Pain and suffering damages are difficult to calculate because pain is relative and hidden. You can't see pain or gauge how much pain someone is feeling. Auto accident victims can also exaggerate their claims since they also know the difficulties of determining pain and damages. That is why the government has come up with several methods of determining pain and suffering damages for injury victims. One of these is the multiplier method.
In the multiplier method, you multiply your actual damages with the total sum of your actual damages. This means you need two things to get your pain and suffering using this method – the actual damages and the multiplier.
The actual damages are the out-of-pocket monetary losses you have suffered as a result of the accident. Actual damages include things like medical expenses (both short-term and long-term), loss of income, loss of earning capacity, repair to damaged property, and replacement of damaged property, among others.
A multiplier is a number that ranges from 1.5 to 5, with 1.5 representing the least pain and suffering and 5 representing the most pain and suffering. You don't choose the multiplier arbitrarily; multiple factors determine the right multiplier to use. Here are some of those factors:
- Recovery period. The longer your medical treatment lasts, the more pain you will be in. thus, a long recovery period translates into a higher multiplier.
- Clear proof of pain and suffering. You need adequate proof of pain, especially if your injuries are not obvious. Medical bills and expert witness testimony are some of the proof you may use to get a high multiplier.
- The seriousness of the injury. State laws agree that serious injuries translate into more pain and hence higher multipliers. For example, a broken back is more serious than a broken finger; hence, a broken back will attract a higher multiplier than a broken finger.
- The obviousness of the defendant's pain. A more obvious pain attracts a higher multiplier than hidden pain. Say you are claiming serious pain but no one (including your doctors) can diagnose the pain; your case might attract a lower multiplier than someone with a fractured limb because their pain is more obvious than yours.
Note that the defendant will go out of their way to reduce your multiplier to try and reduce the payout. A personal injury attorney can help you prove your actual damages so that you can get the multiplier you need.