Hawk Law Group | April 5, 2022 | Personal Injury
When you win a settlement or damage award for your injuries, you may generally receive compensation for two types of losses.
Economic losses include all of the ways your injuries affect your finances. Non-economic losses encompass how your injuries affect your quality of life. Pain and suffering damages fall under non-economic damages.
Here is some background on how pain and suffering damages are calculated.
Another name for non-economic damages is “general damages” because the law presumes these damages happen in all personal injury cases.
The insurance industry wants you to believe otherwise. It wants you to think these damages happen only in rare cases when someone experiences extraordinary pain and suffering. On the contrary, these damages are so standard that:
- You do not need to prove any special pain and suffering
- You do not need to show the value of your pain or suffering
- The jury can calculate and award any fair amount
You can contrast this with economic damages. The law also refers to economic damages as “special damages.” These are unique to your case, and you must prove both the existence and value of your economic losses to receive special damages.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Before a jury begins deliberations, the judge instructs the jury. When explaining non-economic damages, the judge will tell the jury that the measure of damages “is the enlightened conscience of fair and impartial jurors.”
Georgia does not prescribe any particular formula or calculation to set a non-economic damages value. Instead, the judge instructs the jury to consider several factors and award a “reasonable, fair, and just” amount of damages. The factors include:
- Interference with normal living
- Reduction in the enjoyment of life
- Loss of capacity to labor and earn money
- Impairment of bodily health and vigor
- Fear of the extent of the injury
- Shock of impact
- Past and future physical pain
- Past and future mental anguish
- The extent to which you must limit your activities
This list provides you with a roadmap for getting the best possible non-economic damage award. Some types of evidence that could help you show non-economic harm include:
- Your testimony about your life after your accident
- Testimony from friends, family members, and co-workers
- Medical records describing the severity and duration of your injuries
- Mental health therapy and counseling notes
Although Georgia law does not require jurors to use any particular formula for calculating non-economic damages, an expert witness might provide some suggestions to the jury. The two most popular models for determining a fair pain and suffering award are the following:
Per Diem Method
In the per diem method, the jury assigns a daily value to your non-economic damages. More pain and suffering means a higher daily value. If you were paralyzed, you might have a daily value of $500. If you broke a bone, a jury might give you a daily value of $100.
The jury multiplies the daily value by the duration of your injuries. Suppose you suffered permanent paralysis in an accident at 55 years of age. In that case, a jury could multiply your remaining life expectancy of 20 more years by $500 per day for a total of $3.65 million.
In the multiplier method, the jury assigns a factor between 1.5 and 5.0 based on the severity of your injury. A permanent disability justifies a higher factor, while a minor, temporary injury justifies a smaller factor.
The jury multiplies your factor by your economic damages. Suppose that you had $35,000 in medical bills and lost income. Based on your evidence, the jury assigns a factor of 2.5 to your pain and suffering. The result, $87,500, represents your total damage award.
Fighting for Pain and Suffering Damages
Do not let an insurer talk you out of your pain and suffering damages. With the right evidence, you and your lawyer can get fair compensation for the effect of your injuries on your quality of life.
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We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.