident and injuries changed your life.
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